Title page for ETD etd-11052012-144412

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Brown, Kayla Lynn
Author's Email Address kbrow63@tigers.lsu.edu
URN etd-11052012-144412
Title The Economic Feasibility of Utilizing Energy Cane in the Cellulosic Production of Ethanol
Degree Master of Science (M.S.)
Department Agricultural Economics & Agribusiness
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Salassi, Michael Committee Chair
Kazmierczak, Richard Committee Member
Westra, John Committee Member
  • energy cane
  • cellulosic ethanol
  • biofuels
  • optimal crop cycle length
Date of Defense 2012-10-25
Availability unrestricted
With an overall lack of economic information available on energy cane production, the aim of this research has been to provide some insight on the economic feasibility of producing energy cane in Louisiana as a feedstock for cellulosic ethanol production. When dealing with a non-traditional crop such as energy cane, increased uncertainty surrounding potential costs and returns can make the crop seem much less appealing to potential producers. As a high-fiber hybrid of traditionally produced sugarcane, energy cane production costs have been estimated using a standard enterprise budgeting approach developed for sugarcane, along with actual yield and fiber data from energy cane field trials. Monte Carlo simulation was performed in order to estimate energy cane costs and yields under stochastic input prices and yield levels. Breakeven yields for third through sixth stubble were calculated in order to determine the potential optimal crop cycle length that would maximize an energy cane producerís net returns. Delivered feedstock costs to an ethanol producer were estimated along with potential processing costs in order to assess the total cost of producing cellulosic ethanol from energy cane.

Overall, the average variable cost of energy cane production was about $14 per wet ton and the average total cost of producing energy cane was approximately $23 per wet ton. Energy cane yield estimates ranged from 36 to 68 tons per acre and results suggest that the optimal crop cycle length for energy cane is production through sixth stubble, or 8 years. Compared to similar economic studies for other energy crops, the findings of this study indicate that energy cane is capable of producing higher biomass yields at a lower cost. Furthermore, the results suggest that cellulosic ethanol producers utilizing energy cane as a feedstock can attain a minimum ethanol selling price between $2.00 and $2.30 if processing costs remain below $0.90 per gallon and the energy cane supply is sourced from farms within a 40 mile radius of the processing facility.

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