Future bioenergy expansion could alter carbon sequestration potential and exacerbate water stress in the United States

Journal Article
Science Advances, vol. 8, iss. 18, 2022
Yanyan Cheng, Maoyi Huang, David M. Lawrence, Katherine Calvin, Danica L. Lombardozzi, Eva Sinha, Ming Pan, Xiaogang He
The maximum future projected bioenergy expansion potential, in scenarios limiting warming to 2°C or below, is equivalent to half of present-day croplands. We quantify the impacts of large-scale bioenergy expansion against re/afforestation, which remain elusive, using an integrated human-natural system modeling framework with explicit representation of perennial bioenergy crops. The end-of-century net carbon sequestration due to bioenergy deployment coupled with carbon capture and storage largely depends on fossil fuel displacement types, ranging from 11.4 to 31.2 PgC over the conterminous United States. These net carbon sequestration benefits are inclusive of a 10 PgC carbon release due to land use conversions and a 2.4 PgC loss of additional carbon sink capacity associated with bioenergy-driven deforestation. Moreover, nearly one-fourth of U.S. land areas will suffer severe water stress by 2100 due to either reduced availability or deteriorated quality. These broader impacts of bioenergy expansion should be weighed against the costs and benefits of re/afforestation-based strategies.