Three essays on modeling biofuel feedstock supply

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Zhou, Wei
Major Professor
Bruce A. Babcock
Committee Member
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The Department of Economic Science was founded in 1898 to teach economic theory as a truth of industrial life, and was very much concerned with applying economics to business and industry, particularly agriculture. Between 1910 and 1967 it showed the growing influence of other social studies, such as sociology, history, and political science. Today it encompasses the majors of Agricultural Business (preparing for agricultural finance and management), Business Economics, and Economics (for advanced studies in business or economics or for careers in financing, management, insurance, etc).

The Department of Economic Science was founded in 1898 under the Division of Industrial Science (later College of Liberal Arts and Sciences); it became co-directed by the Division of Agriculture in 1919. In 1910 it became the Department of Economics and Political Science. In 1913 it became the Department of Applied Economics and Social Science; in 1924 it became the Department of Economics, History, and Sociology; in 1931 it became the Department of Economics and Sociology. In 1967 it became the Department of Economics, and in 2007 it became co-directed by the Colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Business.

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  • Department of Economic Science (1898–1910)
  • Department of Economics and Political Science (1910-1913)
  • Department of Applied Economics and Social Science (1913–1924)
  • Department of Economics, History and Sociology (1924–1931)
  • Department of Economics and Sociology (1931–1967)

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The general theme of this dissertation is modeling biofuel feedstock supply. All three essays focuses on different topics relating to the theme. The first essay considers supply of corn stover for a commercial production of a cellulosic ethanol plant. The economic trade-offs in determining the plant size under uncertain future corn stover yields and cellulosic ethanol prices are analyzed. We also estimate the impacts on optimal plant sizes under two payment schemes for corn stover procurement: plant pays for transportation cost and farmers pay for the transportation cost. My second essay analyzes the impact of ethanol mandates on corn prices. A rational expectations competitive storage model is built to capture the dynamic behavior of corn market and tradable permit market through which mandate is enforced. We use the model to estimate the impacts of alternative future ethanol mandate levels. Results indicate that future corn prices are about 6 percent lower with reduced mandates. The third paper presents a new model of agricultural supply which combines Positive Mathematical Programming (PMP) with the rational expectations storage model and compares methods in solving the combined model. We find that Smolyak collocation method performs better than Generalized Stochastic Simulation Algorithm considering computational time and accuracy in solving the multi-crop storage model.

Thu Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2015