Wood Bioenergy for Rural Energy Resilience

Grants and Contracts Details


Kentucky’s forest industry generates a tremendous amount of waste products, including green sawdust, wood chips, and bark, which have few stable market options and can present significant economic burden (e.g., disposal fees). However, these residuals could potentially be utilized as bioenergy feedstocks, contributing to reduced overhead costs for industry (e.g., sawmills) and/or decentralized small-scale electricity production (e.g., rural municipality energy production). Feasibility of bioenergy production is tightly constrained by transportation costs, processing costs, and markets (both alternative markets for wood residuals and energy markets); therefore, intentional spatial and economic analyses are necessary for characterizing the spatial and economic parameters for which bioenergy production from wood residuals may be economically feasible. The proposed project will identify priority rural municipalities for establishment of small-scale wood-residual-fired power plants, based on proximity to forest industry facilities generating residuals, as well as critical infrastructure requiring reliable long-term electricity supply (e.g., hospitals, emergency management). Once these priority sites are identified, further projects could endeavor to establish pilot energy production facilities on-site, providing critical on-the-ground data to test and improve model assumptions, with the goals of diversifying energy sources and supply and improving energy resilience. The proposed project will first identify priority rural municipalities ideal for establishment of a wood-biomass fired combined heat and power (CHP) system, and then model potential economic impacts, should such a system be established at these sites. These tools will address critical data gaps impeding adoption of infrastructure connecting forest industry residuals with energy production and economic opportunity, and they will inform development of public/private investing in energy infrastructure in rural Appalachia. Objective 1: Identify priority rural municipalities for establishment of wood-biomass fired combined heat and power (CHP) units. Task 1.1: Build spatial analysis tool in GIS synthesizing the following types of data: o Proximity of critical infrastructure which would realize maximum benefit from energy resilience: hospitals, emergency management, wastewater and drinking water treatment o Proximity to primary wood industry facilities - Prioritize industry facilities by volume and type of residuals produced - Prioritize industry facilities by proximity to residuals markets o Number of households in low income classes o Availability of standing low-quality woody biomass feedstock o Invasive species presence (where available) Objective 2: Characterize economic impacts of establishment of wood-biomass fired combined heat and power (CHP) unit in priority rural municipalities Task 2.1: Build an economic analysis tool modeling economic impacts under various potential scenarios: o Cost of residuals transportation o Prices of coal and natural gas resources o Highlight job creation and land value improvement (through timber stand improvement)
Effective start/end date2/1/196/30/19


  • KY Energy and Environment Cabinet: $49,910.00


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