A spatially explicit model to identify suitable sites to establish dedicated woody energy crops

Sandhya Nepal, Marco A. Contreras, John M. Lhotka, George A. Stainback

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Biomass has gained considerable attention in the southern United States (US) mainly because of its potential to partially replace fossil fuels and develop a sustainable bioenergy industry. Dedicated energy crops could offer a reliable and sustainable biomass supply, but there is limited research identifying suitable sites and evaluating their economic feasibility. This study developed a model to identify potential sites to establish dedicated energy crops based on the economic feasibility of short rotation woody crops. Site suitability was based on site-specific woody biomass yield, production costs, and delivered biomass prices. Transportation costs including off-road and on-road transportation costs were based on travel time from each potential plantation site to the nearest conversion facility. Break-even biomass amounts were obtained by considering production costs and biomass price, and potential biomass yield was estimated based on site index. Break-even biomass amounts were then compared with potential biomass yields to determine suitable sites to establish dedicated energy crops. To illustrate the applicability of the model, it was applied to a four-county test area in northern Kentucky with a diverse land cover and ownership, relatively extensive transportation network, and presence of existing conversion facilities, conditions which are common in the Ohio River Valley region and much of the southern US.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-255
Number of pages11
JournalBiomass and Bioenergy
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Elsevier Ltd.


  • Biomass harvesting
  • Break-even analysis
  • Geographic information systems
  • Spatial analysis
  • Transportation cost

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Waste Management and Disposal


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