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Uncertainty in biomass supply estimates: Lessons from a Yakama Nation case study


The increasing demand for bioenergy in the United States necessitates detailed case studies of cost and supply to assess its feasibility. We have developed supply curves based on six feedstocks in five counties surrounding the Yakama Nation in central Washington using spatially explicit estimates of supply and transportation cost. The supply curves were used to examine a base case supply for a bioenergy plant, to analyze the effects of land ownership, and examine the impacts of uncertainty in parameters used to determine cost and supply. The results show that existing industries produce the cheapest supply of feedstock as a byproduct of their operations, while supplies harvested specifically for bioenergy are considerably more expensive. Fragmented land ownerships lead to the necessity of cooperation between owners and highlight the importance of a strong anchor supply close to the plant. Lastly, uncertainty in supply and cost parameters leads to larger ranges in available biomass, leading to reluctant investment in large plants. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.