A brand new study (Jan.2013) from The University of Montana (College of Forestry and Conservation) modeled economic feasibility of biomass delivery across fuel and product prices. Feasible volumes ranged from near zero to full utilization across prices analyzed. Both paved and unpaved haul distance were greatly affected by prices. Feasible volume is more sensitive to delivered biomass price than diesel price.
The analysis presented in the paper is based on utilizing forest treatment residues that are accessible in piles at roadside or at a landing at no charge for the material.
This provides a no-cost residue disposal option for landowners. If landowners are willing to pay a fee to remove the residues, that has the same financial effect as an equivalent increase in the delivered biomass price – an upward effect on financial feasibility of delivering treatment residues to a bioenergy facility.
Conversely, if landowners require a payment for residue removal, that has the same financial effect as an equivalent decrease in the delivered biomass price – a downward effect on financial feasibility of delivering treatment residues to a bioenergy facility.
Forest treatment residues are getting more attention as an energy source. The study showed that:
- Financial feasibility of delivering forest treatment residue biomass is greatly affected by the level of these prices, from essentially no biomass to all potential biomass being financially feasible to deliver to a bioenergy facility.
- Although both prices are important, results show that financial feasibility is much more sensitive to percentage changes in the delivered price of biomass (positive effect on feasible volume) than the price of diesel fuel (negative effect on feasible volume).
- One of the most cost-effective situations for utilizing forest biomass occurs when mechanical forest treatments, which are undertaken for a variety of reasons, produce piled treatment residues accessible at roadside or at landings, the case analyzed in this paper.
- The effect of varying delivered biomass prices and diesel fuel prices on the financially feasible volumes of biomass for delivery to bioenergy facilities is of interest to potential investors in bioenergy facilities, forest managers, and policy makers.