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Wood bioenergy for rural energy resilience: Suitable site selection and potential economic impacts in Appalachian Kentucky

Kenton Sena, Thomas O. Ochuodho, Domena A. Agyeman, Marco Contreras, Chad Niman, Dan Eaton and Jian Yang

Forest Policy and Economics, 2022, vol. 145, issue C

Abstract: Improving energy resilience, especially for rural communities, is a political, economic, and ecological priority, involving shifting energy portfolios away from fossil fuel dominance, reducing the environmental footprint of energy production and transmission, and localizing production and supply systems. In the Appalachian region, bioenergy systems, especially those involving woody biomass, may be key to improving energy resilience. However, because of its low population density and rugged topography, the region presents challenges to implementing biomass-based energy systems. This study was designed to identify critical infrastructure sites in Appalachian Kentucky with sufficient regional woody biomass supply to support reliable electricity generation. First, spatial analysis prioritized optimal biomass transportation distance, identifying 19 critical infrastructure sites in a region with feedstock supply suitable for a 100kWh unit, 4 of which were suitable for a 2MWh production unit. Second, economic analysis suggests that implementation of a woody biomass-based energy system in this region could have overall positive economic impacts. Future studies should elucidate in greater detail the local and regional economic impacts at each candidate site identified in this analysis, considering additional costs such as start-up and maintenance, and theoretical policy and incentive frameworks such as carbon emissions targets and subsidies.

Keywords: Forestry; Forest products; Residuals; Timber; Woody biomass (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1016/j.forpol.2022.102847

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