Cost, energy use and GHG emissions for forest biomass harvesting operations

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For forest-based biomass to become a significant contribution to the United States' energy portfolio, harvesting operations must be physically feasible and economically viable. An assessment of cost, energy and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of forest biomass harvesting was conducted. The assessment differentiates harvesting systems by cut-to-length and whole tree; harvest types of 30%, 70%, and 100% cut; and forest types of hardwoods, softwoods, mixed hardwood/softwood, and softwood plantations. Harvesting cost models were developed for economic assessment and life cycle energy and emission assessment was applied to calculate energy and emissions for different harvesting scenarios, considering material and energy inputs (machinery, diesel, etc.) and outputs (GHG emissions) for each harvesting process (felling, forwarding/skidding, etc.). The developed harvesting cost models and the life cycle energy and emission assessment method were applied in Michigan, U.S. using information collected from different sources. A sensitivity analysis was performed for selected input variables for the harvesting operations in order to explore their relative importance. The results indicated that productivity had the largest impact on harvesting cost followed by machinery purchase price, yearly scheduled hours, and expected utilization. Productivity and fuel use, as well as fuel factors, are the most influential environmental impacts of harvesting operations.

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© 2016 Elsevier Ltd. Publisher's version of record: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.energy.2016.07.086

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