An outlook for sustainable forest bioenergy production in the Lake States

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Michigan Tech Research Institute


The Lake States region of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan offers significant potential for bioenergy production. We examine the sustainability of regional forest biomass use in the context of existing thermal heating, electricity, and biofuels production, projected resource needs over the next decade including existing forest product market demand, and impacts on price and feasibility. Assuming $36 per dry tonne at roadside, 4.1 million dry tonnes of forest biomass could be available region-wide. However, less is likely available due to localized environmental and forest cover type constraints, and landowner willingness to harvest timber. Total projected demand of 5.7 million dry tonnes, based on current and announced industry capacity, exceeds estimates of biomass availability, which suggests that anticipated growth in the forest-based bioeconomy may be constrained. Attaining projected demand will likely require a combination of higher cost feedstocks, integration of energy and non-energy uses, and careful management to meet environmental constraints. State distinctions in biomass harvest guidelines and the propensity for third-party forest certification will be critical in providing environmental safeguards. The cumulative effect of policy initiatives on biomass competition are discussed in the context of an emerging Lake States bioeconomy.

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Energy Policy