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Integrating biogeophysical and social assets into biomass-to-biofuel supply chain siting decisions

Martinkus, Natalie, Shi, Wenping, Lovrich, Nicholas, Pierce, John, Smith, Paul, Wolcott, Michael
Biomass and bioenergy 2014 v.66 pp. 410-418
assets, biofuels, biomass, biorefining, collective action, decision making, feedstocks, geographic information systems, infrastructure, lignocellulose, petroleum, prediction, society, supply chain, Montana, Pacific States
Second-generation biorefineries that utilize lignocellulosic feedstocks for producing biofuels are emerging with the aim of contributing to society's need for a sustainable liquid fuel source. Decision tools are needed to aid in siting facilities based not only on biogeophysical (BGP) assets such as feedstock and infrastructure requirements but also on the social assets of communities supporting these facilities. The research presented here provides a framework for a quantitative approach for biorefinery siting and decision-making. A Social Asset Factor (SAF) score is created to assess a community's capacity for collective action and adaptation to change. This research validates the social asset measures used for facility siting at the county level through retrospective prediction analysis.A biofuel supply chain within the Pacific Northwest region of the U.S. is examined as a test case. Interpretation of GIS analysis indicated that eleven counties in the supply chain region possess woody biomass resources and are located in proximity to key infrastructure. Eight of the eleven counties have population centers greater than 1000 and also lie on major road and rail. From these eight counties, a top two-thirds survival analysis on the SAF score resulted in five counties that possess high BGP characteristics and varying levels of social asset characteristics. Of the five counties, only Flathead, MT and Missoula, MT have high SAF scores and are located closer to petroleum refineries than the other three counties. Thus, based on this analysis, Flathead, MT and Missoula, MT exhibit the highest potential for siting a biorefinery.