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A cost analysis of bioenergy-generated ash disposal options in Canada

Hope, Emily S., McKenney, Daniel W., Allen, Darren J., Pedlar, John H.
Canadian journal of forest research = 2017 v.47 no.9 pp. 1222-1231
Monte Carlo method, bioenergy, burning, cost effectiveness, cost estimates, ecosystem services, forests, industry, landfills, models, surveys, transportation, wood, Canada
The burning of wood for bioenergy produces significant amounts of ash residue that requires disposal. We constructed a cost model to evaluate the unit costs of three ash disposal methods in the Canadian context: landfills owned and operated by the bioenergy facility, municipal landfills, and forest site application. The model accounts for costs related to the pretreatment, transportation, and disposal of ash at a landfill or forest site. Model parameter values were assigned appropriate distributions (based on published literature and industry surveys), and Monte Carlo simulations were employed to produce a range of model outputs for each disposal option. Results indicate that existing landfills (if available for ash disposal) are likely the most cost-effective option (median value of $77 per tonne), although applying ash to a forest site is only ∼15%–20% more costly (median value of $92 per tonne). Indeed, the unit cost estimates across disposal options have considerable overlap. This suggests that close examination of firm-specific circumstances is highly warranted when choosing a disposal approach, even in the absence of accounting for potential environmental benefits associated with forest site disposal of ash.