Uncovering Barriers to Domestic Biomass Investment

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Date

2015-12-04

Authors

Stroud, William
Gupta, Karan

Advisors

Richter, Daniel D.

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Abstract

Wood has been used as an energy source for hundreds of thousands of years, and even today, accounts for 10% of the global total primary energy supply. Though traditional uses such as heating and cooking are the most common applications of woody biomass today, modern heat and power applications such as district heating, industrial process heating, and electric power generation show great promise. Despite the development of efficient technologies, abundant forest resources, and widespread adoption in Europe, the use of woody biomass for heat and power in United States has not been widely adopted. Through a series of interviews with general industry stakeholders, as well as more targeted interviews with operations and fuel managers at biomass facilities currently in service, this report seeks to address the central research question, “What are the barriers to investment in domestic biomass facilities?” From interview responses, the most prevalent barriers to increased adoption included the low price of natural gas, logistical constraints around collecting, transporting, and processing biomass fuels, negative public perception, inconsistent policies around biomass utilization, and scientific uncertainty around the environmental impacts of biomass. To overcome these barriers, further scientific study will be required to evaluate the carbon neutrality of biomass, including life-cycle assessment with land-use change, facilities must be optimally sited to take advantage of favorable policies and existing forest products infrastructure, efficient applications such as district heating and combined heat and power must be prioritized, and public education efforts must be proactively undertaken.

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Stroud, William, and Karan Gupta (2015). Uncovering Barriers to Domestic Biomass Investment. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/11087.


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