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Survey of Biomass Resource Assessments and Assessment ... - NREL

Survey of Biomass Resource Assessments and Assessment ... - NREL

Biomass

Biomass Resource Assessment Products and Assessment Methodologies Biomass resource assessment is essential in evaluating the bioenergy potential in a given location, the social and environmental impacts associated with resources production and (most important) the economic feasibility of biomass utilization scenarios. Biomass resource assessments guide industry development strategies and support decision-making processes. Biomass resource assessment products have different information characteristics and applicability. These products can be presented in a different format: tabular, graphic (charts or graphs), geographic (maps), or as analytical tools and software products. The assessments vary depending on the purpose and the level of detail required. The purpose of an assessment is to identify resource potential within a given area for a particular end use: power, heat, steam, or transportation fuel. There are three types of biomass resource potential: theoretical, technical, and economic, that build on each other in providing a comprehensive view of biomass energy opportunities. • Theoretical - Illustrates the ultimate resource potential based on calculation or measurement of the net primary productivity of the biome. • Technical - Limits the theoretical resource potential by accounting for terrain limitations, land use and environmental considerations, collection inefficiencies, and a number of other technical and social constraints. This type of potential is also called accessible biomass resource potential. • Economic – It is a subset of technical resource potential that applies economic parameters, which estimate the cost of biomass resources either at the field or forest edge. The final outcome of this type of assessment is a supply curve ($/tonne). The level of detail varies between biomass resource assessments. High-level, aggregated information - such as assessments at economy-wide, regional, and state/province level - are usually required by policy makers. Whereas more detailed information at a county/district or site-specific level is required by energy planners and project developers. The purpose of a biomass resource assessment and the level of detailed required dictate the method employed to assess biomass resources. The current evaluation methods include geospatial technologies, field surveys, and modeling. 9

Geospatial Technologies. These include remote sensing (RS), geographic information systems (GIS), and global positioning systems (GPS). Remotely sensed images, such as aerial and satellite images, provide an efficient and reliable way to monitor biomass resources over time. Remote sensing images have relatively fine spatial and temporal resolutions, similar to the data obtained by field surveys. These products range in spatial resolution from as coarse as every degree of latitude and longitude to as fine as every six meters, and can be at repeatable time scales. RS is the only technique available to monitor biomass resources at local, regional and global scales. This technique is used to estimate growing stock of biomass and forecast its productivity. RS provides a cost-efficient way to collect the required information at areas that are remote and poorly accessible. Remote sensing images are also the only practical approach to analyze land use and land cover change at economy-wide, regional, and global scales. Their patterns can be studied by comparing images acquired at different times. Figure 3 illustrates an example of high-resolution remote sensing images. Data derived from remote sensing images, such as land use/cover, elevation, and surface temperature, is further used in geographic information systems (GIS). GIS is a computer-based information system used to create, manipulate, analyze, and visualize geographically referenced information. It is a powerful tool for assessing biomass potential: It integrates many different types of data and provides a means of examining their spatial relationships. The concept of data overlaying in GIS is shown in Figure 4. GIS is particularly useful in estimating technical biomass resource potential by integrating various datasets such as crop/forest production statistics, land use, terrain, transportation infrastructure, and protected areas. It also can identify areas where the agro-climatic conditions are suitable for growing a particular crop or assess biomass resources available within a certain radius from a processing facility. 10

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