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Utilization of biomass energy resources in Ohio: A linear programming model


Ohio has a substantial area covered by forests, which ensures abundant supplies of woody biomass. Wood manufacturing companies also generate significant volumes of industrial residues. Current biomass electric technology utilizes both forest biomass and industrial residues and is a viable option for generating commercial electricity. Biomass power plants may have a promising future, especially with the prospective regulatory changes that will make the electricity market open for competition. To provide an alternative source of energy to consumers, biomass power plants can generate commercial energy by using biomass resources such as industrial and forest wood residues which can be marketed as "green power."

Substantial quantities of biomass resources are generated from forests (tops and limbs) and wood industries (saw dust, chips, bark, edging, etc.). While industrial wood residues are utilized for numerous purposes, forest residues are currently not being used for energy generation, primarily due to the excess supply of industrial wood residues from wood manufacturing companies. Because of their high collection cost, forest residues are not as competitive in price as industrial wood residues, and are therefore left on the site. With the prospect of biomass power plants as a viable option for commercial energy production in Ohio, forest residues can be utilized effectively to meet the new demands for biomass resources. Energy crop plantation can also be practiced in Ohio to supply biomass feedstock for generating commercial electricity, if needed.

This study reviews the current and potential use of biomass energy resources. The future generation of commercial electricity from wood biomass will increase the utilization of wood and forest residues in Ohio. A linear programming (LP) model is developed to identify potential sites for biomass power plants based on availability of forest and industrial wood residues. This LP model can be used to examine various policy issues having to do with the use and disposal of industrial wood and forest residues in Ohio and this model can easily be adopted in other states.

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