Identifying Effective Biomass Strategies: Quantifying Minnesota's Resources

The profile of bio-power (electricity generated with bio-mass fuels) is rising with America's concerns about the effect of fossil fuels on the environment. Bio-power's contribution to U.S. energy supply has been flat since the mid 1990's. That soon may change, however. The federal Energy Information Administration expects bio-power generation to double by 2025.

This study seeks to provide an objective evaluation of Minnesota's biomass resources, not to argue for or against particular bio-power projects or initiatives. Because bio-power responds to emerging state and federal energy policies, bio-power projects almost certainly will be designed and built. The question is how best to accomplish that within the limitations of natural and financial resources, including the pocketbooks of electric ratepayers.

To that end, this study can help developers evaluate, select, build, and operate effective biopower projects, and help policy makers frame measures to support them. It has three components: (1.) a computer-based interactive calculator, the Bio-Power Evaluation Tool (BioPET), that identifies locations, types, and volumes of biomass fuels, adds construction and operation costs for various energy conversion technologies using them, and calculates the costs of power generated by various combinations of the above; (2.) a web-based, user-driven, electronic GIS tool, called gopher, that graphically represents the locations of, and relationships between, relevant infrastructure and biomass resources; and (3.) a written report providing background on technical, economic, political, and management issues central to the implementation of bio-power projects.

By using all three of these components in parallel, developers can determine optimal combinations of location, infrastructure, biomass fuels, processing and conversion technology for their projects; funders can verify them; and policy makers can gauge the practi¬cal consequences of rules, regulations and laws. Con-versely, communities and economic developers can use these tools to scope out local resources they might use to attract bio-power developments to their areas.

Full Report (PDF)
Identifying Effective Biomass Strategies: Quantifying Minnesota's Resources and Evaluating Future Opportunities

Xcel Energy Renewable Development Fund - Gopher Biomass GIS