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Cost evaluation of alternative switchgrass producing, harvesting, storing, and transporting systems and their logistics in the Southeastern USA

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Author Info

  • James A. Larson
  • Tun-Hsiang Yu
  • Burton C. English
  • Daniel F. Mooney
  • Chenguang Wang

Abstract

Purpose – The US Department of Energy has a goal to make ethanol from biomass cost competitive with petroleum by 2012. Feedstock procurement is expected to represent a significant portion of the operating costs for a refinery that produces ethanol from biomass such as switchgrass. Thus, cost-effective feedstock logistics will be a key factor for the future development of a capital intensive cellulosic ethanol industry. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the cost of various logistic methods of switchgrass production, harvesting, storing, and transportation. Design/methodology/approach – This study applied enterprise budgeting and geographical information system (GIS) software to analyze the costs of three logistic methods of acquiring switchgrass feedstock for a 25 million gallon per year refinery. Procurement methods included traditional large round and rectangular bale harvest and storage systems and satellite preprocessing facilities using field-chopped material. The analysis evaluated tradeoffs in operating costs, dry matter losses during storage, and investment requirements among the three systems. Findings – Results suggest that the preprocessing system outperformed the conventional bale harvest methods in the delivered costs of switchgrass. Practical implications – The cost savings in harvest, transportation, and dry matter losses for the preprocessing system offset their extensive capital costs and generated cost advantages over the conventional methods. Social implications – The traditional round bale system has a higher overall investment cost, may not be the most cost-effective way to procure switchgrass feedstock for a refinery, and may limit farmer participation in the feedstock value chain. Originality/value – GIS methods combined with enterprise budgeting can be useful tools for evaluating investment in feedstock supply chain infrastructure.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Emerald Group Publishing in its journal Agricultural Finance Review.

Volume (Year): 70 (2010)
Issue (Month): 2 (August)
Pages: 184-200

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Handle: RePEc:eme:afrpps:v:70:y:2010:i:2:p:184-200

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Related research

Keywords: Agriculture; Fuels; Geographic Information Systems; Plants; United States of America; Value chain;

References

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  1. Lawrence D. Mapemba & Francis M. Epplin & Charles M. Taliaferro & Raymond L. Huhnke, 2007. "Biorefinery Feedstock Production on Conservation Reserve Program Land," Review of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 29(2), pages 227-246.
  2. Larson, James A. & Mooney, Daniel F. & English, Burton C. & Tyler, Donald D., 2010. "Cost Analysis of Alternative Harvest and Storage Methods for Switchgrass in the Southeastern U.S," 2010 Annual Meeting, February 6-9, 2010, Orlando, Florida 56518, Southern Agricultural Economics Association.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Mafakheri, Fereshteh & Nasiri, Fuzhan, 2014. "Modeling of biomass-to-energy supply chain operations: Applications, challenges and research directions," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 116-126.
  2. Sharp, Benjamin E. & Miller, Shelie A., 2014. "Estimating maximum land use change potential from a regional biofuel industry," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 65(C), pages 261-269.
  3. Okwo, Adaora & Thomas, Valerie M., 2014. "Biomass feedstock contracts: Role of land quality and yield variability in near term feasibility," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 67-80.

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