Internal, external and location factors influencing cofiring of biomass with coal in the U.S. northern region
The use of biomass as a source of energy has been identified as a viable option to diminish reliance on fossil fuels. We parameterized the effect of selected internal (e.g. coal-fire presence), external (e.g. price and renewable energy mandates) and location (e.g. biomass availability, infrastructure) variables on the likelihood of using biomass in cofiring with coal by building a two-stage econometric model. The first stage controlled for factors driving the spatial location of coal power plants and the second stage concentrated on factors influencing cofiring. The empirical model was applied in the Northeast quadrant of the U.S. where the unit of observation was an individual county. Results of our model stress the significant effect of existing flexible coal feeding systems that permit the incorporation of biomass, transportation infrastructure and biomass availability (woody biomass in particular in the form of residues from the wood products industry). State-level renewable energy portfolio standards showed no statistically significant effect on the adoption of cofiring biomass with coal. Further developments of biomass cofiring in the U.S. northern region are most likely to take place in the Great Lakes region.
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