Landscape-scale fuel treatments for forest fire hazard reduction potentially produce large quantities of material suitable for biomass energy production. The analytic framework FIA BioSum addresses this situation by developing detailed data on forest conditions and production under alternative fuel treatment prescriptions, and computes haul costs to alternative sites at which forest biomass-based energy production facilities could be constructed. This research presents a joint-optimization approach that simultaneously selects acres to be treated by fuel treatment prescription and assigns bioenergy production facility locations and capacities. Effects of alternative fuel treatment policies on fuel treatment effectiveness, economic feasibility, material produced, generating capacity supported, and the location and capacity of assigned facilities are evaluated. We applied this framework to a 28-million-acre, four-ecosection landscape in central Oregon and northern California. Using a maximum net revenue objective function while varying acres treated and effectiveness benchmarks, we found the study area capable of producing estimated net revenue of 5.9 to 9.0 billion US$, treatment of 2.8 to 8.1 million acres, biomass yield of 61 million to 124 million green tons, and bioenergy capacity of 496 to 1009 MW over a 10-year period. Results also suggest that unless small-capacity (< 15 MW) facilities achieve efficiencies over 90 percent of what large-capacity facilities can achieve, they do not represent a viable alternative, given the large amount of biomass. Analysis of a range of facility capacities revealed robustness in the optimal spatial distribution of forest bioenergy production facilities.
Daugherty, Peter J.; Fried, Jeremy S. 2007. Jointly optimizing selection of fuel treatments and siting of forest biomass-based energy production facilities for landscape-scale fire hazard reduction. INFOR. 45(1): 17-30