Assessing Sustainable Bioenergy Feedstock Production Potential by Integrated Geospatial Analysis of Land Use and Land Quality
Development of viable bioenergy economies will require large increases in biomass feedstock production. Improved methods are needed to quantify production potential based on land availability, land suitability, biomass yield, and cost. We developed such a method and applied it throughout New York State. While maintaining existing forest and agricultural production, we quantified additional sustainable biomass production potential using geospatial and yield modeling that integrates remotely sensed and survey data for land cover, soil type, climate patterns, and crop yields and then applied multiple sustainability constraints. Nearly 680,000 ha with varying quality was found to be available and suitable for new biomass production. Predicted yields ranged from 7.8 to 18.3 Mg/ha for short-rotation willow and 6.9–16.3 Mg/ha for perennial grasses for a total production potential of 8.2 Tg/year. Increased forest harvest could produce an additional 4.3 Tg/year of hardwood and 1.6 Tg/year of softwood. In total, an additional 14.2 Tg/year of biomass for bioenergy could be produced while maintaining existing agricultural and forest production. This new biomass, before processing, would contain energy equivalent to 7.4 % of 2012 New York energy use (3.4 % if converted to ethanol).