Biomass & Bioenergy, Vol.32, No.3, 185-197, 2008
Fast-growing poplar plantations as a bioenergy supply source for Canada
This study explores the economic feasibility of biomass for bioenergy from fast-growing hybrid poplar plantations established on agricultural lands in Canada. Using a spatial bioeconomic afforestation feasibility model, we report break-even supply costs for two broad scenarios: first with only merchantable fibre having value and secondly, a "fibre-plus-carbon" scenario with carbon sequestered valued at $5 t(-1) CO2-e. Five levels of biomass processing capacities were examined in each scenario (90, 230, 450, 1500 and 3000 ktonnes per year) using 241 settlements across Canada as potential locations for bioenergy facilities. Supply costs here include plantation establishment, maintenance, agricultural land rent, harvest and transportation to nearest community. In relative terms three geographic regions had the most promise: the northern Prairies, central Ontario and parts of the Maritime Provinces. Smaller-scale bioenergy projects were attractive for Eastern Canada (Ontario and the Maritimes). The Prairie Provinces were most attractive for larger facilities with break-even supply costs exceeding 5$ GJ(-1). Adding carbon incentives at 5$t(-1) CO2 decreases average costs of delivered biomass by 0.57-1.38$GJ(-1); however, these cost estimates are still above the current delivered costs of sub-bituminous coal. Crown Copyright (c) 2007 Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.