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Wood: An Abundant, Renewable Feedstock for Biofuels & Biochemicals Producers

September 09, 2016
Author: Suz-Anne Kinney

For project developers and investors pursuing greener replacements for petroleum-based fuels and chemicals, the choice of feedstock is a critical early decision point. From algae and animal and vegetable fats to agricultural crops and municipal solid waste, the possibilities are numerous.  As the oldest energy source on the planet, wood is a logical choice as a biofuels or biochemicals feedstock.

Why wood? Wood works because it is:

  • Plentiful - The number of trees growing in the U.S. has increased by over 50% in the past 60 years.
  • Available - The wood supply chain is mature and stable; trees move easily from the forest to processing facilities, keeping inventory needs low.
  • Renewable and sustainable - More trees are grown than are harvested every year. Inventory growth in forests outpaces harvest levels.
  • Scalable - Underutilized wood basins are easy to identify; siting a facility in an underutilized wood basin allows additional demand to be easily accommodated during scale up.
  • Flexible - Wood can be used both as a primary feedstock (as an end-product raw material) or as a secondary feedstock (as a source of process energy).
  • Clean and efficient - Wood is cleaner than agricultural waste; wood not used in primary processes can be used in secondary ones or sold.

According to Tracy Leslie, Director of Biomaterials and Sustainability at Forest2Market, wood has an additional benefit. “Timber has a long-term, reliable investment timeline. Unlike annual crops, which can be easily rotated and quickly move out of the market, it takes time to grow trees. Timber owners are committed to longer time frames. The length of the timber rotation period means that the quantity of wood supply can be forecast to provide a clear picture of future availability. Project developers, investors, lenders and government officials can all be assured that feedstock will be available to the processing facility throughout the life of the project as a result. This makes wood-based projects bankable.”

Suz-Anne Kinney: +1 980 233 4021 or
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