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Eastern Oregon Biomass Assessment
Biomass Resource Assessment and Utilization
Options for Three Counties in Eastern Oregon
Project Goals and Objectives
The goal of this biomass resource assessment was to promote the cost-effective, sustainable use of biomass energy in Baker, Union and Wallowa Counties. The assessment focused on the use of biomass for electric power generation or conversion to ethanol fuel. The objectives were to:
  • Identify how much biomass is generated in the region
  • Determine how much biomass is available, where it is located, its physical and chemical characteristics and the cost
  • Provide information on best locations for a potential biomass site in each county
  • Evaluate the economic and environmental impacts of biomass use; and
  • Provide an overview of biomass energy technologies, feedstock requirements, and the economic potential to convert biomass to electricity or ethanol.

The Biomass Resource
The biomass resource in the study area consists of forest biomass, wood products manufacturing residue and agricultural crop harvesting residue. Sources of forest biomass include forest fuels reduction projects, commercial timber harvest, non-commercial thinning and timber stand improvement activities. Wood manufacturing residue consists of bark, sawdust, chips and veneer cores. Agricultural residue consists of straw, grass and leaves left over after harvesting the major crops in the region, which include grass seed, spring wheat, winter wheat, oats and barley.
The overall approach to assessing the biomass resource was to first estimate the quantity of material generated from forestry and agricultural activities in the area. Then, taking into account technical and environmental constraints, the study evaluated the quantity of material that could be recovered and made "available" for biomass energy uses.
The assessment found the following quantities of biomass could be available on an annual basis in the three-county area. Amounts are in "green" tons (that is, including the weight of moisture present in the biomass).
Forest Biomass425,934 tons
Wood Products Residue310,252 tons
Agricultural Residue80,009 tons
Total816,195 tons
Economic Impacts of Biomass Utilization
The assessment concluded that the use of biomass for electric power or ethanol production would have net economic benefits. These economic benefits would include increased employment in a rural, natural resource-based economy. An estimated six jobs are created for each megawatt (MW) of biomass power capacity that is installed. These jobs include positions at the plant and also in the fuel processing and delivery sectors.
A 5-MW biomass power plant would use an estimated 123,000 green tons of fuel per year and would create an estimated 16 new jobs at the plant with payroll and benefits equal to $600,000. A 25-MW biomass power plant would use an estimated 430,000 green tons of biomass per year, but would only require one additional employee at the plant, for a total of 17 employees. Total payroll and benefits for the 25-MW biomass power plant would equal $641,250.
In addition to jobs at the plant, the development of a biomass power facility would stimulate employment in the fuel supply and delivery sectors (fuel procurement). The 5-MW plant would employ approximately 18 people in fuel procurement. A 25-MW plant would employ 54 people in fuel procurement.
Therefore, a 5-MW plant would support 34 new jobs, including plant operations and fuel procurement. A 25-MW plant would support 71 new jobs.
A 15-million-gallon per year biomass ethanol facility would employ approximately 30 people at the plant. Approximately 70 people would be employed in feedstock supply and delivery systems, bringing the total economic impact to approximately 100 new jobs. The biomass ethanol plant would require approximately 600,000 green tons of biomass per year. The higher feedstock requirements and sophistication of plant equipment result in a higher employment impact for a biomass ethanol plant than for a biomass power plant.
Final Report
To reduce download time, we have divided the final report into the following parts:
Download Part 1 (25 pages; 0.7 MB)
Includes: Cover, Table of Contents and Executive Summary
Download Part 2 (35 pages; 1.4 MB)
Review of Previous Studies
Forest Biomass Generation and Availability
Wood Products Residue Generation and Availability
Agricultural Residue Generation and Availability
Download Part 3 (34 pages; 1.2 MB)
Facility Siting Analysis
Biomass Cost and Supply
Biomass Characterization
Download Part 4 (35 pages; 0.4 MB)
Issues for Sustainable Biomass Utilization
Environmental Impacts
Economic Impacts
Biomass Facility Characteristics
Conclusions and Recommendations
Download Part 5 (48 pages; 0.8 MB)
Appendix A. Summary of Key Regional Studies
Appendix B. Bibliography of Biomass Studies
Appendix C. Biomass Estimate Table
Appendix D. List of Potential Conversion Sites
Appendix E. Permitted Boilers in Study Area
Appendix F. Sustainability Focus Group Materials
Appendix G. State Farm Wildfire Program
Appendix H. Summary of Biomass Incentives
Appendix I. Overview of Gasification Technology
You may request a print version of the final report (printed in black-and-white only). Send your name and full mailing address by e-mail to John White at the Oregon Department of Energy.
About This Project
In December 2003, the Oregon Department of Energy and its project partners completed a biomass resource assessment for Wallowa, Union and Baker Counties. The resource assessment was carried out under a grant issued to the Department by the USDA Forest Service. Federal funding was provided through the Forest Service National Fire Plan and Title IV of the Department of the Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. The project partners were:
  • Oregon Department of Energy
  • Oregon Department of Forestry
  • Wallowa Resources (Wallowa County)
  • Grande Ronde Model Watershed Council (Union and Wallowa Counties)
  • Baker County Board of Commissioners (Baker County)
McNeil Technologies, Inc., performed the project technical work. McNeil has completed numerous technical support contracts with USDOE´s Office of Fuels Development, Office Power Technologies and Office of Industrial Technologies and with the Western Regional Biomass Energy Program, the Federal Energy Management Program and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.