Advanced Hardwood Biofuels Northwest (AHB) is a consortium of Pacific Northwest university and industry partners led by the University of Washington. AHB is carrying out research and development to support a system that will use renewable feedstocks like hybrid poplar to produce a suite of products that are currently derived from petroleum. AHB will focus on the development of a renewable bio-based chemical industry. Developing poplar-based biofuels including jet fuel, diesel, and gasoline that can supplement existing fossil fuels is the long term goal. A bio-based chemical and fuel industry will revitalize rural communities through job creation and economic development, decrease the nation’s dependence on foreign oil, and move the nation toward a clean energy and product economy based on renewable materials with a low carbon footprint.
Economic Analysis of Poplar Production Adoption in Farmlands of the Northwest United States
Fuel biomass producing crops like poplar have the potential of providing renewable sources of energy with positive net carbon footprints, and economic returns. This research project explores the potential of poplar adoption in the Pacific Northwest considering an incumbent crop mix and existing economic information on crop prices, yields and productions costs. The model employs a programming approach whose objective is to maximize net returns to land and management and self-calibrates to a base dataset of incumbent crops without poplar adoption. The crop mix includes field crops, forages and grains, which have a relatively low return per unit area. Poplar both irrigated and rainfed is introduced by employing a decreasing returns to scale production function obtained from simulated yields. The model evaluates for a range of prices of poplar, the crop mix that will maximize net returns to farm and management. Modeling results indicate that poplar can displace some of the incumbent crop groups provided farmgate price of the poplar biomass is high enough.