Utilization of biomass from logging residues for renewable energy production depends on forest harvesting businesses. As biomass markets emerge, businesses will need to adapt to meet operational requirements. Logging businesses that supplied biomass for energy production in Virginia were surveyed regarding operations and attitudes. Results show that businesses across a broad range of total production levels (150 to 6250 tons/wk) harvested biomass and roundwood using integrated harvesting operations with whole tree chippers. Businesses had produced biomass an average of 6.8 years. Sixty-one percent of operations utilized a single loader at the landing for processing roundwood and biomass. Biomass accounted for an average of 28 percent of each respondents total reported production and was often produced with relatively large (median = 600 horsepower) chippers with an average age of 12.5 years. Characteristics of operations where business owners agreed they profited from biomass production were compared with those that were neutral or disagreed. Business owners that agreed they profited had an average investment of $188,500 in biomass production equipment, versus $377,143 for the neutral/disagree group (P = 0.02). Respondents indicated they were more likely to begin harvesting biomass to satisfy landowners and diversify operations rather than in response to encouragement from consuming facilities. Most owners viewed biomass harvesting positively and plan to continue production in the future.
Author(s), editor(s), contributor(s):
Barrett, Scott M. Bolding, M. Chad Aust, W. Michael Munsell, John F.