Evaluation of a Biomass-to-Biooil Supply Chain Using Forestry Products in British Columbia, Canada
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As one of the top ten emitters of carbon dioxide in the world, Canada has a crucial role to play in helping to meet the global emissions reduction target of 50% by 2050. In the past few decades, renewable energy sources have been pushed to the forefront of global energy policy, and biomass energy sources in particular have proved to be effective in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. With an estimated 8-10 million oven dry tons of forest residue available in British Columbia each year, forestry products represent an underutilized resource in Canada that can offer significant opportunities as feedstock in biomass to bioenergy pathways. The goal of this project was to assess the feasibility of developing a pyrolysis plant in British Columbia, in which woody biomass could be used to generate renewable biooil. In order to determine how economic costs and environmental impacts of biomass-to-biooil supply chains are affected by different variables, 10 life cycle assessments (LCAs) were reviewed and analyzed. The main findings of this study were that total CO2 emissions can range significantly from project to project, but generally increase with scale and distance that residues are transported. Similarly, while total costs can vary considerably, transport costs tend to increase with haul distance, and cost per gallon of oil generally decreases with larger plant size. Overall, it was determined that while analyzing different LCAs can provide us with general trends, the varying functional units and parameters between assessments makes it very difficult to compare them directly. Therefore, further research unique to B.C is required before any project decisions can be made in the province. These findings provide insight into which details are often lacking in life cycle assessments, and can inform future research on biomass opportunities in British Columbia.