Assessing the potential for biomass energy development in South Carolina

  • Author(s): Conner, Roger C.; Adams, Tim O.; Johnson, Tony G.
  • Date: 2009
  • Source: Res. Pap. SRS–46. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Southern Research Station. 19 p.
  • Station ID: RP-SRS-046

An assessment of the potential for developing a sustainable biomass energy industry in South Carolina was conducted. Biomass as defined by Forest Inventory and Analysis is the aboveground dry weight of wood in the bole and limbs of live trees ≥1-inch diameter at breast height, and excludes tree foliage, seedlings, and understory vegetation. Several possible sources of biomass were analyzed: unutilized logging residue and standing residual inventory trees on acres with tree harvesting; commercial thinning; precommercial thinning on overstocked natural saplingseedling stands; mill residue; and urban wood waste. A range of prices from $20 to $30 per ton was established by surveys sent to South Carolina’s timber producers. Prices reflect 2008 market conditions. The estimates of potential biomass distributed across these price points rose from 4.8 million tons to a total of 16.5 million tons annually. Nearly 7.7 million tons are currently being utilized. New facilities that use wood to produce energy could capitalize on the 8.8 million annual tons of unutilized biomass and operate without overly impacting existing forest industries or increasing harvest levels above 2006 estimates.

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