Biomass Site Assessment Tools (BioSAT)

Issue: National assessments of energy use highlight the need to develop renewable alternatives for electricity, heat, and liquid fuels. While biomass supply estimates have shown that nearly 300 million dry tons of woody biomass could be available each year, a key question is how to convert the wood into economically viable energy products.


Study Description:Biomass Site Assessment Tools (BioSAT) provides decision support for both agricultural and forestry cellulosic biomass. The studies public web-based guided assessments tools combine real-time update capabilities with research targeted to continuously add innovation and improve utility within the 33 eastern U.S. states. BioSAT integrates transportation, harvesting, and resource cost models that provide spatially-explicit economic supply curves for user defined bio-basins.

The resource, harvesting and transportation costs are included in the biomass estimate ($/dry ton) at user-selected sites. BioSAT helps rapidly screen and identify least cost woody and agricultural biomass collection or processing demand centers to locate favorable sites for full economic or business case due diligence. All records are organized at the U.S. Census Bureau 5-digit ZIP Code Tabulation Area (ZCTA) level (U.S. Census Bureau 2000) and matched with zip codes.

Examples of data layers within BioSAT include forest resources (logging residues, pulpwood, sawtimber), mill residues, agricultural residues, road network (travel times and distances), reserved lands, urban areas, intra-transport truck/railroad locations, and waterways. The average area for 5-digit ZCTAs is about 65.286 miles2 (168.993 kilometers2) and results in 25,307 potential analytical polygons or site locations. The BioSAT decision support tool Version 1.0 is available at:


  • Higher Resolution Regional Decision Support Tools
  • Mapping System to Identify Potential Sites
  • Identification of Opportunity Zones for Bioenergy Facilities.

The University of Tennessee; The Center for Renewable Carbon; Southeast Partnership for Integrated Biomass Supply Systems (IBSS); The Southeastern Sun Grant Center; North Carolina State University; The University of Georgia, Oak Ridge National Laboratory; USDA; U.S. Department of Energy; U.S. Department of Transportation; U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities and ArborGen.

Contacts: James H. Perdue—USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station