, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp 989-1001
Date: 22 May 2012

Delivered Biomass Costs of Honey Mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa) for Bioenergy Uses in the South Central USA

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Abstract

Honey mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa Torr.), a multistemmed tree that grows on grasslands and rangelands in the South Central USA (Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico), may have potential as a bioenergy feedstock due to a large amount of existing standing biomass and significant regrowth potential following initial harvest. The objective of this research was to determine the cost to harvest, store, and deliver mesquite biomass feedstock to a bioelectricity plant under the assumption that the rights to harvest mesquite could be acquired in long-term leases. The advantage of mesquite and similar rangeland shrubs as bioenergy feedstocks is that they do not grow on land better suited for growing food or fiber and thus will not impact agricultural food markets as corn grain ethanol has done. In addition, there are no cultivation costs. Results indicated that mesquite biomass density (Mg ha−1) and harvesting costs are major factors affecting cost of delivered biomass. Annual biomass consumption by the bioelectricity plant and percent of the total system area that contains biomass density that is suitable for harvest significantly affected land- related factors including total system area needed per bioelectricity plant and transport costs. Simulation results based on actual biomass density in Texas showed that higher and more spatially consistent biomass density would be an important factor in selecting a potential location for the bioelectricity plant. Harvesting mesquite has the potential for bioenergy feedstock given certain densities and total land areas since higher harvest and transport costs are offset by essentially no production costs.