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Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology

, Volume 137, Issue 1–12, pp 639–652 | Cite as

The relative cost of biomass energy transport

  • Erin Searcy
  • Peter Flynn
  • Emad Ghafoori
  • Amit Kumar
Session 3

Abstract

Logistics cost, the cost of moving feedstock or products, is a key component of the overall cost of recovering energy from biomass. In this study, we calculate for small- and large-project sizes, the relative cost of transportation by truck, rail, ship, and pipeline for three biomass feedstocks, by truck and pipeline for ethanol, and by transmission line for electrical power. Distance fixed costs (loading and unloading) and distance variable costs (transport, including power losses during transmission), are calculated for each biomass type and mode of transportation. Costs are normalized to a common basis of a giga Joules of biomass. The relative cost of moving products vs feedstock is an approximate measure of the incentive for location of biomass processing at the source of biomass, rather than at the point of ultimate consumption of produced energy. In general, the cost of transporting biomass is more than the cost of transporting its energy products. The gap in cost for transporting biomass vs power is significantly higher than the incremental cost of building and operating a power plant remote from a transmission grid. The cost of power transmission and ethanol transport by pipeline is highly dependent on scale of project. Transport of ethanol by truck has a lower cost than by pipeline up to capacities of 1800 t/d. The high cost of transshipment to a ship precludes shipping from being an economical mode of transport for distances less than 800 km (woodchips) and 1500 km (baled agricultural residues).

Index Entries

Biomass transportation ethanol transport pipeline transport power transmission rail transport ship transport transportation cost truck transport 

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Copyright information

© Humana Press Inc 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Erin Searcy
    • 1
  • Peter Flynn
    • 1
  • Emad Ghafoori
    • 1
  • Amit Kumar
    • 1
  1. 1.Mechanical Engineering DepartmentUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

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