Economic Aspects of Renewable Energy from Agricultural Waste on the Southern Plains of Texas

Motivated to explore sustainability of renewable energy from bio-waste, this study attempted to discover the economic feasibility of effectively utilizing the existing agricultural waste to generate bio-energy, to complement local nucleus business by meeting specific market demands while assessing the reasonable risk associated with bio-energy production for an area with heavy concentration of agricultural production and serious water constraints. Since the problems to be addressed are all location specified critical points for bio-energy generation, GIS maps are used to identify the locations and the associated attainable volumes of agricultural waste. Meanwhile, reasonable variation and distribution of attainable cotton gin waste was identified by using a Monte Carlo Markov Chain simulation. Consequently, the constrained expected profit maximization model was specified to assess the optimal plant size, application of technologies and associated production outputs under multiple scenarios of market situations. Conclusions based on the study results include that the possibility of peaking power contact for bio-energy outputs is critical for taking advantage of larger scales of bio-energy production, reducing the production risk and enhancing the competitiveness of bio-energy products. Gasifying biomass is a feasible way to generate electricity for peak load needs while satisfying self consumption and incidental sale if necessary facilities connecting to the grid are available. Mobile pyrolysis plants have sufficient potential for profits all the way through effectively converting biomass to bio-oil, hence increasing the feasibility of a large-scale bio-energy facility and the capability to meet the needs of higher valued peaking power by utilizing an existing facility at local power plants in the study region. Also, the study results imply that production of bio-energy from agricultural waste has higher risks, and the variance of profits could be immense even though at a typical area with heavy concentrations of agricultural production. Technology improvement associated with reduced expenses for plant facilities or the increased converting efficiency would be the key components for dealing the risk and commercializing bio-energy products in long term.

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 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2017-08-25

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