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Kunii D.,Policy Resarch Institute | Sawauchi D.,Policy Resarch Institute | Hayashi T.,Policy Resarch Institute
Studies in Regional Science | Year: 2014

In order to contribute to planning woody biomass promotion policies, biomass utilization projects should be assessed not only for economic feasibility, but also for resource availability and environmental performance. Especially, estimates of the amount of resources available are important for carrying out the projects. Without this, the projects may have difficulties procuring resources, and environmental and economic performance would not be achieved for the targets. There are numerous studies on assessment of biomass projects from viewpoints of resource availability, and environmental and economic performance. However, most of these studies have been conducted on each aspect individually. In this study, we proposed a new assessment tool for woody biomass projects. The tool includes estimation of the amount of available woody resources and matching with supply and demand, as well as assessment of both environmental and economic performance. As a case study, we applied the tool to a project for firewood promotion in Nishiwaga, Japan. Using the tool, we estimated the amount of available woody resources and the transport costs for the resources by using a Geographic Information System, and matched the resources with demand and supply by using linear programming, and finally calculated the greenhouse gas balance and economic impacts both on a household and on the local economy. From the results, we found that only 36% of the woody biomass resources were actually available in Nishiwaga, and there was enough wood resource supply to cover the demands for firewood in Nishiwaga. However, we also found that when we looked at each community, some communities would have to import woody resources from other communities in the town within the next ten years even if they had enough resources available in their communities. This is because it would be much cheaper to import than to supply domestically. In terms of environmental performance, the amount of GHG reduction was 1.9 CO2-t per household per year. From the economic aspect, converting from kerosene to firewood can increase money flow in the town and induce a positive economic impact on the local economy. From the case study, we found that it is important to understand not resource potential but resource availability to ensure resource procurement and it is also important to look at spatial constraints and transportation costs of resources as well as resource availability. All these aspects are considered in the tool proposed in this study. This tool can be applied not only to woody biomass but also to other types of biomass for energy. We believe the tool can contribute to more practical policy making for local resource use. © 2015 Japan Section of the Regional Science Association International. All rights reserved.

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