A recent study by FPL economists Peter Ince (retired) and Prakash Nepal finds that U.S. output of wood fuel feedstock did not decline significantly during the recent recession. What’s more, production is projected to rise in the coming decades.
The study, Effects on U.S. Timber Outlook of Recent Economic Recession, Collapse in Housing Construction, and Wood Energy Trends (FPL-GTR-219), is a veritable banquet of economic insight. For a snack-like bite of data, feast your eyes on these two graphs:
The above graph represents historical and projected U.S. production of wood fuel feedstock by region. Production in all U.S. regions is projected to increase with a nearly two-fold increase by 2060.
Likewise, this graph represents historical and projected U.S. production of wood fuel feedstock by source. Ince and Nepal report that the projected expansion in U.S. wood fuel feedstock will include conventional fuelwood harvest, increased supply of fuel residues from mills, and eventual expansion in the recovery of logging residues for energy purposes as demand increases. The use of pulpwood for energy is also projected to increase. Pulpwood is already used to produce wood pellets, including pellets for export.
Ince and Nepal define wood fuel feedstock to include residential fuelwood, wood and wood residues used in the production of biofuels such as wood fuel pellets, and wood fuels used for industrial processes, such as wood or bark burned for energy at forest product mills or wood that is co-fired with coal at power plants.
For a more in-depth look at this research, see the Winter 2013 edition of FPL’s quarterly newsletter, NewsLine.