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 The University of Tennessee | Institute of Agriculture

Tennessee Rural Economic Development

Bio-Based Energy

Why Bioenergy?

Biomass is a renewable resource consisting of plant matter like trees, grasses, agricultural residues, and other biological materials. Biomass is converted to bioenergy to be used as both electricity and transportation fuel.

Almost $49.1 billion is spent annually by the U.S. government to defend the flow of Persian Gulf Oil - the equivalent of adding $1.17 to the price of a gallon of gasoline.

It is clear that America's continuing reliance on imported crude oil and refined petroleum products is imposing an enormous financial burden on the nation's economy - a burden that is a threat to the nation's economic and military security.

Bio-based energy has the potential to create jobs, increase economic development, and reduce U. S. dependence on foreign sources of fuel.


BEAG uses the following models to analyze data:

  • POLYSYS - a national, interregional, agricultural model
  • IMPLAN - a regional input-output model
  • FLARE - firm analysis of biofuel systems incorporating risk and uncertainty at the farm and conversion facility levels
  • BIOFLAME - a siting model
  • BeSTA - a biorefinery siting model

These models are used to estimate:

  • Supply and demand for biomass
  • Cost of biomass production
  • Conversion costs
  • Economic feasibility of bio-based energy
  • Regional and national economic and environmental impacts
  • Market opportunities for biomass and biofuels

These models can be supplemented with secondary source data, and are used to decipher the economic viability of a bio-based feedstock industry and its potential environmental impacts.


BEAG personnel contribute expertise in the following areas:

  • Agricultural Economics
  • Consumer Acceptance and Demand
  • New Crop Technology
  • Logistics
  • Business Structure
  • Rural and Economic Development
  • Economic Analysis and Systems Approach
  • Impacts of New Industry
  • Conversion of Biomass Feedstocks
  • Engineering Soil Chemistry
  • Agronomy
  • Computer Programming
  • GIS Systems

The diversity of BEAG personnel facilitates a range of integrative modeling and analysis of the bio-based industry.

A sustainable market for bio-based energy will require information from all of these areas. Decision-making will be made more efficient through the availablility of this up-to-date information.

Contact Us

Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics

Dr. Burton C. English
2621 Morgan Circle
308C Morgan Hall
Knoxville, TN 37996-4518
Phone: 865-974-3716
Fax: 865.974.4829