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 The University of Tennessee | Institute of Agriculture

Tennessee Rural Economic Development

Project Summaries

September 2012
Researchers at the University of Tennessee Department of Agricultural and Resources Economics were awarded a three-year USDA grant to study the impacts of an advanced biofuel economy on job creation, business establishment growth, local emissions, and water quality. The development of the renewable (or so-called “green”) energy sector is expected to become an important economic driver of local and regional economies in this century. This expectation is partly based on energy production targets set by federal and state governments to encourage the expansion of the industry. The new paradigm expands the umbrella of biomass-to-bioenergy products to include so-called advanced biofuels such as green diesel, and drop-in fuels like biobutanal or “syn-gas”. These industries are still in infancy as multiple stakeholders commit time and resources to determine the sustainability of these technologies. Findings from this project will assist in the development of an economically efficient and sustainable second generation bioenergy sector in the Southeastern United States by identifying cost-minimizing sites for facilities that convert biomass into energy. The research approach integrates high-resolution spatial information on transport networks and feedstock potential, industry concentration information, and cost-minimization routines to site multiple plants competing for limited feedstock, infrastructure, and human capital resources under several policy scenarios (e.g., price incentives for biomass production, environmental requirements, and national biofuel targets). The resulting distribution of processing firms represents a hypothetically mature industry. In sequel, we analyze the impact facility sitings have on local employment, jobs, income, and the growth in businesses needed to support job creation, along with the impact of feedstock demand on water quality and the effects of transportation logistics on emissions.

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