Farm-based Bioenergy Infrastructure for Wisconsin: Too Big, Too Little, or Just Right?

Quarterly Reports Other Documents Final Report
December 2010
June 2011
 Final Report

Primary Investigator

Carol Barford
Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment
204 Enzyme Institute
1710 University Ave
Madison, WI 53726


Wisconsin electric utilities must meet the state-mandated Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) of 10% by 2015. In addition, the Governor’s “Declaration of Energy Independence” calls for 25 % of electricity and 25% of transportation fuel to come from renewable resources by 2025. While wind is expected to provide the largest share of electric power from renewable sources, biomass is also expected to be a major source of electric power and heat. In order for Wisconsin farms to help meet these ambitious goals, provide food and feed, and still maintain environmental quality, the entire bioenergy supply chain must be as efficient as possible.


The proposed study will define the optimal scale of bio-based heat and power infrastructure development in Wisconsin, and describe the physical, financial and ecological constraints on the bioenergy life cycle.


  1. Create two maps of Wisconsin farm bioenergy feedstock production: a low-production scenario utilizing only non-prime farm land, and a high-production scenario that replaces significant acres of row crops and forage.
  2. Using geographic information system (GIS) software, power conversion locations will be chosen to minimize transportation distances while utilizing available biomass feedstock and meeting reasonable capital constraints.
  3. Formulate life cycle sub-models of biomass transportation storage, processing, and power conversion to use with farm-based sub-models from the Green Cheese project.
  4. The metrics in task three will be explored via sensitivity analysis, focusing on uncertain future conditions such as fossil fuel prices (US DOE 2009), interest rates, and land availability.

Project Information

  • Duration: 25 months
  • Dates: January 1, 2010 – January 31, 2012
  • Budget: $149,438
  • Student Involvement: One graduate student
  • Modal Orientation: Highway, Rail
  • Project ID: CFIRE 04-25
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