A Multi-Criteria Decision Support Tool for Biorefinery Siting
Martinkus, Natalie Bartosh
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Cellulosic and advanced biorefineries face significant challenges in the road to commercialization. Many have failed to reach or maintain commercialized status due to significant upfront construction costs, high feedstock and production costs, and high risk associated with new technologies. Cellulosic and advanced biofuels must provide reduced life cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 60% and 50%, respectively, over an equivalent petroleum baseline to meet regulations set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Renewable Fuel Standard. Additionally, support at the community level can enhance or hinder a biorefinery’s success. Repurposing existing industrial facilities into biorefineries may reduce capital expenditures, and selecting facilities based on biorefinery operational costs that vary geospatially may provide operational cost reductions. Additionally assessing facilities for their community social assets and GHG emissions along the supply chain can illuminate those best suited for repurposing based on multiple siting goals. Considering economic, environmental, and social factors concurrently in biorefinery siting may further reduce investment risk and aid in meeting emission reduction standards. To this end, a decision support tool (DST) is developed at a strategic level to aid stakeholders in selecting existing industrial facilities as biorefineries through assessing economic, environmental, and social metrics using criteria, weights, and scales. Criteria are selected as quantifiable siting metrics, weights define the relative importance of each criterion, and scale values allow for assessing facilities against each criterion based location-specific values. Economic criteria are derived from biorefinery operational cost components that vary geospatially, including a criterion to assess each facility’s repurpose potential based on the infrastructure and assets present. The environmental metric is defined as GHG emissions aggregated along the supply chain, reported as 100-year global warming potential. The social metric is defined by two factors, the number of jobs created and three county-level social assets that together indicate a community’s potential receptivity to a new biorefinery. A score is created for each facility, and user-defined overall metric weights adjust the final scores based on stakeholder goals. The DST may be utilized in any region for assessing the repurpose potential of industrial facilities based on a given biofuel conversion process and regional feedstocks.