Biorefinery site selection using a stepwise biogeophysical and social analysis approach

Natalie Martinkus, Sanne A.M. Rijkhoff, Season A. Hoard, Wenping Shi, Paul Smith, Michael Gaffney, Michael Wolcott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


A key factor in the production of economically viable and environmentally sustainable biofuels is biorefinery site selection. Facility location analysis has traditionally been driven by access to feedstock, proximity to customers, and local incentives. While economic constraints will always be major factors in site selection, incorporating social metrics may further reduce the cost of constructing a biorefinery. A community's disposition toward a biorefinery project may significantly impact implementation success: grassroots support can lower implementation costs while opposition may increase the costs of permitting blockages and other scale-up delays. The proposed biorefinery siting tool improves upon previous research by incorporating site-specific biogeophysical measures and more complete and comprehensive social measures of community innovation and capacity for collective action. A refined biogeophysical analysis assesses pulp mills for their potential as repurposed biorefineries. The social asset components of site selection are greatly improved by enhancing and disaggregating key metrics through the use of multiple indicators of community collective action capacity and propensity for change. The refined measures are integrated into a biorefinery site-selection tool. Pulp mills that rank highly in both the biogeophysical and social asset measures may be considered more suitable candidates for repurpose into a biorefinery. This enriched methodology has been applied to biorefinery siting decisions in the U.S. Pacific Northwest region; however, it is suitable for applications to infrastructure development projects in any region of the U.S.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-148
Number of pages10
JournalBiomass and Bioenergy
StatePublished - 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Forestry
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Waste Management and Disposal


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