Identifying the Potential for a Biorefinery within the City of Guelph, Ontario using a Geographical Information System Based Analysis
Despite recent technological advancements, Ontario is still heavily dependent on the use of fossil fuel resources (IESO, 2015). Second generation biofuel production provides a continuous and transferable supply of heat and electricity, and has potential to be an alternative energy source to fossil fuels. However, successful biofuel production sites are limited to areas of high biomass density, and few studies include both forestry and agriculture sources of biomass within Ontario. This study aims to approach these constraints through the investigation of theoretical second-generation biomass quantity and spatial density, including crop and forest biomass resources within the southwestern Ontario counties: Dufferin, Peel, Perth, Waterloo, and Wellington. The purpose of this investigation is to determine the feasibility of a biorefinery site near the City of Guelph. The factors and variables involved in modeling second-generation biomass resources are identified, and the application of the model is conducted using the GIS-based software ArcGIS. Through the generation of spatial density maps, average potential biomass yields are determined using focal statistics. In order to determine whether sufficient biomass resources can support a potential biorefinery near Guelph, the density maps are analyzed using several methods.The main results of this model show that forest and fallow land (diverted to the production of switchgrass) only contribute approximately 2.3% of total biomass yield. Implementing a sustainability threshold which excludes crop yields that produce less than 61 bushels per acre, reduces the biomass yields by 4%. The total biomass yields estimated within 50 and 100 kilometer service distances provide enough energy to supply the City of Guelph with 12.3% and 28% of annual electricity consumption. Therefore, siting a biorefinery near the City of Guelph is found to be feasible.