Integrated Feedstock Supply Solutions
Which feedstock is best? Well, it depends.
Where is the optimal location for a biorefinery? Well, it depends.
What’s the best method for collecting, harvesting, storing, transporting biomass? Well, it depends.
How much does a ton of feedstock cost at the farm gate? At the biorefinery gate? Well, it depends.
It may sound odd to claim to be the experts in biomass supply and decline to answer these questions commonly heard in industry circles today. The problem isn’t that we don’t have commercial-ready, sustainable feedstock systems ready to deploy. But you won’t get the right answer if you ask the wrong questions, and these are the wrong questions to be asking.
A biomass feedstock is an input into a downstream conversion process. The right questions to ask are what is the risk profile and the portion of total cost of manufacturing attributable to feedstock for a given feedstock supply solution? And how does that compare to an alternative feedstock supply solution?
An efficient and optimized feedstock solution requires tight integration of all elements of the biomass supply chain. A higher yielding energy crop may sound appealing, and obviously yields are an important component in evaluating feedstock solutions. But yields alone are not sufficient to drive effective biomass supply decisions. Every element of the complex biomass supply chain must be considered and integrated and ultimately monetized. Components of this integrated feedstock supply chain include the seed you choose and its associated management, performance, quality, and cost profile; the productivity of the soil; the competitive value of that land for other uses; the duration and terms of contracts for crop production or land control and use; the previous history of land use and weed pressures; crop planting methods, equipment, labor, capital and timing; management and maintenance of crop stands; timing and management of harvest cycles and windows; selection of harvesting, collection, and aggregation equipment and the efficient use of that equipment with respect to capital, maintenance, labor, fuel, and scheduling; bulk density and efficiencies in handling, labor, storage, transportation, receiving, size reduction, and product quality over time associated with a particular harvesting methods and practices; methods and management of crop in-field crop aggregation and handling; where the feedstock is stored, how it’s staged and stored and managed, equipment, capital and labor requirements associated with storage, how long it’s stored, and associated changes in moisture, quality, and dry matter losses during storage; equipment, capital, labor, and fuel associated with transportation, managing and scheduling pickup, transportation and delivery logistics. While not an exhaustive list, it is clear that any one of these elements or others can have significant impacts on the cost of a particular feedstock supply solution, as well as expected feedstock availability, quality, and risk.
Genera has the industry’s most comprehensive and mature approach to developing and implementing fully integrated feedstock supply solutions that are tailored to a particular location, conversion technology, and other project-specific details. Ultimately, a feedstock solution only works if it consistently provides the right feedstock to a user, when they need it, where they need it, in the right form and quality, at a price that enables them to develop the project and operate profitably. Simultaneously, a feedstock solution only works if it provides a fair return to the landowner and helps him or her manage risk and cash flow while preserving and even improving the future productivity of the land asset. Contact Genera to discuss how we can help develop and deliver a customized feedstock supply solution.