An article by Mark Rouleau, associate professor of social sciences and member of the ICC’s Center for Data Sciences, was recently published in the journal Landscape and Urban Planning, published by Elsevier. The article, titled, “Agent-based modeling for bioenergy sustainability assessment,” is co-authored by Robert J. Zupko II.
Article Abstract: Woody biomass bioenergy is an important renewable alternative to conventional fossil fuels. However, the negative land-use change impacts of biomass harvesting necessary for bioenergy production can potentially outweigh its positive benefits if poorly managed. In this paper, we explain how Agent-Based Modeling (ABM), a form of computer simulation, can be used to conduct a comprehensive bioenergy sustainability assessment to identify possible gains and trade-offs necessary to develop bioenergy in regions with large numbers of private family forest owners or smallholders who own a significant share of available biomass. We discuss how ABM simulation can overcome the barriers of existing sustainability assessment tools and provide a demonstration of the sustainability assessment capabilities of an ABM using a hypothetical case study that explores the introduction of a bioenergy conversion facility in the Western Upper Peninsula of Michigan, United States. We conduct a series of alternative futures scenarios and compare the sustainability outcomes of three alternative policy regimes using voluntary incentive programs to encourage smallholders to harvest biomass.
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