Woodcache PBC

The Updated Billion-Ton Resource Assesment

Anthony Turhollow, Robert Perlack, Laurence Eaton, Matthew Langholtz, Craig Brandt, Mark Downing, Lynn Wright, Kenneth Skog, Chad Hellwinckel, Bryce Stokes, Patricia Lebow
Biomass & Bioenergy
Peer Reviewed: Yes
Year Published: 2014

Key Takeaways:

  • Composite operations (which combine traditional forestry with fuel reduction/thinning) are the largest and most economic source of woody biomass, with 43 million metric tonnes of wood available at a roadside price of $44/tonne or less.
  • The supply curve for forest residues is effectively flat, with willingness to pay higher prices not translating into greater supply availability.
  • Potential biomass availability from thinning-only operations is only 14% the size of composite operations supply.


This paper summarizes the results of an update to a resource assessment, published in 2005, commonly referred to as the Billion-Ton Study (BTS). The updated results are consistent with the 2005 BTS in terms of overall magnitude. The 2005 BTS projected between 860 and 1240 Tg of biomass available in the 2050 timeframe, while the Billion-Ton Update (BT2), for a price of 66 $ Mg 1, projected between 994 and 1483 Tg in 2030. For the BT2, forest residue biomass potential was determined to be less owing to tighter restrictions on forest residue supply including restrictions due to limited projected increase in traditional harvest for pulpwood and sawlogs. Crop residue potential was also determined to be less because of the consideration of soil carbon and not allowing residue removal from conventionally tilled corn acres. Energy crop potential was estimated to be much greater largely because of land availability and modeling of competition among various competing uses of the land. Generally, the scenario assumptions in the updated assessment are much more plausible to show a “billion ton” resource, which would be sufficient to displace 30% or more of the country’s present petroleum consumption and provide more than enough biomass to meet the 2022 requirements of the Renewable Fuel Standard.