The northern woods of Wisconsin make an economical local source for cellulosic ethanol, according to a recent study on the feasibility of a cellulosic ethanol plant in Niagara, Wis.
New North, Inc., a regional collaboration effort focused on promoting economic development in northeast Wisconsin, says second-generation biofuels made from wood waste can emerge as a leading fuel source on the heels of the Wisconsin paper industry. Feasibility studies show that using wood co-products from a Niagara paper mill has a great deal of promise for potential investors, according to New North.
Today in the U.S., wood and wood waste (bark, sawdust, wood chips and wood scrap) provide about 2% of the nation's energy.
In addition to wood resources, the feasibility study notes the possibility of creating switchgrass supplier cooperatives in conjunction with the establishment of an ethanol plant in the area over the coming years.
The news is heartening given that investment in the Wisconsin biofuels industry has stalled due to financial problems in the state's ethanol industry. Wisconsin's largest ethanol plant, Renew Energy in Jefferson, filed for bankruptcy last year and plans for at least six ethanol refineries have been cancelled or put on hold because of the credit market downturn.