Mapping it Out

Wisconsin groups develop bioenergy atlas.
By | January 25, 2011

Developers looking at Wisconsin as a home for biomass projects now have an easier way to obtain information about the state’s current use and availability of resources.

The Wisconsin Bioenergy Information and Outreach Network has launched an interactive online atlas to help utilities and municipalities assess forest biomass supply potential, give entrepreneurs access to supply and technology networks, and provide policymakers with statewide information on bioenergy and environmental resources.

The mapping tool was developed by UW-Madison Land Information and Computer Graphics Facility, UW-Extension, the Wisconsin Bioenergy Initiative and the Energy Center of Wisconsin.
The atlas is free and users can select data useful to their interests and use mapping tools to zoom into an area to display and query the results. Categories include existing biofuel producers (pellet, ethanol and biodiesel), agricultural and forest-based resources, potential biomass cropland, political boundaries, and utilities and transportation methods such as landfills, roads, transmission lines, natural gas pipelines and railroads.

Troy Runge, director of the Wisconsin Bioenergy Initiative, says funding for the atlas initially came from several state sources, but the groups are continuing to look for additional monies to improve and sustain the idea. If additional funding is achieved, planned future phases of the project would add an online marketplace for suppliers, aggregators, buyers and consultants to conduct business.

—Anna Austin