Webinar Demonstration of NREL’s BioEnergy Atlas Tools (Text Version)
This is a text version of the video for Webinar Demonstration of NREL’s BioEnergy Atlas Tools presented on Dec. 16, 2015.
Recorded Voice: The broadcast is now starting. All attendees are in listen-only
Moderator: Good morning or good afternoon. I'm Sandra Loi from the
National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Welcome to today's
webinar on the BioEnergy Atlas tools. The Department of Energy's
Bioenergy Technologies Office funded the BioEnergy Atlas tools,
which includes biofuels and biopower atlases. These tools are
designed as a first-path visualization tool that allows users to view
many bioenergy and related databases in Google Maps.
Kristi Moriarty and Anelia Milbrandt from NREL will lead the
webinar and will demonstrate the tools and review the data
sources. Before we get started, I'll go over a few items so that you
know how to participate in today's webinar. As noted at the start of
the webinar, all attendees are in listen-only mode and will remain
so through the entirety of the webinar.
When you logged into today's webinar, by default, you will be set
to listen in using your computer speaker system. If you would
prefer to join over the telephone, just select "telephone" in the
audio pane, and the dial-in information will be displayed.
We will be hosting an online question-and-answer session at the
conclusion of the presentation. We encourage you to submit
questions as the presentation takes place. You can do so by typing
your questions into the questions pane of your control panel. We
will collect these and address them during the Q&A session at the
end of today's presentation. We are recording today's webinar, and
we will be posting it within the next two weeks.
And without further ado, I'd like to pass the webinar over to Kristi
Moriarty. Kristi, you may begin.
Female: Thank you for the introduction. And just briefly, before I get
started in showing you how to use the tool and discussion of the
data sources that we used in this tool, I'm going to have Dan
Getman, NREL's GIS team lead, speak briefly on the architecture
and the IT behind the system. Thanks, Dan.
Male: Yeah, thank you, Kristi. So I won't bore you guys to death with
technical details, but I think it's important to, when you think about
the tools that we're showing, they are independent things that
people go and use on their own. But they are also part of a much
larger framework at NREL that we have built as sort of a
grassroots effort to provide access to geospatial and spatial
temporal data and analysis in a variety of domains.
And so these tools are built using a platform called Open Carto,
which had been around for seven or eight years now, and has been
funded to – through and used to build applications in almost every
domain of renewable energy that DOE supports. And so we work
with transportation; we work with hydrogen; we work with
biomass, biofuels; we work with solar, wind; we do international
applications – all using the same framework.
And the reason why this is critical is that these frameworks can be
complicated to build and expensive to build and maintain. And by
doing it in this way, by leveraging open-source tools and
leveraging opportunities to produce functionality across all of these
different domains, we have leveraged funding across all these
domains to make every single application better. And so when we
do analysis in something like BioEnergy Atlas, that helps support
things that we do in Solar Prospector, and when we do something
in Wind Prospector, to do a visualization, that comes back and also
helps support BioPower Atlas. And so the servers, the data, the
databases, the architecture development, and all of this is a big,
fully collaborative effort across several groups at NREL and across
several offices at DOE and branching out into leveraging funds and
opportunities to produce capabilities with other agencies like
USAID and even international organizations, like International
Renewable Energy Agency.
Female: Great. Thank you, Dan. Appreciate that. And if anyone has
questions on the architecture IT, please just submit them, and we'll
have Dan respond to those at a later time.
So I'm going to start with going through each data layer and
explaining how they work. And Anelia is going to dive into some
of the data sources that she prepared for this tool. So we don't have
a corn or soybeans feedstocks 'cause those are very well
developed, and those plants are largely built. So the focus is on
advanced feedstocks and cellulosic feedstocks, so we have sugar
beets and sugarcane in here because they are considered advanced
So any time you have a data layer turned on, to the right, you'll see
a down arrow and a question mark. The down arrow allows you to
download the data for the entire country. And the CSV format, that
allows you to have it in Excel, and the other three data formats
allow you to use it in a GIS system if you want to use it in your
own tool or in mapping.
The question mark shows you the data source. So in this case, for
sugar beets and sugarcane, the come from a five-year average
production from USDA data from the National Agricultural
Statistics Service. So anytime that you hit the question mark on
one of these data layers, you're going to have the date for the data
layer, and an explanation and usually a link so you can get to that
data source if you want more information on it. There's also a
legend for each, and in the case of the feedstocks, it's generally
going to be in tons per year, 1000 tons per year, and you can adjust
the transparency so that you can see other data layers or see an area
And then, over here, we have Home. What that's going to do, it's
just going to re-center you on the U.S. We do also have Alaska and
Hawaii, but for the purposes of this demonstration, I'm going to
focus just on the continental 48. You can print the map that you're
looking at. The feedback, if you put something in there, the
question's generally going to come to me, and we will respond.
This is just built in Google Maps, typical zoom in, zoom out. This
one allows you to zoom in a specific region, and the bullseye-
looking one allows you to enter city, state, specific location. And
we're probably going to add that up to here, to the menu bar,
eventually, so it's easier to find. Now, I'm going to move into crop
residues, and I'm going to have Anelia comment on the data
sources and the information related to these data layers.
Female: Thank you, Kristi, and thanks, everybody, for joining us today. For
gas, we use the sugarcane production data from the USDA 2012
Census of Agriculture. And this data will _____ process using
crop-to-residue ratio in accounting for moisture content. For the
following five feedstock, mainly barley straw, corn stover, grain
sorghum stover, rice straw, and wheat straw, uses a slightly
different methodology. The base data still comes from the 2012
Census of Agriculture from the USDA.
For the process to estimate the crop residues, we applied the crop-
to-residue-production ratio and also account for moisture content.
We assumed that only 35 percent of the total residue could be
collected as biomass. The remaining portion is to be left on the
field to maintain ecological function.
We recognized that the retention rate could be more or less than
the 35 percent, we assume, and that depends on the crop type, the
soil type, erosion type – excuse me – climate conditions, and fuel
management practices. In reality, it is not a fixed percentage but
the range. This conservative value of 35 percent is used only for
illustrative purposes, and we strongly suggest that a more detailed
analysis conducted on the ground for planning and citing efforts.
Moving on to woody biomass, the forest residues, this category
includes logging residues and other mobile material. They are
derived from USDA Forest Service Timber Products Output
database in 2012. This database illustrates 65 percent of the
logging residues and 50 percent of other immobiles, which is the
portion that could be collected as biomass. The primary mill
residue just include wood materials – coarse and fine – and bark
generated at manufacturing plants when round wood products are
processed into primary wood products. This data is also from the
2012 TPO database from USDA.
Urban wood waste is data collected and generated here at NREL. It
includes wooden material from municipal solid waste, wood chips
and pallets, utility tree trimmings and private tree companies, as
well as construction and demolition sites. Data for – or I should
say base data for this type of analysis we use from the U.S. Census
Bureau, BioCycle Journal, and mainly their article and data
collection efforts for "The State of Garbage in America" in 2008.
We also used data from the County Business Patterns 2012. This is
a product of the U.S. Census Bureau. And all of these and
additional data sets were used and for the process to estimate the
amount of urban wood waste by county.
Moving on to the secondary mill residues. These residues include
wood scraps and sawdust from woodworking shops, for example,
furniture factories, wood containers and pallet mills, and wholesale
lumberyards. Data on the number of businesses by county was
gathered from the U.S. Census Bureau, 2012 County Business
Patterns, some additional data sources, and it was for the process to
estimate the amount of secondary mill residue by county.
We also have included biomethane layers. This is practically
cleaned up and purified biogas. The following four resources
included here in this analysis – methane estimate – sorry –
methane emissions from landfills, animal manure, industrial,
institutional, and commercial organic waste – this is really food
waste – and methane generation from wastewater treatment plants.
There's a lot more information for each of those type of feedstocks.
It's available ___ ___ and showing currently if you right-click
on these databases.
We also include data from the Billion Ton Study. This data we
organized by county and state, as it is on the KDF website. This
particular data set is for the year 2022 and is only for $60.00 per
ton. It's only for illustrative purposes. We strongly encourage your
folks to go the KDF and view additional data sources and
And finally, we have also energy crop yields data. This sort of data
is supplied by the Energy Biosciences Institute. This is a
collaborative between University of Illinois at Urbana, Berkeley
University, Berkeley National Lab, and BP. They provided data
from the Biofuels Ecophysiological Traits and Yields database for
these five crops. Thank you. I will stop here, and I'll let Kristi
Female: Great. Thank you, Anelia. Now, we're moving on to the biofuels
plants data layer. Here, we have the biodiesel plants, and those are
currently sourced from the National Biodiesel Board. We do plan,
at some point in the near future, to replace that with the monthly
review by the Energy Information Agency simply because they
update a little bit more often. Ethanol plants are routinely updated,
and those are from the Renewable Fuels Association. Integrated
biorefineries are those pilot pioneer plants and demonstration-scale
plants that are funded by the Department of Energy's Bioenergy
Moving on to bio power plants, these come from EPA's eGRID
database, and keep in mind that it might not include all power
plants because the data's from 2010, which was released in 2012.
And every few years, they update it, not on any time schedule, but
eventually, as they update their data, then we'll update it here. So
we have agricultural byproducts, digester gas, landfill gas,
municipal solid waste plants, wood and their byproducts, and pallet
Bioenergy sites are from the EPA, and as you can see, there's very
many. EPA's RE-powering America's Land Project did an analysis
of their brownfield and Superfund and other sites to look and see if
the necessary infrastructure was there to support a renewable
energy plant. And in the case of bioenergy, was there a biomass
feedstock resource nearby? And they would love for you to build
your bioenergy plants on of their sites.
Moving on to more of the traditional power plant area, we have the
oil refineries, which are sourced from Energy Information Agency
and are updated annually. And then, the power plants are also from
the EPA's eGRID database for the year 2010, so those are the coal
plants across the country.
The co-fire with biomass is a subset of these plants, and I think it's
interesting because it could represent competition for a biomass
feedstock, or you could contact one of these power plants and see
who's supplying their feedstock and at what price to get some good
information. And then, we also have the other renewable energy
plants, which are not biomass in here. It's geothermal and hydro –
natural gas, nuclear, other, oil, solar, and wind plants.
Alternative fuel station locations come from Department of
Energy's Alternative Fuels Data Center station locator. They're
updated monthly, and we include biodiesel stations and E85
stations in here at this time. However, if you're interested in other
fuels, such as hydrogen, those are available on the AFDC website.
And then, we also have vehicle densities, and these come from
IHS. It is a purchased data set that we purchase annually that has
registrations for all cars at every ZIP code level, so we include in
this diesel and flex fuel. But if you download the data set – we're
not able to share the exact numbers since it is a purchased private
data set, but in the legend, it's vehicles per five square miles. So it
does give you an idea of the concentrations in the area.
And one of the things that's made possible and quickly when you
have mapping data is I'm going to turn on the E85 stations, so you
have that and the flex fuel. Instead of looking at large spreadsheets,
I think I'll just go to New Jersey here. You can start to see a
opportunity. You know, if I'm looking in this space, you have this
high concentration of flex fuel vehicles in the Philadelphia area,
but there's not anywhere to refuel, so that could be an opportunity
to put in a station or a few stations in that location since there's
such a high concentration.
So now, I would like to show some of the functionality of the tool,
so I'll go ahead and click on "corn stover." And if you go on to the
query, if you do a point query, at least with county-level data, it's
going to bring up a couple of the counties in the level in that area
so you can see what's going on there.
If you go to Region Query – I'm just going to zoom in a little bit –
you can draw a box, and it's going to pull county-level data. So
you'll see down here I queried in Iowa all these different counties,
and then the tons per year that's generated, and you can download
and save to Excel, that regional query.
So with a custom one, this allows you to draw a random shape
that's not a rectangle and give you an idea of what's possible. Oh,
snap, you can't draw that. I did something that set it there, so that
didn't quite work.
And then Attribute Query is a little bit more advanced. So if you
just wanted to know, for example, maybe in a state, corn stover,
that's greater than 100,000. And I'll just say for Colorado since
that's where those of us who are speaking are sitting, right now.
You can find out really specific data like that. It just gives you a
little bit more flexible to the query.
So the next feature that I'd like to show is the state query that I
think a lot of state energy offices and maybe some agricultural
offices might find interesting. We'll zoom in on Illinois here, so it
just brings you to zoom in onto the one state, and you can see here
on the left-hand side, we have state-level summary information, so
gasoline and diesel consumption, electricity and natural gas
consumption, a number of conventional power plants and their
generating capacity, oil refineries – their capacity, renewable
power plants. So that's going to be geothermal, hydro, wind and
And then, in the center, we have the bioenergy production and
infrastructure for the state, so number of biodiesel and E85
stations, ethanol and biodiesel plants and their capacity. And
sometimes, you might see that zero capacity, and that's just
because the plants aren't sharing that information and then the
biopower plants and their nameplate capacity.
Over here, the feedstocks, it's just totaling feedstocks for the state,
and the potential ethanol production is just based on the biomass
feedstock characterization database and timesing that by a 50
percent resource. It's just giving you an idea of what's possible. It's
not an exact calculation. And here, we have the data sources for all
the state summary tables, and you can download this table to
Next, we're moving to the analysis feature. So you click on this,
and it allows you anywhere on the map to draw a circle, but please
don't draw a circle on the whole country 'cause that'll really hit our
databases hard. So I'm drawing a circle on these counties in Iowa,
and what's happening over here is it's pulling in the total feedstocks
for those counties where the circle is, and then it's doing a potential
biofuel yield, which is based on the theoretical ethanol yield from
the biomass characterization database. I cannot say that word.
And you can edit that if you think you're going to get 100 gallons
per ton but only 25 percent of the feedstock. It gives you that new
number there. It just gives you an idea of what's possible in the
And then, Incentives is a new feature that we recently put in here
since that's a important thing to understand when you're siting a
bioenergy plant or going to use a fuel in a place, what's available.
So I've selected Oregon here. So that's pulling in the state
incentives for that state with biofuels, and if you click on the left-
hand side, it's going to give you a description of what's going on
And for biofuels, these are from the Alternative Fuels Data Center
laws and incentives, which is updated on the end of the legislative
calendar year for each state. If you want even more details, you can
click on this link, and it will take you to the Alternative Fuels Data
Center Website, so you can get even more information.
We also have the BioPower Atlas tool, so it's focused on
generating power from biomass resources rather than the biofuels.
And many of those same data layers are shared between the tools,
but there are some differences, and I'm going to have Anelia
comment on those.
Female: Right. So in terms of feedstock, the only difference is really we
have the same layers that's in the BioFuels Atlas. The only
difference here is that we've bundled all the crop residues layer
here just because of the nature of biopower. We don't really have
to distinguish between the different crop residues, but then, also,
the fact that, as we all know, biopower doesn't really use very
much of the crop residue. It's primarily focused on woody biomass,
so we just sort of follow suit in that area.
So but that's – it's really the same ___ ___ _____ [break in
audio]. We just sort of put them into a processing and harvest and
crop residue, but it's, again, the same type of data.
In terms of additional, layers, here we added to the EPA layers
and the greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources really as
a reference layers only to support decision making in terms of
reducing greenhouse gas emissions through the use of renewable
energy, in this case biopower. This data set comes from EPA, and
again, as you click on each of the layers, on the question marks,
you can gather more information for each individual layer.
Female: So with the analysis, the query works exactly the same with the
state zoom and with downloading the data behind, but the analysis,
obviously, for this is going to be – let me turn on a data layer, turn
on wood. But if I do analysis – I'll go over here in the Washington
area – same thing. It pulls in, from that circle, all that county-level
data for the crop residues and for the forest residues and methane
layers, and we have some pre-loaded assumptions in here, but
you're free to change in there these fields in white to see how that
changes the potential for the characteristics of the energy plant that
you're interested in.
And then, we've also added incentives for biopower. So click on
Colorado here. So same thing – you get information on a –
different biopower incentives are in the state of interest, but instead
of linking to _____ AFDC, power goes to the DSIRE database and
website. And you have a summary of the information here, and
then you have – if you click on the details, that's going to take you
to that website for even more information.
So that just rounds up how to use the tool, and luckily, we're not
going to take up too much of your time, but we're happy to answer
any questions, now. And if any came through during the webinar,
we will start to answer those. And if you have some now, feel free
to enter them into the question box.
Moderator: Great. So yeah, Kristi, thank you for your presentation, and,
Anelia, thank you so much – very informative. We did get a couple
questions online, and as Kristi said, you can go ahead and continue
to enter them in the questions pane, and we'll go ahead and address
as many as we can. The first one I had here, I think, is just related
to the BioFuels Atlas since that's what you started with.
Someone, I guess, is wondering when that tool is going to be live. I
guess they were running into an error message. I'm not sure if it's a
system glitch or something. I don't know if you're aware of any
Female: I'm not aware of any issues. Feel free to contact us back. If you
click on the feedback and let us know what area you're having,
we'll definitely look in – have the IT team look into that. The tool
is live and up and running, so let us know what browser you're on
so we can check that.
Moderator: Okay. Great. The next question I have here is, "Is land ownership
consider in any of the feedstock estimates? For example, for forest
residues, is there a distinction made between public and private
Female: No. The data comes directly from the Timber Product Output
database, and it is not structured in a way to distinguish between
those forestlands, but thank you – just the pure raw data in terms of
feedstock availability by county at this point.
Moderator: Okay. Great. Next question here: "Does the landfill layer just
include the listed 40 CFR landfills? Or does it screen out those
paths or production _____ or those with other LFG projects cited
Female: Landfill data ___ ___ _____ feedstock – I can mention,
briefly, about the feedstock. We did not speak about the
biomethane layer. I wasn't sure how much time we had – didn't
want to take too much time on the feedstock, but so the methane
emissions from landfills, for that particular estimate, we estimated
the methane emissions at each landfill. We considered the total
waste in the place, the status, whether or not it's opened or closed,
and the waste acceptance rate, using data from the EPA's LMOP
database – Landfill Maintenance Outreach Program. It was current
as of April 2013.
I would like to point out that for this analysis we included only the
candidate landfills because, as you know, there are about 2000 or
so landfills in the country. At the time, there were about 600 or so,
more or less, that currently had Waste-to-Energy Project on site.
So these were not included in this analysis, naturally, because they
already sort of have a production in place. But we did include,
again, only the candidate landfills because these were sort of
economically viable considered by EPA, so we sort of followed
And just as a reference again, all this information is available on
the layers if you click on the question mark. But EPA considers a
candidate landfill as one that is accepting waste or has been closed
for five years or less, has at least one million ton of waste, and
does not have an operational, under-construction project. And
these are also designated based on actual interest or planning. So I
hope that answers your question. I'm not sure what other landfill
layers we have, but I think this is the only one.
Female: There is the landfill power plant, and that only includes landfill
sites which are currently generating power, and that's the EPA
eGRID data layer.
Moderator: Okay. So, Kristi, I think you might've done this earlier, but
someone is asking if you could hone in on a particular county,
township, or city where a feedstock is located.
Female: Sure. If you go to the bullseye – and again, I feel this is pretty hard
to find. We're going to add this up to the Home area and call it
Find Location. I'll just say – so I zoomed in on Washington County
in Iowa. I'm assuming there's a county called Washington. I don't
know. I don't know what made me think of that, and we do have
the county boundaries, as well.
So you can zoom in on a longitude and a latitude, a county, a state,
a town. It works just like Google Maps. In fact, this is built in
Moderator: Okay. Great. So I think there was a little bit of a comment here –
person says, "I noticed that you didn't have wood-fired power
plants broken out in the query."
Female: Oh, right. Let me do a query – I did do the query just with some
feedstock data layers. I'll just run an additional query so you can
see 'em, and then turn on a bunch of data layers – maybe I'll do
digester gas, a bioenergy site, natural gas, and I think the Chicago
area has all of these things. So I'm going to do a query by region,
so I click on there. I'm going to draw my box kinda big, but I'm
hoping to capture a lot. The bigger the box, the longer it takes for
So as you'll see, it opens a bunch of tabs that shows the biodiesel
plants and their location and their capacity. For ethanol plants, it's
showing their location, their feedstock, and their capacity. For
digester gas, it is showing the operator and the ownership
information, its location, and its nameplate capacity and its annual
generation and its CO2 equivalent emissions.
EPA bioenergy sites gives you quite a bit of information about the
site in terms of acreage and that there's – the distance to powerlines
and highways and rail, which are really important infrastructure if
you're building a bioenergy plant. And then, they have the
cumulative biopower resource and biorefinery; by that, they mean
And these are calculated by EPA, so they might not exactly match
up with ours and then the latitude and longitude. And then, for the
natural gas, again, this is EPA data layer, a bunch of operator and
ownership information, the capacity, the generation, and the annual
CO2 equivalent emissions. And again, you can download all of this
to Excel to save for an area.
Moderator: Okay. Great. Next question here: "Do you have data on advanced
biofuels production and the database, such as the cellulosic fuels or
Female: What we have at this time, we don't have production data. Let me
turn off all these data layers since it's so busy. What we currently
have are just those integrated biorefineries, which are funded by
Department of Energy's Bioenergy Technology Office. Over time,
as we have more drop-in, or as we called them "renewable
hydrocarbon plants," we will add more data layers. At this time,
there's very few and small, and some of those are going to be
captured by the integrated biorefineries, but those minimal plants –
this is probably only one or two that don't get Department of
Energy money – aren't currently displayed. But over time, as they
become commercial, you'll see them in this tool.
Female: You can do the query, perhaps, and show them that they consider
capacity of each plant – right? – ___ ___ _____ that plant.
Female: Yeah, I'll just do a –
Female: And that'll give 'em the closest production just to get a sense of the
Female: Right. So ran a query on that and you can see the feedstock and the
capacity, the scale as a pioneer pilot, the conversion technology,
and what type of products they're making. So you can see there are
some renewable hydrocarbons in here, as well as cellulosic
Moderator: Okay. Next question – someone mentioned that they noticed in one
of the tools that there might've been a few biodiesel plants missing.
Is there a way maybe to add, or is there sort of a method for how
those are added into the database?
Female: Right. We're currently using National Biodiesel Board's data set,
but we plan on switching to the Energy Information Agency's
Monthly Review, and we think that will capture some of the ones
that are missing. But we are going to use a single data set, and this
isn't one of those tools, like Wikipedia, where we allow users to
enter data, but you can always contact us about that, and we can
notify the Energy Information Agency to make sure that that plant
is giving their information on that monthly form.
Moderator: Okay. Thank you. So just a comment here – someone is giving you
kudos – great resource, and they especially appreciate the inclusion
of the incentives in the tools and wanted to share _____.
Female: Thank you. We appreciate that.
Moderator: Mm-hmm. And then, I got some additional information, which we
can talk afterwards about, the gentleman who was having issues
with the site, and so we can follow up with you after, Timothy, and
see – make sure we can fix that for you. And at this time, I don't
see any new questions. If anyone has any additional questions, go
ahead and type them into the questions pane. We've gone through
the ones that are noted in here.
Female: Yeah and I will say, if anyone on this call – I'm sure you're aware
of a lot of data sets and some things that might not be included,
please do send them to us, and you can either contact us through
that feedback mechanism that's in the tool that's next to the Print
button. Or if you go on NREL.gov's website and click on About,
you can contact any employee. There aren't many people named
Kristi or Anelia, so you won't have any trouble finding us, but
we're always interested to know about new and different data
layers or functionalities that would be useful to users and happy to
hear that and also any other questions about how to use the tool.
We are recording this webinar. It's going to be made available on
Department of Energy's Clean Cities' website and probably also on
Department of Energy's Bioenergy Technologies Office. So you
can listen again if you found it so riveting, or you can pass it along
to your colleagues who may be interested in using this tool.
Moderator: Okay. Well, we have no new questions. If you have nothing else,
or Anelia or Kristi have nothing else, we can go ahead and wrap up
Moderator: Does that sound good?
Female: All right. Well, thank you everyone for joining us. As Kristi said,
the recording will be made available, so stay tuned for that, and
don't hesitate to reach out to any of us with additional questions.
Have a great day and thank you.
[End of Audio]