Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name


Department or School/College

Department of Economics

Committee Chair

Helen Naughton

Commitee Members

Katrina Mullan, Nathaniel Anderson


adoption biomass zinb heating regional science


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Agricultural and Resource Economics


New biomass combustion technologies and adequate biomass supplies have empowered the United States (U.S.) to look beyond satisfying heating needs with traditional fossil-based fuels, but biomass heating is often overlooked by many commercial and institutional entities. This study uses county level Zero Inflated Negative Binomial (ZINB) cross sectional regression analyses to identify economic factors that are favorable to the adoption of decentralized woody biomass heating systems by institutions in the U.S. In addition, biomass policy efficacy with respect to decentralized biomass heating systems is analyzed and regression results are used to develop an expansion map that highlights counties in the U.S. that may be good targets for biomass heating. Across all three models higher heating degree days, population density, and available forest residues decrease the odds of a county not containing an institution using a decentralized biomass heating system, with forest residues being the best predictor. When predicting the likely count of institutions using biomass heating systems, heating degree days, commercial natural gas prices, median house value, available biomass from lands treated under the National Fire Plan, and the proportion of Forest Service land have statistically significant coefficients that are positive. An increase in each of these variables is positively associated with an increased likelihood of one or more institutions using biomass. State policies in support of biomass use were shown to have a negligible effect on the number of decentralized biomass heating systems, while procurement policies related to utility infrastructure and renewable products and fuels specifically have a negative association. It is worth noting that, though level of active management resulting in biomass production is not a policy variable per se, it has important policy dimensions. Both federal land management practices and resources allocated to fuel treatments under NFP are highly subject to public policy decisions, including budget allocations for forest restoration and fuels treatments. Future expansion in the use of decentralized biomass heating systems is predicted to be most successful in counties in the Northwest and Northeast, and to a lesser degree in counties in the states of Michigan, Colorado, and New Mexico.



© Copyright 2015 Jesse D. Young