GIS-based Multi-criteria Evaluation with Analytical Hierarchy Process to assess suitable areas for Willow Short Rotation Coppice production in Scotland
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In Scotland, agriculture remains the dominant form of land use in rural areas, indicating that the successful implementation of renewable energy strategies has the potential to provide opportunities for dedicated biomass crop production in the rural communities of Scotland. The methodology was developed for a study area surrounding Nethercleuch, Lockerbie in Dumfriesshire, Scotland. This is the largest biomass conversion plant in the UK and it is set to open near Lockerbie later in the year, this study investigates the potential for sourcing dedicated energy crops locally. This research presents a GIS-based methodology to locate the suitable areas for growing Short Rotation Coppice willow crops in Scotland by using cell-based multi-criteria evaluation. The Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP), Multi-criteria Evaluation method, has been successfully implemented in recent years in decision making processes, as well as in GIS. AHP was used as a decision support method for determining the weights of importance in selecting a suitable areas for Short Rotation Coppice production. In this study, Network Analysis was used to define service areas from Lockerbie. The economic potential of Willow Short Rotation Coppice is known to be heavily determined by the existing road networks, as the condition affects the cost of logistics and hence the viability of investments. When accessible areas were defined, suitability factors were identified based on communications with experts, scientific journals and the network distance from the plant. The factor layers are then overlaid and compiled by the subjective weights in order to create an overall cost surface to determine the suitable areas for Willow Short Rotation Coppice production.