After all, today the majority of forest residues, such as branches and tops, are still left in the forest. Also, the volume of roundwood extracted for other uses is significantly less than its volume growth in Europe. But what are the ecological and environmental constraints to use forest biomass from European forest resources for energy? A report recently published by the European Environment Agency assesses the potential of bio-energy from European forests, taking into account environmental constraints.
Researchers from the European Forest Institute, who provided the review, conclude that the most interesting resource potential from the economic point of view is in forest residues. They continue that depending on the future development of prices for energy and carbon emission credits, substantial market changes could occur until 2030. This could lead to the reallocation of wood resources, especially from board manufacturers as well as the pulp and paper industries, to the bio-energy sector.
What is noteworthy as well, is that if wood ash were returned to the forests to compensate for the depletion of nutrients with the residue extraction, the environmentally compatible energy potential would be higher than in the current circumstances.
The new EEA report, which contributed to a wider EEA study on how much bio-energy Europe can produce without harming the environment (EEA, 2006), is now available here.
Anu Ruusila | alfa
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