Demand for energy-rich forest fuels growing

Wednesday 24 Nov 2021

The use of forest-sourced biomass to replace fossil fuels is now gaining momentum across the forestry sector says the Bioenergy Association (BANZ) - Executive officer Brian Cox says “The opportunities for revenue from wood residues as a fuel for stationary heat, for producing renewable gases, and as a feedstock for transport biofuels has finally woken up suppliers in the forestry sector. There is an increasing and growing awareness of the opportunities for additional revenue from residuals and biomass that otherwise would be wasted or sold for a low financial return”.

“Recent enquiries from manufacturers for supply of biomass fuel have resulted in a number of new forestry sources coming forward. While many of these potential biomass suppliers have not previously been solid biofuel suppliers, new demand for biomass has them interested now,” says Brian Cox.

In some regions the total demand for biomass for stationary heat would be around 14% of their total plantation forest production so this new market is manageable and is also within the 15-20% of their production that is currently wasted. These volumes are easily achievable and can be additional to their existing business.”

“Some farmers are realising they can use up to 9% of their land for growing biomass. These are the slopes of gullies, shelter belts, riparian strips, and erosion control which can produce biomass that is suitable for processing into being a solid biofuel”. Biomass is available throughout the country so investment in distributed transport biofuel production facilities will occur near the sources of biomass. Some investors are also considering planting their own future sources of biomass.

With the expanding focus on future sources of biomass additional to existing land uses, plus new plantings with a view to future domestic uses, there is no doubt that there will be an on-going balance between demand and supply of biomass. “However, to ensure that having the right biomass in the right place, at the right time, will require good information from those who want biomass, to those who can supply biomass, right out to 2050. Communication between potential buyers and potential suppliers will be very important.”

The location and organised aggregation of woody bio fuels to meet the growing demand for industrial process heat users is a focus for the Residues to Revenues 2022 event that will be running for bio- fuel producers on 9-10 March 2022. Full details on the programme can be found on the event website.

Source: BANZ

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