The joint Nordic-Baltic collaborative research project ENERWOODS (wood based energy systems from Nordic and Baltic forests) has now concluded after four years of research and outreach. The project results clearly demonstrate both the leading role of forests and forestry in today’s renewable energy systems, and the large and often overlooked potential for further expanding the supply of wood and woody biomass – both in the short run, but particularly when employing a scope of 2050 and beyond.
It is expected that a 50-100 percent increase of forest productivity at the stand scale is possible. This is a conservative estimate and is viewed relative to today’s most common forest types, and in a sustainable forest management context.
The ENERWOODS project included partners from Sweden, Finland, Norway, Latvia, Estonia and Denmark. The results and conclusions apply to these “ENERWOODS-countries”.
GREBE partner Luke (Natural Resources Institute Finland) had the lead on the Work Package 2 – Forestry logistics. WP2 focused on wood procurement principles and systems optimized towards much higher woody biomass production, long distance transportation and precision supply.
How to provide bioenergy in the Nordic and Baltic regions? Wood is the future!
- Wood and woody biomass is already the most important source of bioenergy in the Nordic and Baltic region.
- Harvesting low-grade wood material can foster an increased biofuel supply in the coming decades.
- Forests can become more productive, and adaptive to climate change by using well-known silvicultural measures
- Forests can thereby contribute much more to a sustainable development of our societies towards carbon neutrality by 2050
- by genetic improvement, introduction of non-native tree species, fast growing nurse trees, fertilization as well as afforestation.
Utilisation and implementation depend on policies and regulations as well as public perceptions of nature conservation, biodiversity, recreation, game management, ground water etc. Diverging interests related to forestry and conservation can be aligned.
The large forest areas and the well-established forest management, forest industry and infrastructure in the Nordic and Baltic regions makes these regions well prepared along all of the value chains to implement the more intensive management if confidence in the profitability can be justified.
Woody biomass is already the largest contributor to our renewable energy systems. An increase of this component is likely to need relatively small additional investments to provide a high impact compared to other alternatives in the renewable energy systems.
Measures needed to reach the potentials of forests and forest management
The region is already in the frontline of replacing fossil energy with renewables. Currently renewables provide 46 percent of the total energy consumed, which is far more than the average EU target of 20 percent by 2020. Bioenergy and waste account for 65 – 97 percent of the renewable energy in Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Estonia and Latvia. Forestry products are the dominant fraction of the bioenergy supply. Unfortunately, statistics do not distinguish between biomass and waste nor the various sources of biomass (forestry, farming, peat etc.).
ENERWOODS results indicate that modern logistic systems should be based on larger trucks than now, in addition to the trains and ships that generally are recognized at the most cost and climate efficient means for transportation whenever feasible.
Some of the measures mentioned can be implemented with short notice (fertilization and afforestation). A common rotation length in the region is now typically 70 years – longer under colder climate and shorter under warmer climate, and very much depending on e.g. other site conditions and species. Consequently, a full implementation will take longer than the 70 years.
The ENERWOODS project results can be relevant and find implementation possibilities also in the Northern Periphery regions and GREBE partner countries.
The complete ENERWOODS executive summary can be found through the following link: http://enerwoods.ku.dk/boxes/recommended-reading/ENERWOODS_Executive_summary_v._3.pdf