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Short-rotation Forestry Of Birch, Maple, Poplar And Willow In Flanders (Belgium) II. Energy Production And CO2 Emission Reduction Potential

Inge Van de Walle, N. Camp, Liesbet Van de Casteele, K. Verheyen, R. Lemeur
Published 2007 · Environmental Science

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Abstract Belgium, being an EU country, has committed itself to a 7.5% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions during the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. Within this framework, the Flemish government aims at reaching a share of 6% of renewable electricity in the total electricity production by 2010. In this work, the biomass production of birch, maple, poplar and willow in a short-rotation forestry (SRF) plantation after a 4-year growth period served as the base to calculate the amount of (electrical) energy that could be produced by this type of bioenergy crop in Flanders. The maximum amount of electricity that could be provided by SRF biomass was estimated at 72.9 GWh e  year −1 , which only accounts for 0.16% of the total electricity production in this region. Although the energy output was rather low, the bioenergy production process under consideration appeared to be more energy efficient than energy production processes based on fossil fuels. The high efficiency of birch compared to the other species was mainly due to the high calorific value of the birch wood. The maximum CO 2 emission reduction potential of SRF plantations in Flanders was estimated at only 0.09% of the total annual CO 2 emission. The most interesting application of SRF in Flanders seemed to be the establishment of small-scale plantations, linked to a local combined heat and power plant. These plantations could be established on marginal arable soils or on polluted sites, and they could be of importance in the densely populated area of Flanders because of other environmental benefits, among which their function as (temporary) habitat for many species.
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