Partners of European biomass study meet in Poland

Rokwood team discuss the outputs of a project on woody energy crops

29 May 2015

The Rokwood project held its penultimate meeting in Warsaw last week to kick off the final phase of the 3-year study on woody energy crops grown in short rotation plantations (SRPs). The European collaboration formed to address the triple aims of improving research and development, promoting market uptake and increasing investment in this biomass energy source.

At the meeting, representatives from the six partner countries and EUBIA (European Biomass Industry Association) gathered to share progress, to discuss upcoming tasks and review outputs. They were also invited to see some of Poland’s biomass energy sites – some of these will be featured in a case study booklet highlighting instances where challenges to crop production and use within the partner countries, have been addressed at each stage of the supply chain.

Martin Holley, who heads up CSE's involvement in Rokwood, explains further: "The site visits around Warsaw really emphasised the different scales at which energy crops can be relevant – from co-firing at the largest CHP district heating plant in Europe to a primary school using a basic biomass boiler and enjoying much lower fuel costs as a result. One of the key outputs of Rokwood will be the sharing of first-hand experiences from these and other European projects, which will hopefully lend confidence to the fledgling SRP industry in the UK.”

As the project nears completion, some of the key outputs are ready to be disseminated, and many of them will be made available for the public to view online. The Joint Action Plan is already on the Rokwood website. This document catalogues future joint activities, research areas and project ideas – it is intended as a strategy to help move the industry forward. Policy briefs outlining proposed policy measures that address barriers to SRPs in partner countries will be uploaded soon (the UK ones can be viewed here), as will the case study booklet.

Further to the written case studies, a staff exchange programme is currently seeing methods of best practise shared amongst project partners. From the UK cluster, the project is funding Kevin Lindegaard of Crops for Energy to visit Teagasc in Ireland, where he’ll be given an induction on research facilities for testing important crop characteristics such as moisture content, calorific value and lignin content. Following this, UK partners will visit Gurteen College in Ireland to see their SRP self-supply set up, and the village of Beuchte in Germany for a tour of the district heating system which is supplied by locally-grown SRP.

A final product of the study is the Rokwood Marketplace, which has been set up for organisations to showcase their business offers and find partners. It is anticipated that this will be the largest publically available database of SRP businesses in the world. Any institution involved in the production or use of woody biomass from SRPs can be included in the listings by registering here.

There will be a Rokwood delegation at the 23rd European Biomass Conference & Exhibition being held this week in Vienna where partners will be holding a session on “Short rotation plantation – a winning strategy for the sustainable production and efficient use of woody biomass”.

Stay up to date with our work - sign up for our fortnightly newsletter