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France eyes biomass imports to meet targets

July 19, 2011, Perpignan, France – French energy authorities see demand for wood feedstock rising close to 10-fold between 2012 and 2020, placing strains on existing forestry infrastructures and raising the likelihood that shortfalls will need to be made up with imported wood.


July 19, 2011
By Argus Media

July 19, 2011, Perpignan, France – French
energy authorities see demand for wood feedstock rising close to 10-fold
between 2012 and 2020, placing strains on existing forestry infrastructures and
raising the likelihood that shortfalls will need to be made up with imported
wood. In addition, France will fail to meet its renewable energy targets for
2020 if start-ups of biomass-powered installations continue at current growth
rates.

The ministry for environment and energy
proficiency (Ademe) says the demand for wood used for energy will hit 3.3
million tonnes/year in 2012, rising to 7 million tonnes/year in 2015. But if
the country is to meet its planned installed capacity goals by 2020, this will
need to rise to 30 million tonnes/year. This is prompting Ademe to warn of the
need for vigilance over localized tensions concerning land use, soil fertility,
wood supply chain reliability, and issues surrounding the origin of imported
wood feedstock.

Part of the difficulty faced by France is
the fractured state of its land ownership. While 48% of France's 106,000 km²
(about 51,000 km²) is spread over just 68,000 different lots, the national
forestry inventory (IFN) says the other 52% (about 54,000 km²) is held in
parcels of less than 0.25 km², spread over 3.4 million plots.

To try and counter these difficulties,
Ademe is to undertake a pilot project in the Auvergne region of France. It will
seek to give landowners greater information about forestry potential, structure
owners into regional groups, improve management techniques, and modernize
harvesting practices. For France to hit its national energy plan using biomass,
Ademe says it must move quickly “to lay out a series ambitious plans to
co-ordinate the mobilization of the biomass sector over the short, medium, and
long term”.

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