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UN report sees growing importance of biomass

Feb. 11, 2011, Paris, France – The United Nations year of the forest in 2011 is being launched with a number of reports outlining a positive role for forestry industries, and biomass in particular.


February 11, 2011
By Argus Media

Feb. 11, 2011, Paris, France – The United
Nations year of the forest in 2011 is being launched with a number of reports
outlining a positive role for forestry industries, and biomass in particular.
The UN's flagship study, The State of the World's Forests 2011, paints a
healthy picture for energy crop growers, calling for greater industrial
integration, increased productivity, and the rapid adoption of technological
advances. The report says demand for wood fuels, and resulting land use, will
increase as public policy drives changes in energy consumption, promoting
biomass over more carbon-intensive energy.

“The rising demand for land as a result of
bioenergy policies is an emerging trend. Although the impacts of these policies
remain uncertain and some policies are currently being revised, it seems likely
that these developments will result in significant new demands for land and
wood fibre,” the report says.

The report highlights the speedy growth in
industrial wood pellet sales as an innovation that can increase demand for
woodland, but also raises efficiencies in traditional wood fuel supply chains.
Policy decisions are creating rapid growth in demand for wood energy, requiring
significant quantities of wood to be moved internally within nations and across
borders.

The study also highlights some difficulties
facing the biomass industry, including the fractured nature of forestland,
which is often divided into small parcels. Technological innovation can be slow
to reach areas where many landowners each own small amounts of woodland. The
relatively small size of the industry “restricts the development of suppliers,
subcontractors, service providers, and other supporting infrastructure, and
fragmentation makes it difficult to achieve economies of scale and other
efficiency gains,” the report says.

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The report predicts that the European Union
emissions trading scheme will adversely affect companies that “have not
invested in low-carbon technologies such as biomass boilers. Carbon costs for
biomass-based plants will be lower than for fossil fuel plants, especially
those that use coal.”

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