Canadian Forest Service Publications
Enhancing the adoption of short rotation woody crops for bioenergy production. 2014. McKenney, D.W.; Weersink, A.; Allen, D.; Yemshanov, D.; Boyland, M. Biomass and Bioenergy 64:363-366.
Issued by: Great Lakes Forestry Centre
Catalog ID: 35492
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Short rotation woody crops (SRWC) have not been widely adopted as a viable feedstock for bioenergy production. We discuss three major information needs for R&D Managers improving adoption prospects for SRWC: (1) Understand how R&D affects the economics of SRWC – particularly “unit costs” of production; (2) Prices and trends for energy and environmental improvement and how these compare to SRWC costs; (3) Integrated biological and economic models. To enhance adoption prospects for SRWC R&D Managers should seek to lower unit costs to make these types of plantations more competitive with other energy alternatives. If non-market values are used as an argument to justify SRWC R&D investments managers still need to address adoption impediments. Even if non-market values are significant, adoption is required for society to realize benefits. We also argue that bioeconomic models can help identify needs, opportunities and challenges and illustrate some of these principles with an empirical example from Canada.
Plain Language Summary
A lot of research has been done about how to make short rotation woody crops (SRWC) a more attractive energy option. Interest in SRWC is motivated by its potential as a carbon-neutral, renewable energy alternative that could help fulfill energy needs while enhancing environmental quality. SRWC usually involves repeated harvests of the same willow and/or poplar rootstock on 2-4 year cutting cycles for a period of roughly 18-22 years and the more traditional but intensively managed block plantations. Despite the desire to increase the proportion of energy from plantation-based production and the positive prospects for SRWC, widespread adoption has been limited. This paper, a commentary on policies related to biomass and bioenergy, discusses three major information needs for improving adoption prospects for SRWC: (1) Understanding how R&D affects the economics of SRWC; (2) Prices and trends for energy and environmental improvement and; (3) Integrated biological and economic models. We discuss Canada specifically to illustrate these general concepts. We conclude that bioeconomic models can help to illustrate concepts important to the discussion and help decide where research dollars can best be spent.