LIFE Project Cover Photo

Sustainable management of shrubs formations for energy purposes

Reference: LIFE13 ENV/ES/000660 | Acronym: LIFE ENERBIOSCRUB

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

BACKGROUND

The frequency and severity of forest fires in Europe is predicted to increase as climate patterns continue to change. Forest fires can have a significant negative impact, causing great damage to the environment and large volumes of atmospheric pollution, including significant emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs). Forest fires are estimated to account for around 20% of global GHG emissions, emitting some 8 200 Tg of CO2 and consuming around 5 130 Tg of biomass every year. In Mediterranean countries, especially Spain, forest fires represent a significant environmental and economic problem. According to the Spanish Ministry for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the Ministry for Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge, the average surface area affected by forest fires in the period 2002-2012 was 114 000 ha per year. In 2012, the figure was 210 000 ha. Figures indicate that around two thirds of the area affected by fires was scrubland (containing few trees), which have a high potential as a source of biofuel.


OBJECTIVES

The LIFE ENERBIOSCRUB project aimed to reduce forest fire risks by removing flammable scrub biomass in a sustainable manner and converting it to solid biofuel. New methods would be developed for harvesting and processing the biofuel. Findings from four pilot sites in Castilla-Leon and Galicia would be compared to help identify optimal approaches for reducing forest fire risks. Conclusions would be widely disseminated in order to encourage replication of the good practice techniques.

Specific objectives included:

  • Sustainable harvesting of 2 000 tonnes of locally sourced biomass; demonstration of technical and economic feasibility of the supply chain of shrub biomass based on mechanised harvesting methods in four different locations;
  • Determination of quality parameters of shrub biomass (energy-chemical characterisation of 120 samples and production of eight types of standardised quality pellets);
  • Definition of operational patterns for biomass combustion in order to reach the most restrictive emission thresholds currently in force in Europe; and
  • Establishment of management guidelines and policy documents for discussion by the main stakeholders and the creation of a network of projects that have similar goals but focus on different geographical areas.

  • RESULTS

    The LIFE ENERBIOSCRUB project harvested fresh biomass in all the selected plots weighing a total of 1 629 tonnes, less than the 2 000 tonnes foreseen, from around 137 hectares. This biomass was assessed and combustion tests performed. The project also collected data at the sites for an environmental and a socio-economic impact assessment.

    It demonstrated that the use of shrub biomass helps reduce dependency on fossil fuels in line with the EU Directive on Energy Efficiency. It moreover demonstrated a cost-effective approach to reducing the amount of combustible matter available in shrub land and therefore the risk of forest fires. The project approach also represents a viable means of reinvigorating rural populations and activities.

    The project calculated that 1 500 tonnes of biomass yields emissions of around 0.0117 kgCO2 per kWh, a saving of around 96% on light fuel oil. Moreover, scrubland has a high potential as a source of biofuel in Spain. Around 3.75 million tonnes of biomass could be harvested annually from just 2% of Spain?s scrubland (375 000 ha). This could substitute over 1.5 million tonnes of fossil fuel per year, reducing GHG emissions by 4.6 million tonnes of CO2, as well as having a positive economic impact.

    However, increasing the efficiency of the methodology remains a challenge. The beneficiaries must upgrade the harvesting machinery and develop a way of marketing the biofuels at a reasonable cost. They must also find sufficiently boilers that allow this type of biofuel to be used in local residences.

    Last but not least, the demonstrative value of the project is high given that most of the actions were carried out on full scale involving all stakeholders.

    Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report (see "Read more" section).

    ADMINISTRATIVE DATA


    Reference: LIFE13 ENV/ES/000660
    Acronym: LIFE ENERBIOSCRUB
    Start Date: 01/06/2014
    End Date: 31/12/2017
    Total Budget: 1,889,758 €
    EU Contribution: 939,279 €
    Project Location:

    CONTACT DETAILS


    Coordinating Beneficiary: CENTRO DE INVESTIGACIONES ENERGTICAS, MEDIOAMBIENTALES Y TECNOLGICAS
    Legal Status: PAT
    Address: AVDA. COMPLUTENSE, 40, 28040, MADRID, España
    Contact Person: LUIS SAÚL ESTEBAN PASCUAL
    Email: luis.esteban@ciemat.es
    Tel: 34975281013
    Website: http://www.ciemat.es


    LIFE Project Map

    ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES ADDRESSED

    THEMES

    • Supply
    • Forests
    • Forest management
    • Natural risks (Flood - Forest fire - Landslide)
    • Natural resources and ecosystems
    • Renewable energies

    KEYWORDS

    • forest fire
    • emission reduction
    • forestry
    • greenhouse gas
    • forest management
    • biomass energy

    TARGET EU LEGISLATION

    • Directive 2009/28 - Promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources (23.04.2009)

    BENEFICIARIES

    Name Type
    CENTRO DE INVESTIGACIONES ENERGTICAS, MEDIOAMBIENTALES Y TECNOLGICAS Coordinator
    AVEBIOM(ASOCIACIÓN ESPAÑOLA DE VALORIZACIÓN ENERGÉTICA DE LA BIOMASA), Spain Participant
    AGRESTA(AGRESTA S.Coop.), Spain Participant
    INIA(INSTITUTO NACIONAL DE INVESTIGACIÓN Y TECNOLOGÍA AGRARIA Y ALIMENTARIA), Spain Participant
    AYTOFABERO(AYUNTAMIENTO DE FABERO), Spain Participant
    MLN(MONTES DE LAS NAVAS SA), Spain Participant
    TRAGSA(EMPRESA DE TRANSFORMACIÓN AGRARIA, S.A. (TRAGSA)), Spain Participant
    GESTAMPBIO(GESTAMP BIOMASS S.L.), Spain Participant
    BIOMASAFOR(BIOMASA FORESTAL, S.L.), Spain Participant

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