Abstract

The demand for wood for energy production in Ireland is predicted to double from 1.5 millionm3 over bark (OB) in 2011 to 3 millionm3 OB by 2020. There is a large potential for additional biomass recovery for energetic purposes from both thinning forest stands and by harvesting of tops and branches, and stumps. This study builds on research within the wood-for-energy concept in Ireland by analysing the energy requirements and greenhouse gas emissions associated with thinning, residue bundling and stump removal for energy purposes. To date there have been no studies on harvesting of residues and stumps in terms of energy balances and greenhouse gas emissions across the life cycle in Ireland. The results of the analysis on wood energy supply chains highlights transport as the most energy and greenhouse gas emissions intensive step in the life cycle. This finding illustrates importance of localised production and use of forest biomass. Production of wood chip, and shredded bundles and stumps, compares favourably with both other sources of biomass in Ireland and fossil fuels.

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