The potential for Eucalyptus as a wood fuel in the UK

Leslie, Andrew, Mencuccini, Maurizio and Perks, Mike P. (2012) The potential for Eucalyptus as a wood fuel in the UK. Applied Energy, 89 (1). pp. 176-182.

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Considerable potential exists in the UK for utilising woody biomass, grown under short rotation forestry management systems, to produce electricity or heat. There are benefits to using biomass in generating heat and power the main environmental benefit being from substituting for fossil fuel combustion and consequent carbon emissions. Woody biomass production in short rotation forestry involves growing single stemmed trees rather than coppice over rotations of between 10 and 15 years. Eucalypts are particularly suited to such biomass production as they exhibit relatively high wood density, have suitable chemical characteristics, exhibit low moisture content and can be easily harvested all year around using conventional machinery if single-stemmed growth form is maintained. The UK has a climate that is not well suited to the majority of eucalypts. However, there is a small number of eucalypt species that can withstand the stresses caused by frozen ground and desiccating winds or sub-zero temperatures that can occur. These species are from more southern latitudes and high altitude areas of Australia. However, even the most cold resistant species can be damaged by UK winter climate extremes and therefore careful matching of species to site environmental constraints is critical. Informed decision making is made problematic by the small area and limited distribution of current planting, although it is clear that particularly cold areas and for most species, sites with poor drainage should be generally avoided. This article provides a discussion of the potential of, and constraints to, using eucalypts for biomass in the UK and provides a tentative list of recommended species, their potential growth rates and their advantages and disadvantages.

Highlights: Eucalyptus in plantations has potential in the UK as a source of woody biomass. Fast early growth enables high productivity over short rotations. Unseasonal frosts and unusually cold winters pose a risk. It is not clear whether climate change will benefit or hinder use of eucalypts for biomass in the UK.

Item Type: Article
Journal or Publication Title: Applied Energy
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0306-2619
Departments: Faculty of Health and Science > Science, Natural Resources and Outdoor Studies > Forestry, Conservation & Applied Science
Depositing User: Anna Lupton
Date Deposited: 11 Jan 2018 12:46
Last Modified: 19 Jan 2018 15:42


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