ComBIO, a possible solution to finding a right balance whether energy wood and/or pulpwood should be harvested in young forests?

Metla together with University of Eastern Finland have developed decision support systems to balance the energy use and industrial use of wood from young thinning stands. The team lead by researcher Karri Pasanen (Metla) published a paper in International Journal of Forest Engineering (DOI:10.1080/14942119.2014.903614) with topic of: “Using the ComBio decision support system to assess whether energy wood and/or pulpwood should be harvested in young forests”

The operational environment of forest-chip procurement in Finland is challenging, because increasing production is raising the costs due to the limited availability of biomass. Integrated harvesting of industrial roundwood and energy wood is one solution to lower the costs of biomass procurement from young forest stands. In addition, integration creates flexibility for operations management because the procurement can be adjusted to meet the current demand for wood biomass.

The recovery options of young forest thinning consist of pure industrial roundwood, pure energy wood, and integrated harvesting of both industrial roundwood and energy wood. However, without calculation tools, the outcomes of the alternative recovery options are difficult to see before operations have been carried out, because operational variables such as bucking diameter and bolt length have a direct influence on the accumulation of roundwood and energy wood.

Picture 1 17-04-2014

Picture 1. Young forest thinning in Finland. Photo taken by Juha Laitila, Metla

Metla’s and UEF’s article presents the ComBio decision support system, which can be used to produce information considering biomass recovery options, compare these options, and support selection among them. ComBio’s structure, input data, model estimation procedure, and methods for comparison and decision support are introduced. Finally, a demonstration of ComBio is carried out with sample forest data.

The ComBio decision support tool can be used in practical decision-making concerning forest energy harvesting, in operations planning, and in education. For instance, through the interactive use of the tool, the forest energy expert and the forest owner can support their negotiation considering the alternative treatment options. A general task is to find a solution which attains both the buyer’s and the seller’s goals; that is why decision criteria serving both parties have been included into ComBio. At the same time, both the forest owner and the expert user can learn more about the forest stand production possibilities and how the change of operational variables influences the outcomes of harvesting. Moreover, through interactive visualization, users are able to get information on how different recovery options perform in relation to their preferences in decision criteria.

Picture 2 17-04-2014

Picture 2. Small-sized thinning wood for industrial purposes and for energy wood. Photo taken by Juha Laitila, Metla

You can find the article from publisher’s page (Taylor & Francis: International Journal of Forest Engineering) or contact straight to main author if you are interested to get more information.

In BioPAD project, Work Package 3 and Metla will work with different issues related to supply chain of biomasses. As an output, BioPAD will publish a BISCUIT (Bioenergy Supply Chain Unique Integrated Tool) which explains the different steps and aspects of biomass supply chains from wood, energy crops and other biomass sources.


About biopadblog

Developing a local bioenergy market can provide significant opportunities for rural and remote areas, by improving security of energy supply, contributing to a reduction in CO2 emissions and stimulating the local economy by creating jobs and keeping payments for energy within the local community. A new project, BioPAD (Bioenergy Proliferation and Deployment), which targets the Northern Periphery of Europe, aims to ensure that bioenergy becomes more widely used and that awareness of the opportunities it provides are increased. The project will help the development of bioenergy and improve our understanding of the links between supply and demand by looking at supply chains for a variety of bioenergy fuels and different ways of converting these fuels into sustainable energy. Understanding the supply chains and the ways bioenergy moves from fuel source to energy provision will help the establishment of robust and efficient supply services which can match local demand. BioPAD is led by the Western Development Commission (Ireland) and is funded under the ERDF Interreg IVB Northern Periphery Programme (NPP)
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