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  • Brazil invests in forestry for “wood energy”

    2009 - 11.30

    Following on from the RISI report  “Bio energy plantations are the hottest story in Brazil”  article,   looking back ,  wood historically was actually the main source of energy in Brazil, until the mid-twentieth century,  providing more than 80% of its energy demands.  So this news about  managed plantation forestry is in reality a re launch of a former thriving and proven industry.

    Although wood is still is a major source of energy, with approximately 11.6% of the market, the use of wood for energy had actually fallen from 300 million cubic metres in 1970 to 170 million cubic metres in 1997. However, in recent years there has been a reversal of this trend, reaching 220 million cubic metres in 2005.

    The current industrial demand for wood for energy is already greater than supply. The steel industry, the largest consumer of wood for energy, uses only one third of its energy from  charcoal and two thirds  from coal. What is more, 55% of the charcoal consumed in the industrial sector has its origin in the native forest, which is obviously a major concern as regards the environmental effects. The lack of wood supply from planted forests has restricted the growth of the industry which has previously been dependent on this raw material. The result has been a greater pressure still on natural forests. Added to this the increasing consumption of wood for energy generation sectors in agribusiness located in rural areas, drying grain, tea or tobacco, the production of bricks and ceramic industry, in almost all regions of Brazil wood energy demand is soaring.

    Faced with this need to significantly increase the supply of wood from plantation forests, it is vital to refine the productivity techniques within the forestry plantations via increased growth hybrids, improved quality of crop and improved sustainability systems which are carbon neutral. Plantations for energy particularly in Brazil have distinct advantages:

    1) Brazil has climatic conditions that allows high productivity in a short time compared with other countries

    2) The plantations are a renewable source of raw material,

    3) The forestry has a zero balance for greenhouse gases,

    To increase the use of fuelwood as a source of energy on a large scale in Brazil there are several challenges.

    1) Silvicultural training for expansion of forest plantations with genetic material quality, especially in regions with no tradition in the field of wood energy production.

    2) Technological innovations related to traditional uses of wood energy

    3) Taking derivatives of high added value from forest biomass

    4) Public policies that encourage the use and generation of conversion technologies.

    With its recognized expertise in biomass production, the availability of land, mainly in degraded pastures, its historic tradition in bio-energy, Brazil is at the cutting edge of energy generation via the use of biomass, especially from forestry plantations.

    The Timber Investment Blog is sponsored by Greenwood Management. For more information on investing in Forestry please click here

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