The volume of forest chips used in heat and power production currently stands at approximately 8 million cubic metres per year. The use of forest chips is expected to grow in the future.
Although the trend has been quite different in recent years, Perttu Anttila, Principal Research Scientist at the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), thinks it possible that this will change in the future. One reason is that the renewability and domestic origin of forest chips dovetails with the objectives of the climate and energy strategy.
According to Anttila, we are in good position to increase the use of wood chips. At the moment, for example, branches, tree tops and stumps are not harvested to the full in all sites where it would be sustainably possible.
“A considerable amount of forest industry by-products are used in heating and electricity production, but in the future some of these could be steered to the production of transport biofuels. This means that the demand for forest chips may grow,” Anttila envisions.
Luke has developed a tool to assess the sufficiency of forest chips. Through calculations, it is possible to establish whereabouts in Finland competition for wood chips is most intense and where there is room for new investments.
It is now possible to calculate the regional supply and demand ratio for forest chips for the needs of customers such as the forest and energy industry more easily than before.
The most recent results indicate that the greatest potential for increasing the use of wood chips currently lies in eastern and northern Finland.
According to estimates extending to 2030, the volume of tree tops and stumps should be sufficient for forest chip production throughout the country. With respect to small-sized trees, supply would be highest in eastern and northern Finland. Upon realisation, planned investments might, however, change the situation locally.
Text: Maarit Perkonoja, Luke
Photo on top of the page: Erkki Oksanen, Luke.
Published in Finnish in Maaseudun Tulevaisuus 23 of January 2017.