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10/16/2008, Castellet

Environmental experts make a stand for biomass as a source of energy for the future

The development of thermal and electrical applications based on biomass is greatly inferior to the surplus forestry potential in Catalonia

During the conference on the new uses of biomass, organised today at Castellet Castle, the headquarters of the fundació abertis, environmental experts coincided in defining it as the source of energy for the future, taking into account the possibilities for obtaining it and applying it, compared to the more traditional sources of energy such as fossil fuels and electricity. They also highlighted that the development of thermal and electrical applications based on forest biomass is greatly inferior to the surplus forestry potential in Catalonia.

The meeting enjoyed the intervention of the director general for the Environment of the Ministry of the Environment and Housing of the Generalitat of Catalonia, Núria Buenaventura; the vice president of the Forestry Consortium of Catalonia, Rosendo Castelló; the doctor in Environmental Sciences and member of the Scientific Committee of the fundació abertis, Martí Boada; the director of the Environmental Institute of the University of Girona, Miquel Rigola; the dean of the Faculty of Sciences of the Autonomous University of Barcelona and member of the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology (ICTA), Jordi Bartrolí and the director of the fundació abertis, Sergi Loughney.

The fundació abertis has promoted two studies on biomass as a source of raw materials and energy and on the sustainable use of Mediterranean forests, carried out by researchers at the Autonomous University of Barcelona and at the University of Girona. The conference, which was held as a result of these two studies, took place in Castellet Castle, in the municipality of Castellet i la Gornal (Alt Penedès).

Conclusions of the conference “New Uses for Biomass”

-The transformation of biomass has three main applications: fuel to generate electricity and/or heat for domestic and industrial consumption; biofuel for transport and raw material for obtaining products of chemical interest in highly diverse applications.

-The world of the Catalan forest is currently characterised by the loss of markets and economic feasibility, the disappearance of a great number of industries, the opening of wood markets and the lack of a model aimed at improving the competitiveness of the sector.

-The development of thermal and electrical applications based on forest biomass is greatly inferior to the surplus forestry potential of Catalonia, particularly in the current situation of the continuous increase of prices of fossil fuels and of electricity.

-Today, forest energy crops are already an alternative to the traditional crops in many areas of Catalonia and could be a meeting point between silviculture and farming.

-Some barriers that create an obstacle to this trend are the disintegration of thermal consumption, the convenience of fossil fuels, the difficulty and the cost of supplying biomass and the lack of experience in this field, among others.

-Technologies such as the gasification and pyrolysis of biomass, despite still being in the industrial development phase, open up a whole range of possibilities for obtaining products to be developed, with regard to their conversion to biomass.

-The new challenge of green chemistry, in which lignocellulosic materials play an important role by being a source of renewable products, is to advance towards a design philosophy based on new kinds of processes and products.

-Two main kinds of development of biomass can be seen in the context of green chemistry.  On the one hand, biorefineries that maximise the value of lignocellulosic biomass as a raw material for producing liquid biofuels, chemical products and energy. And, on the other hand, the cultivation of specific plant species that directly supply substances of chemical structure and properties close to the needs of the industrial sectors.

-There is a need seen to find a space for debating in which all the members of the sector can dialogue and constitute a network between all the agents involved (owners, forestry companies, administrations, research centres, industry, users, ecologists and so on) in order to integrate and conciliate the demands for current uses and well as the new uses of biomass.

-The creation of the Forestry Museum of Catalonia in Sant Celoni represents an opportunity to formalise this meeting place and to be a focus for dissemination and awareness creation among the general public about the new uses of biomass.

About the Fundació Abertis

Since 1999, the fundació abertis has been dedicated to promoting research into the impact of the large infrastructures on the territory, particularly on the economy, demography and the environment. For the foundation, research is a necessary preliminary stage to be able to act to improve our surroundings.

The foundation periodically organises conferences to present the main conclusions of the research that is being carried out and to debate on matters of social interest, such as the management of historic heritage, highway anthropology, ethical values and challenges of a social nature. It also develops a far-reaching Programme of Highway Safety to create social awareness.

The castle has been granted the UNE 14.001:2004 certification, which includes the introduction of the Environmental Management System (SGA), which ensures that it complies with all current environmental legislation, as well as identifying, controlling and minimising the negative effects that the activities undertaken in the castle could cause on the surroundings.


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