Posted by admin | Filed under Eucalypus Information
Did you know that the United States contributes 22 percent to the world’s carbon emissions even though the country houses just 5 percent of the world’s population? Or that 20 to 25 percent of carbon emissions globally result from deforestation or land use change?
With statistics like these, it’s no surprise that the U.S. Department of Energy is working to reduce the country’s reliance on fossil fuels and promote the use of renewable energies such as biomass, which is plant materials that can be used for fuel. According to the Department of Energy, biomass provides our country with a major opportunity to generate power from both renewable and sustainable sources like plants and trees. Given this potential, we need strong, fast growing trees for biomass production such as purpose grown hardwood trees, which are specifically planted to be harvested for wood, fiber and energy production. We need Eucalyptus to ensure that our future energy supply is secure and that we have a renewable source to meet our own regional energy needs, while lessening our nation’s dependence on foreign energy sources.
As the human population grows, the need for renewable sources of wood, fiber and energy becomes important to meet the needs of society. Planting trees that can address these needs are one of the solutions that also helps enable the conservation of our natural resources.
Why do we need a purpose grown hardwood tree?
Tree species can be grouped into hardwoods and softwoods. Hardwood trees typically lose their leaves in the winter and softwood trees do not. Hardwood trees also have several wood characteristics that make them ideal species for some paper and energy products. For example, hardwoods are used for most writing papers, envelopes or whenever a smooth printing surface is required. In addition, hardwoods have chemical properties that make them well suited for some cellulosic ethanol conversion processes.
Hardwood forests occur naturally in many environments. In the southeastern United States, natural hardwood forests typically inhabit low lying, wet sites not well suited to intensive management. In contrast, purpose grown hardwoods are planted trees of a selected species and variety that provide desirable growth and wood properties to the land owner. In addition, purpose grown hardwoods are planted on more upland sites traditionally used for forest management or agriculture.
Selecting the perfect short rotation woody crop for purpose grown biomass and bioenergy requires that a tree meet some specific criteria:
- It must be able to adapt to a variety of sites
- It must grow fast and be economically viable
- It must yield an end product that minimizes waste in the production process
- It needs to be resistant to freeze, drought, diseases and pests
Finding the perfect hardwood species that could be purpose grown at an economical rate, starts with research and collaboration. This is why the United States pulp and paper industries, in cooperation with federal and state governments and universities, have spent millions of dollars and well over 50 years of research to identify economically viable hardwood species, including Eucalyptus, for the southeastern United States.
What makes Eucalyptus the right choice?
Eucalyptus is among the fastest growing hardwood trees in the world, is grown in more than 90 countries and represents 8 percent of all planted forests. A large part of the global supply is concentrated in Brazil, with approximately 3.5 million hectares (a little over 8.5 million acres) in plantations. In 2003, global Eucalyptus pulp demand was 8 million tons and it represented 40 percent of the world’s hardwood pulp market.
Eucalyptus remains the top choice for wood, fiber and energy. The benefits of this biomass crop are numerous:
- Eucalyptus is the world’s most widely planted hardwood species
- Eucalyptus is prized globally for excellence in paper and energy production
- Eucalyptus grows faster than other hardwood species
- Eucalyptus will grow on upland landscapes, reducing pressure on environmentally sensitive areas
- Eucalyptus grows commercially with similar inputs to Pine
- Eucalyptus produces feedstock for fiber and energy in short rotations
The U.S. Department of Energy has identified Eucalyptus as a potentially viable option for biomass. In fact, this important species was singled out by the Department of Energy because of “its implications for helping wean the nation’s dependence on fossil fuel”. As such, the Federal government is currently spending millions of dollars to map the DNA sequence of the Eucalyptus.
The Federal government has stated “the biomass production and carbon sequestration capacities of eucalyptus trees match the Department of Energy’s and the nation’s interests in alternative energy production and global carbon cycling”. Eucalyptus is also at the center of the United States’ entire bioenergy strategy – as the United States works towards the “30×30” goal for a 30 percent replacement of United States petroleum consumption with biofuels by 2030 – (http://30×30workshop.biomass.govtools.us/) with short rotation woody biomass crops accounting for an estimated 377 million dry tons of the required 1.37 billion dry tons biomass requirement, according to the “Billion Ton Report” published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Energy in April 2005.
This fast growing tree is ideal for many uses, but may help provide a solution to America’s energy crisis, as biomass and bioenergy projects offer sustainable solutions to producing energy for our country while ensuring that our planet and forests remain healthy and continue to thrive for generations to come.
Why use trees for biomass and bioenergy development?
In order to slow climate change and reduce our country’s dependence on foreign oil by 30 percent by 2030, we must learn how to use regional resources for bioenergy and biomass in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way.
There is no single solution to meet our energy requirements. Solar, wind, nuclear, hydroelectric, waste-to-energy, and ethanol are all part of the solution, as is a conscientious reduction of individual use of energy and a dedication to doing the right thing for our environment.
Crops, plants and trees absolutely play a sizable role in this solution. Different regions in the U.S. have unique geographic and climate conditions that make them ideal places for growing specific types of crops, plants and trees that can later be used for energy production. This means that if we plant these crops in the right places, we can produce stronger, faster-growing crops that can be used to quickly help meet our country’s energy needs. For example, in the southeastern United States, it is highly likely that some of these areas will be suitable growing environments for Eucalyptus (e.g. Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, Florida).
There are many benefits of using trees such as Eucalyptus in biomass and bioenergy production:
- Trees like Eucalyptus can be harvested year-round and provide a living inventory of available biomass, which reduces storage and inventory holding costs along with minimal shrinkage and degradation losses.
- Because much of the infrastructure already exists, trees will require fewer capital investments to harvest and transport, and costs can be spread throughout the year rather than concentrated in a short seasonal harvest period.
- Harvesting trees will only happen every few years, reducing the environmental impact created by disturbances at harvest and planting.
- While a comparable total acreage may be needed, with trees only a fraction of that total would be planted or harvested in any given year, compared to harvesting the same footprint each year for an annual crop.
- Trees offer the landowner flexibility relative to other energy crops, both in terms of choice of when to harvest, and the multiple end use pathways including wood, fiber and energy.