|In July and August of this year, the Croatian foresters and wood technologists had the opportunity to visit two very important trade fairs: “Holzmesse”, a forestry – wood technology fair in Klagenfurt, and “Interforst”, an international forestry fair in Munich (Messe Munich). Those who attended these events claim that both were dedicated to the procurement and use of forest biomass and woody debris from the wood processing industry for the production of thermal and electrical energy. Within the Fifth Croatian Biomass Days, there will be a Croatian-Austrian economic symposium in Našice on September 3, 2010, focusing on the topic “Biomass (electric and thermal energy), biogas and biofuels”. The papers presented at the symposium will be grouped into the following topics: Biofuels in Croatia, The Austrian Experience, Models of Project Financing and Enhancement in the Republic of Croatia. There will also be specialist lectures related to cogeneration plants and to new knowledge of biofuels in terms of legal regulations, markets and future strategies in Germany.|
An insight into what the Croatian Forestry Association (CFA), the company Hrvatske Šume, the Government of the Republic of Croatia and the competent Ministry have undertaken in connection with the very topical issue of bioenergy can be obtained from the reports of the Fourth Croatian Biomass Days and of previous such events, (which we regularly publish in the Forestry Journal), as well as from the reports on bioenergy-related activities of the Croatian Forestry Association (CFA). These issues are regularly discussed at Management Board meetings, at annual conferences or within the CFA’s section established in 2005 under the name The Croatian Biomass Association (a member of the European Biomass Association). A framework has been provided for bioenergy use, stimuli have been put forth, the inclusion (sale) of biomass-based electrical energy into the electro-energy system has been legally regulated, pellet plants have been launched, cogeneration system projects have been drawn up and many other activities have been initiated. However, what we want to know is this: what role does forestry play here? Where is biomass as an available energy resource, whose structure and quantity have been discussed at a scientific symposium “Agriculture and Forestry as Producers of Renewable Energy Sources” organized by the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, or at a symposium entitled “Biological-Ecological Energy Characteristics of Amorpha in Croatia” organized by the Croatian Forestry Institute, Faculty of Forestry, the company Hrvatske Šume and the Croatian Chamber of Forestry and Wood Technology Engineers? Biomass from the realistically possible allowable cut, which has so far remained in the forest, and more vigorous silvicultural activities of stand cleaning, thinning and regeneration, which are becoming profitable in the form of new products and which are achieving a good market price, would provide biomass potentials of up to 4.5 million tons annually, an equivalent of 2.2 million tons of oil (which we import). From the specialist, forestry aspect, it goes without saying that these profitable activities, which are often lacking due to a lack of financial means, would substantially increase the quality of the forest, enhance the value of its non-commercial functions and ensure sustainability. Exceptfor the two plants in Gospić and Ogulin owned by the company Hrvatske Šume, which produce thermal energy for their own needs and for a smaller circle of other consumers, the majority of wood chips are soldmainly to foreign buyers via Hrvatske Šume’s daughter company “Biomasa”. Wood chips are mostly produced from fuelwood, an assortment which has already found its place on the market, instead from so-called “waste”, which continues to remain in the forest, not to mention biomass obtained from increased silvicultural activities. For example, the Austrian state forests have in their ownership 30 cogeneration system and they sell KWh as a finished product instead of as raw material. The wood industry of Gorski Kotar has been among the first to recognize the need for building pellet plants (Mrkopalj, Gerovo, Delnice); however, they, just as those in Spačva, Perušić and elsewhere, generally export their product. It is our opinion that the energy sector development strategy of the Republic of Croatia up to 2020 sets down too many restrictions to biomass use. We import fossil fuels, but we either produce too little or export these resources which could otherwise satisfy a large share of our own needs or fulfil our international commitments. Namely, Croatia is a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol and the Gradac Declaration recommendations, which unequivocally commit us to reducing greenhouse gasses. Finally, to answer the question from the headline: no, we have not yet made use of our possibilities. And yes, just like in everything else, we are making very sluggish progress in biomass use.
Professor Emeritus Branimir Prpić, Ph.D.