The results are in…
Short Rotation Woody Crops are a viable source of biomass for co-generation applications. Alberta based research & development is establishing the viability within Alberta. Recent and current studies verify this conclusion.
From 2006 to early 2011, researchers at the Canadian Wood Fibre Centre of the Canadian Forest Service (CFS), Natural Resources Canada, conducted R&D into establishing Short Rotation Woody Crop (e.g., willow and poplar) agroforestry plantations, augmented with treated effluent, under Alberta’s climate, soil and water conditions.
The intent of these projects is to evaluate the efficiency and environmental implications of integrating waste disposal with wood fibre production, i.e., willow for biomass production or fast-growing poplar. The sites, dubbed Sustainable Wood Energy Plantations (SWEP), were established at the towns of Whitecourt and Beaverlodge, the hamlets of Ohaton (Camrose County) and Clairmont (near Grande Prairie) and in collaboration with the City of Edmonton. An agreement was also reached with Sturgeon County to establish a sixth site at Villeneuve. SWEP plantations test the growth and performance of willow and poplar varieties under varying conditions, including: irrigated vs. non-irrigated, and with or without the application of nutrient-rich biosolids (Whitecourt, Keoma.)
|Harvesting the Willow Plantation at Whitecourt
The plantations are environmentally friendly, an economical source of feedstock for local bioenergy production and make productive use of marginal lands. Use of treated wastewater for plantation irrigation is a desirable environmental alternative to surface water discharge and reduces community wastewater processing costs.
The plantations support rural sustainable development by yielding wood fibre of known attributes for forestry applications and/or use in local carbon-neutral bioenergy conversion facilities (e.g., wood-fired boilers), thereby reducing local costs and dependence on fossil fuels. To maintain the momentum of the project and link together the sites established across Alberta, CFS researchers at the Canadian Wood Fibre Centre teamed up with Grande Prairie Regional College, professors at the University of Alberta and industry to establish the Alberta Rural Organic Waste to Resources Network (AROWRN).
AROWRN serves as a means of networking the existing sites into one robust working group to: