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The sustainability of biomass energy acquisition by households in urbanizing communities in Northeast Thailand

Nansaior, A., Patanothai, A., Rambo, A.T., Simaraks, S.
Biomass and bioenergy 2013 v.52 pp. 113-121
Eucalyptus, biofuels, biomass, bunds, business enterprises, energy, farming systems, household expenditure, households, income, paddies, planting, public lands, purchasing, trees, urbanization, wood, Thailand
The continuing importance of biomass as a source of household energy has raised the question of whether local supply would be sufficient to meet demand. This study examined the above question. A total of 288 households in three communities with different degrees of urbanization in Khon Kaen province in Northeast Thailand were interviewed and observed for their uses of different types of energy and the ways by which biomass were acquired. The results showed that the vast majority of households in the rural and suburban communities (89.0 and 81.3%, respectively) and about half (53.3%) of urban households obtained all their biomass fuel by collecting it. Most agricultural and irregular income households relied more on collecting, mainly from their own land supplemented by public land, whereas business owner and regular income households relied more on purchasing to obtain their biomass energy supplies. On average, a rural household consumed 20.4 GJ y−1 of biomass energy while a suburban household used 18.5 GJ y−1, representing the energy value of 2362 and 2062 kg of wood, respectively. These demands could be sustainably met by the annual growth increment of 68 and 59 Eucalyptus trees for a rural and a suburban household, respectively. These could be achieved by planting trees in a small area or in a line on the paddy bunds or property boundary lines. It is, thus, possible for most rural and some suburban households to be self-sufficient in biomass energy for household consumption by integration of trees into their farming systems.