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Biomass from fruit trees for combined energy and food production

Winzer, Felix, Kraska, Thorsten, Elsenberger, Carolin, Kötter, Theo, Pude, Ralf
Biomass and bioenergy 2017 v.107 pp. 279-286
apples, biomass production, combustion, energy, energy content, food production, longevity, oils, orchards, pears, plums, renewable energy sources, wood, wood residues, Germany
In the EU-28, the annual fruit tree production is about 1.29 million ha. In Germany pome and stone fruit are cultivated on 44,744 ha (apples 31,334 ha, 3855 ha plums, 1925 ha pears). This generates not only food, but also abundant amounts of biomass when orchards are cleared at the end of their life span. While the pruning wood from fruit trees is already partly utilized, clearance wood has not been studied in detail for its energetic potential for direct combustion. The main aim was to evaluate the woody residues potential from a fruit tree production area of 676 ha and if that were suitable for direct combustion in a regional context. The mean biomass yield of clearance wood from fruit orchards in the study is 10.6 Mg*ha−1, with a theoretical energy content of 53,172 kWh*ha−1. With a total annual biomass yield of 357 Mg in the studied area, an oil equivalent of over 150,000 L could be substituted each year by clearance wood from fruit orchards. Utilization of clearance wood as an abundant biomass source is a promising concept for a sustainable energy supply on a local to regional scale and without interfering in food production or causing land allocation issues.