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Bioenergy options for New Zealand: key findings from five studies

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Abstract

Studies on bioenergy opportunities available to New Zealand found wood from plantation forests is the largest biomass resource and the one with most potential to expand. The use of municipal solid wastes and industrial effluents for energy gave significant environmental benefits, but makes a small contribution to total energy demand. The potential of plantation forests to create a carbon store, garner environmental benefits, and create lumber and energy supplies are substantial. After considering several aspects, including domestic energy supply and demand, key to maximizing these benefits for New Zealand is the development of biomass to liquid fuels conversion technologies, focused on wood to drop-in liquid fuels. Establishment of large-scale woody biomass resources producing multiple products including energy could mitigate risks associated with other bioenergy options by

  • Being based on an existing industry;
  • Not impacting exports from arable and high-value pastoral land;
  • Acting as significant long-term energy store;
  • Providing carbon sequestration during establishment and growingphases and additional carbon stocks from new forest area;
  • Providing environmental services, stabilizing erosion prone land, provid-ing low-input (fertilizer, pesticides) land use, and improving waterquality;
  • Producing sustainable coproducts, traditional timber products, and high-value biomaterials and chemicals;
  • Providing the forest industry with a significant alternative market for low-value log products;
  • Stimulating regional development;
  • Providing year round biomass supply.

The opportunity to substitute fossil fuels with domestically produced biofuels could bring long-term economic and environmental benefits to the country through better utilizing New Zealand's natural capital.

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