Kiwis, universally lauded for their beautiful homeland, unhealthy amount of interest in adrenaline-fuelled sports and rugby and inability to pronounce fish and chips without it coming out as “fush and chups”, have been having a bit of a think about their future energy needs.
You’d think anywhere with four times as many sheep as people would have considered some crazy science in order to turn lamb into fuel, but no, forests are the way to go, say the Kiwis.
Scion, a New Zealand government research body, says that if the Kiwis start planting energy forests now, they can have all the energy they want for fuel and heat from biofuels via managed harvesting and replanting – and all that without impacting agriculture.
Biomass can make a significant contribution to New Zealand’s future energy supply without compromising arable or high quality pastoral land. Rather, the key is to utilise marginal lands, which are often erodable hillcountry, making best use of available resources.” […]
“It is possible for New Zealand to be self-sufficient in terms of liquid fuels by using sustainable managed forests, while having low impact on domestic and export food production. Along with the energy will come ancillary benefits of forests including flood mitigation, improved water quality, erosion control and carbon sequestration.”
Dr Richardson says purpose-grown energy forests of short-, medium- and long-rotation could be established using only 37% of the potentially available 8.7 million hectares of medium- and low-quality grazing land available in New Zealand.
Establishing the required forest resource will take around 25 years, at an estimated cost of around $2-3 billion a year.