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IBERDROLA RENOVABLES is heading the Lignocrop project, which, with a budget of nearly €3 million, is the most advanced initiative undertaken anywhere in the world to date for improving the management and production of energy crops.
The company, the world leader in renewable energy(*), is to develop this initiative with other entities, including the Forest Research Centre (CIFOR-INIA), the Valencian Institute for Agricultural Research (IVIA) and the University of Castilla La Mancha (UCLM).
The project is subsidised by the Ministry of Science and Innovation through the Spanish Plan to Stimulate the Economy (Plan E), under which the Government hopes to promote and support major scientific and industrial initiatives.
Lignocrop is the first project to carry out a study of ways to optimise the whole logistics chain for these crops: genetic selection of crops, production of the plant in the laboratory, growing plants in the most suitable locations, harvesting and preparation, processing of the biomass and delivery to the power station.
IBERDROLA RENOVABLES will contract leading agricultural and forestry companies to carry out field work.
Energy crops are one of the main options for providing raw material to generate power from biomass plants in the future. Their stable and uniform nature means they could become the main source of supply for facilities of this kind, solving the supply problems they experience at present.
Lignocrop will focus its study on woody tree species such as the willow, poplar, false acacia, and paulownia. As well as generating clean energy, plantations of these trees assist in the recovery of abandoned land and in creating employment in rural areas.
They do not require land of the same quality as traditional agriculture and can therefore occupy areas which have not been exploited before. The development of energy crops is normally accompanied by a parallel advance in the industry of transforming biomass into fuel, thereby stimulating the biomass sector as a whole.
An opportunity for biomass
IBERDROLA RENOVABLES hopes this initiative will enable it to occupy a leading position in the use of energy crops, laying the foundations for the future development of this market. Moreover, the advances made will facilitate the planned use of biomass as an energy resource.
Last summer the company started operations at its first biomass power station in Corduente (Guadalajara), the first in Spain to produce energy exclusively from the biomass obtained from clearing woodland.
As well as generating power, the plant will contribute to preventing fires and pests as around 26,000 tonnes of forest waste per year will be cleared and pruned from the surrounding woodland.
IBERDROLA RENOVABLES, with operations in 23 countries, is the world leader(*) in its sector in both installed capacity (with nearly 11,300 MW at the close of the first quarter of 2010) and power output (over 6,812 million kWh).
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