Germany: Boom in Timber market caused by biofuel demand

Germany is currently experiencing a boom in the timber market. The high demand for timber can mainly be attributed to bio-energy generators which are receiving high garantied income through the renewable energy act. According to the act, electricity generated from biomass and fed into the grid system is being rewarded with between 7.7 and 11.67 Euro Cent per KW/hour depending on the total capacity the facility. A bonus of 2.6 Euro Cent comes on top of that when timber as a re-growing resource is used.  This made it highly attractive to invest in timber burning power stations in recent years. In addition, wood pellet heating systems became attractive to German home owners as an alternative to expensive oil and gas heating systems. Due to the high growth in the biomass sector, this resource became scarcer recently. Biomass facilities burn fresh timber, matured timber as well as organic waste like leaves.  As a consequence, even tree parts that weren’t used before for burning such like tree root systems, bark and branches are now considered for energy generation with considerable consequences as these parts are not only valuable nutrient for forest soils but also important for the soil’s water storage capacity. In addition, more and more tree parts with high water contents are also being used which inevitably will negatively impact on plant efficiency. The <h2>demand for timber grew by 23% from 2006 to 2007,<h2> with a total of 76.7 million cubic meters being harvested. Limited supply of timber let the price per solid cubic meter timber double from 30 Euro in 2003 and is now also affecting other sectors such as the pulp industry in Germany. One can easily imagine that timber needs to be imported to still the growing hunger for wood in Germany which will further decrease the positive effect of energy from biomass on climate. Issues with soil depletion and the tight timber market require urgently new concepts to satisfy the hunger for re-growing resources and to maintain sustainable forestry in Germany.

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