Growing Short Rotation Energy Crops: The potential explored

27 August 2009

Taupo plays host to a conference organised by the International Energy Agency (IEA) Bioenergy Task 30 organisation this December to examine the potential of short rotation crops (SRC) as a source of future energy supplies.

Promoted under the banner, “Short Rotation Crops: Linking technology and biomass,” the conference has attracted high profile international speakers who will provide an overview of current knowledge in the area of SRC and country-specific case studies. Two companies with a strong focus on renewable energy –  Crown Research Institute, Scion, and Pure Power Global, a renewable resources company –  will be supporting the IEA host and manage the three day event.

New Zealand – and Taupo in particular – is an entirely appropriate place for the discussion to take place. The climate and soils of New Zealand provide many opportunities for producing biomass for energy. While forest residues play a significant part of current energy production, there are many other potential sources of dedicated energy crops. Opportunities include willow, eucalypts, switch grass and other woody and lignocellulosic species that have the added benefit of not competing with food crops.

Along with providing a background to current and emerging SRC, the primary conference theme will explore the technologies essential to creating a viable system. These include processes for converting SRC into energy for heat or biofuels, efficient harvesting systems and tools for land use optimisation. Another key aspect to be covered is establishing pathways to market. The event will conclude with a field trip to current SRC sites in the Taupo region, being managed as part of a Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry Sustainable Farming Fund research project.

Conference organiser and Scion scientist Ian Nicholas says delegates will gain a greater appreciation of the international and domestic knowledge on potential SRC, potential energy pathways and the role of technology. He says the conference will be of interest to land owners and managers, government agencies, bioenergy suppliers and investors, and scientists and researchers in the field of bioenergy.

Pure Power Global plantation manager, Kevin Snowdon, describes the timing as opportune. “New-generation lignocellulosic conversion processes represent a set of disruptive technologies that are now ready for deployment across a broad spectrum of feedstock resources in plantation forests in North America, South America, Asia and New Zealand.”

The conference runs from 2 to 4 December, with a pre-conference meeting for IEA Bioenergy Task 30 members on 1 December. Registrations are now open with an early bird discount available until 31 August 2009. Details and a registration form can be downloaded at

- Ends -