Monday, February 17, 2014

Assessment of forest biomass for use as energy. GIS-based analysis of geographical availability and locations of wood-fired power plants in Portugal

Following the establishment of Portugal's national policy programs concerning renewable energy, which calls for a 45% commitment of renewable energy by 2010, Portugal began various studies regarding the potential of biomass. Portugal is one of the more heavily forested European countries and as such the gains from using wood power plants has considerably more appeal than in most other European countries. To harness this energy 20 power plants with a supply of 86.4 MW are currently in construction. These plants produce a form of electrical and thermal energy known as combined heat and power (CHP). The creation of these plants will greatly increase the degradation of forest resources and in order to counter or limit this damage several studies were conducted for this purpose. At first the potential levels of  biomass energy was  determined through GIS and foliage coverage. 
This study focuses both on the viability of CHP production as well as solely electrical productivity. When analyzed through this lens additional sources of renewable energy would need to be created to acheive a 45% quota. Implementing CHP on the otherhand would satisfy this 45% requirement and then some.
Viana, H. (2010). Assessment of forest biomass for use as energy. gis-based analysis of geographical availability and locations of wood-fired power plants in portugal. Applied Energy87(8), 2551-2560. Retrieved from


  1. What's interesting is the fact that Portugal was able to maintain this level of vegetation for so long, I was sure that the industrial revolution would have wiped most of its forests out. Aside from that I'm curious just how viable this solution is despite the energy quota being met and the "counters" to the degradation of these Portuguese forests. How tight is the country's environmental laws and is there a possibility they might need to export energy to their neighbor instead of just supplying for their own country?

  2. Sorry Austin. I totally posted the same article for my thing too. Didn't see yours until after I'd typed mine up.

  3. I like that GIS is not only used for mapping things that currently exist, but also can map potential outcomes for the future. This will be extremely helpful considering the damage Portugal might do to its biodiversity in their forests because of these power plants. The total theoretical is nearly half of the total forests in Portugal. It makes me wonder what lengths countries will go to for renewable energy.