Writer: Shigeru Kanazawa
Woody Biomass study group Iwate
0n 20th January, at a meeting of the "woody biomass summit in Iwate" held at a hotel in Morioka city, I stood on the stage with Five prefectures governors, to read out a declaration.
A co-sponsor of the summit, the Woody Biomass study group Iwate is a voluntary association. Though the association has members across Japan, our main concern is local activity. The study group was established four years ago, in 2000.
It started in March 2000. Our plans were adopted as a program of the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), and three of us visited Sweden, around Vexyo. We had to feel our way through the relationships between administration and private enterprises, burning appliances, district heating systems,and other places. Then published a report in July and established the study group. We hoped that such local messages might bring in a new period.
At that time, we thought about the social framework as well as forestry in Japan, there are some issues . For example , we thought that electric power generation will not be main , heating will be more important.
When we established the study group, people involved in forestry and administration argued that " too expensive" or "not convenient to use ". Local administration in Japan is quite conservative and fractionized
Not only because of the cost difference, but the fact that these people were not familiar with woody biomass itself was one of main reasons of their objections.
In August 2001, our study group submitted directly to Governor Masuda a report "Opinions offered concerning Iwate model woody biomass usage" based on our information and experience obtained from the exchange with Vexyo. This report consists of two hundreds pages, some of the opinions offered as listed below.
1. Social policy
a. Establish a place where private enterprise and the administration exchange information
b. Help development of environmentally aware venture businesses
a. Development of an Iwate model pellet stove and a chip boiler
b. Establishment of burning appliances certification authority
3. Fuel production related items
a. Installation of wood pellet production facility by area
b. Pellet quality control
c. Improvement of fuel sales network
4. Timber from forest thinning items
a. Effective timber collection method
b. Efficient usage of timber from forest thinning
5. Other points
a. Promotion activity tours
b. Establishment of a place to share information
We have presented this as a concept of what we want the Iwate prefecture to be like in the future and emphasized the importance of "piling up small but visible successes rather than building a large facility", especially, and we have provided some suggestions on the specifications for the development of the "Iwate type pellet stove" that is suitable for pellets made from bark material.
Now I would like to explain the background conditions inherent to the area.
Firstly, this area is a producing center for charcoal. Being a cold district, heating is a necessity and there are many firewood-stove lovers.
Secondly, there is a company who has been producing wood pellet for 17 years. Thanks to existence of the plant, the development of "Iwate model pellet stove" was made possible.
Thirdly, there is a human network in the area outside the study group. It is worth mentioning the fact that member of the study group who have their roots in the local community and would not leave the area.
I would like to point out three key points that I found important through our study group activity not only for woody biomass but also for biomass projects as a whole.
1) PR and edification to enhance the understanding of inhabitants and users.
2) Equipment development
3) Secure stable supply of raw materials.
To solve these issues, this March, Iwate prefecture decided on a woody biomass usage plan.The objective of the project is to utilize rich forest resources, to promote industry and to create employment. At the same time, we aim to contribute to the carbon dioxide reduction target of Iwate prefecture, an 8% reduction from 1990. We suggested possible activities for each sectors of administration, private enterprises and NPOs.
One project is that prefecture introduces approx. 2,000 sets of pellet stoves by FY 2006. For FY 2004, for individuals and private enterprises, a subsidy of maximum fifty thousand yen for each is offered for 600 sets of stoves. The number of pellet stoves installed in the prefecture by FY 2003 is 200. The plan aims to install about three times that number of stoves in a year. A manufacturer produces the stove with a cooking box that is not available for a conventional kerosene stove by marketing research. It is quite unusual that a prefecture provides a subsidy for personal belongings and the people in charge are busy preparing brochures, visiting homebuilders and requesting to exhibit in department stores to invite applications for installation. In addition, we aim to develop a pellet boiler and a chip boiler jointly with private enterprises by FY 2005, and to reduce 5,400 tons of carbon dioxide exhaust emissions by FY 2006.
In most towns and villages, similar projects are implemented by the initiative of administrations. A chip boiler started operation at a school lunch center, in Rikuzen Takada city, Iwate prefecture, from this year, after citizens strongly asked for installation and then the administration decided upon its introduction. In neighboring Sumita-town, their new nursery has a wood pellet boiler.
After installation of this chip boiler, the situation has changed a lot and other nurseries are beginning to seriously consider plans to implement woody biomass system. Successful publicity of "local energy" has played a significant role. We see that a visible success grows offshoots.
In Japan, many consumers are rather sensitive to dioxin included in ash or exhaust fumes generated at the time of combustion and the safety of waste. This March, Iwate prefecture and the study group jointly made up and announced an incremental standard setting plan. This plan excluded waste wood from residential demolition that may be a possible cause of harmful material for wood pellets. The Forest Agency is to study this national standard from next year.
It must be an imperative of society that administration, enterprises and NPOs work jointly for "PR", "inovation", "distribution", "certification" and "resources", to develop a consumers-oriented strategy. In Vexyo, Sweden, with whom we are exchanging information, we see that private enterprises, administrations and researchers are cooperating hand in hand. For them, it is a matter of course to share wisdom among enterprises and NGOs sitting at a round table. For woody biomass industry in Iwate, obvious community development has just started.