The European Union creates more than 25 million tonnes [as of 2013] of agricultural wood prunings each year, but only a marginal percentage is used as solid biofuel. The EuroPruning project sought to turn prunings into a valuable fuel source by developing solutions for their harvesting, transportation and storage, meant to create growth in the European biofuels market.
"The new logistics chain was meant to take advantage of an unused agricultural residue to generate energy in a sustainable way", said Fernando Sebastian, project coordinator from the Research Centre for Energy Resources and Consumption (CIRCE). Horticultural pruning by-products have been an essentially unexploited biomass resource. In order to modify this, EuroPruning aimed at developing new logistics needed to make the collection and use of prunings economically, technically and environmentally sound. "The mobilisation of available pruning residues could generate more than 30.000 jobs in Europe, bringing social and economic benefits to rural communities by diversifying their economies."
EuroPruning developed new machinery for harvesting and treating prunings from the field, provided solutions for cost-effective storage options, and developed a decision-support tool to improve logistics from farm to final user. EuroPruning monitored the value chain in terms of economic performance, biomass quality, sustainability and conservation of soil properties. Demonstrations of the identified value chains for Mediterranean, Oceanic and Continental climates were held in Spain, France and Germany to show their feasibility and to evaluate the performance of the project results.
This project received funding from the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme for Research, Technological Development and Demonstration (Knowledge-Based Bio-Economy (KBBE)), under grant agreement No. 312078. The project was 70% co-financed by the EU, the total budget of the project was 4,583,019 EUR.