|The crops of energetic willow (salix viminalis) are growing on an ever wider scale in Romania. The plant is a willow hybrid, related to osier and may be an alternative and environmentally friendly solution to traditional fuels.
The first association in Romania which aims at cultivating and capitalizing on bionergetic plants was established in Covasna County, as “Green Energy”, in Sfântu Gheorghe, in 2008. The members of the association, who are themselves growers of salix, have managed to convince dozens of owners of land as regards the benefits of a business covering the growing of this plant.
The model of the business was inspired by Hungary, where the members of a similar association jointly cultivated hundreds of hectares of energetic willow. “Energetic willows grow very fast and, once they are sown, you needn’t work on them for 30 years. You just harvest once a year. It is true that the initial investment is rather large, and can even be as high as 1,500-1,600 Euros, but the profit is of 800 Euros a year for one hectare”, as declared by Vajda Lajos, the president of the “Green Energy” Association.
Low Emissions of Carbon Dioxide
The plants are picked the same way as maize; they are chopped and turned into pellets, which have a very low emission of carbon dioxide. A surface of 20,000 hectares with salix can ensure heat energy for two large towns. The cultivation of energetic willow might be a very cost effective solution for getting profit off uncultivated land. In Covasna, crops of salix viminalis have appeared in the localities of Aita Mare, Belin
, Haghig, Brateş, Poian, Estelnic and Alungeni. “The benefits of salix are multiple. We protect the environment as the salix produces oxygen, we use it as an alternative energy source and we no longer burn the forests, plus the land is no longer a heath”
, Vajda Lajos also said.
Business found on the Internet
Another entrepreneur who has developed a profitable business from cultivating salix is Benkő Sandor of Miercurea-Ciuc. “The company I run deals with performing pellets, used as a power source and, while looking for raw materials, I accessed the Internet and was surprised to find out that, in Sweden, willow had been used as an alternative energy source for over 30 years”
, the businessman also mentioned. The plant requires no special conditions; it is even suitable for the land right next to the marshy river beds. “There is a lot of land just sitting there in neglect, unfit for agriculture. Thousands of hectares could be cultivated with willow, and this plant might solve the problem of heating homes”
, the entrepreneur also said.
A Renewable Energy Source
The energetic willow reaches heights of up to 7 meters and a diameter at the base of up to 7cm in one year. The speed of growth on summer days is of 3 cm/ day. It is a crop that reaches a yield of 60 tons per hectare. It is only planted once and it is harvested yearly, and the crop may be operated for up to 30 years. That is why it also has the nature of renewable energy. The chopped dry willow is used as fuel in pellet plants. The energy resulted from bioenergetic plants has a production cost of half the price of methane gas and, consequently, the business is highly profitable. Apart from its use for energy purposes, salix is successfully used as a source of cellulose, in securing steep slopes, as well as in preventing landslides.
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