The bioenergy GIS was one of the novel and useful tools highlighted at the bioenergy crop event in Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland recently. Mike Wilson of the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) described it as a roadmap for bioenergy. “This is an online service that will tell the user all they need to know about the possibilities of becoming a bioenergy producer or consumer in any area,” explained Wilson.
The system has a number of tools that are especially useful for farmers. For instance, if a farmer is considering planting a biomass crop all he has to do is go onto the site and identify his geographic location. The system — which carries data for miscanthus, willow, reed canary grass and oil seed rape — is programmed with the soil types, as well as ground and climatic conditions for all parts of the country. It will indicate what biomass crop could suitably be grown in any given area.
Wilson said the information given provided a broad indication rather than a definitive finding and scientific soil checks would still be essential. The system could also be of benefit to users of bioenergy crops, the SEAI official added. “If a pig farmer wants to convert his heating system from fossil fuel to a bioenergy source then he can go to the online GIS system, identify his locality on the map and the website will indicate the various bioenergy crops being grown in his hinterland. The site will also enable the farmer to calculate the amount of land in his area suitable for bioenergy crops,” Wilson illustrated.