In agricultural areas, hedges and wooded margins often form the division between two plots of land. We also see these divisions along roads and lanes. They are often the last areas of wild nature in our intensively used landscape. Nature that is regularly maintained and pruned. The felled and cut wood is increasingly being reused. A heating and cooling system has already been operating for some years now in the municipality of Bocholt, which operates using wood chippings originating from the maintenance of the numerous hedgerows in this municipality. Meerhout carried out a feasibility study together with VITO on a similar project in its municipality.

Rutger Baeten, researcher/specialist in heating networks at VITO explains: "This study shows that it can be interesting to use local wood as fuel for a centrally managed heating network for a number of buildings. Meerhout has a large number of hedgerows and shrubbery in its territory. Coppicing management requires a great deal of effort. If these efforts also prove effective, you have another approach that you can adopt. A large-scale approach and professional material can yield added value almost immediately."

Higher profitability

"Our research shows that an incineration plant that runs on wood chippings is perfectly feasible and justified for Meerhout", explains Rutger Baeten. "Even if the municipality needs to purchase the required biomass and does not harvest it itself. However, if the wood can be sourced and harvested locally, you would achieve an even greater level of profitability because you can avoid transport over long distances. Meerhout is pleased with the results of the study. The Board of Directors is now considering renovating an existing system and installing a heating network in order to be able to heat several schools."

Sustainable

"By using wooded margins sustainably and locally, we contribute to a more sustainable energy consumption. What is more, you will get a varied landscape with a greater level of biodiversity thanks to this large-scale approach. This is therefore good for farmers as well!"

Researcher
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