BioEnergy Research

, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 336–350 | Cite as

Financial Analysis of the Cultivation of Short Rotation Woody Crops for Bioenergy in Belgium: Barriers and Opportunities

  • Ouafik El KasmiouiEmail author
  • Reinhart Ceulemans


This paper analyses the financial performance of a poplar short rotation woody crop (SRWC) plantation in Belgium, from a farmer’s and an investor’s viewpoint, based on simulations from the newly developed model POPFINUA. The establishment, production and harvest costs were investigated to calculate the net present value (NPV) and the equivalent annual value (EAV) of the SRWC cultivation when the biomass chips were sold at a price of 40 € Mg−1 with a moisture content (m.c.) of 50 %. The calculated NPVs were 229 and −485 € ha−1, and the EAVs equalled 16.3 and −34.6 € ha−1 year−1 for the farmer’s and investor’s scenario, respectively. The break-even price at which the produced biomass could be sold at the farm gate excluding transport, handling, storage and profit margins of the involved companies was calculated using the levellised costs (LC) method and equalled 78.4 and 83.5 € oven-dried ton (odt)−1 for the farmer’s and investor’s viewpoint, respectively. Three harvesting strategies, applied on a SRWC plantation of 18.1 ha in Flanders (Belgium), were studied and compared. It became clear that preference should be given to more economic, small-scale harvesters instead of large-scale self-propelled harvesters, given the relatively limited surface available for SRWCs in Belgium. Furthermore, the inclusion of transportation over a distance of 50 km by truck increased the LC by 15.1 € odt−1. Moreover, subsidies such as establishment grants and/or yearly incentives proved indispensable to make this long-term investment profitable. This is particularly true for the scenario where an investor decides to cultivate SRWCs for energy purposes.


Economic analysis Bioenergy crops Poplar Willow Feasibility/viability assessment 



The principal author is a Ph.D. fellow of the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO, Brussels). The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Research Council under the European Commission’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) as ERC Advanced Grant agreement no. 233366 (POPFULL), as well as from the Flemish Hercules Foundation as Infrastructure contract ZW09-06. Further funding was provided by the Flemish Methusalem Programme and by the Research Council of the University of Antwerp. Finally, we gratefully acknowledge both Joris Cools for excellent technical support and Kristof Mouton for logistic support at the field site and the information regarding biomass sales and agricultural machinery.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biology, Research group of Plant and Vegetation EcologyUniversity of AntwerpWilrijkBelgium

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