Rokwood : Major EU project looks to accelerate woody energy crops industry

Crops for Energy is one of 20 partners from six countries involved in a major European Union project called ROKWOOD: European regions fostering innovation for sustainable production and efficient use of woody biomass.


This will focus on how to improve the market conditions for the increased uptake of woody energy crops grown in short rotations (such as willow, poplar, Robinia, Eucalyptus and Paulownia. The overall aim of the project is to promote strong economic development through targeted and improved research and technological development. Ultimately the partnership will develop a joint action plan – effectively a policy wish list to take to the European Parliament and individual governments.

ROKWOOD is funded by the European Commission’s Seventh Framework Programme under the theme of ‘Transnational cooperation between regional research-driven clusters’. The 3 year project is led by ttz Bremerhaven based in Germany. Each of the six countries is represented by a regional cluster of organisations comprising a relevant research body, business entity and local authority. The UK’s input is focussed on the South West of England. C4E are working alongside the Centre for Sustainable Energy and Dorset County Council. Other countries participating in the project are Poland, Spain, Sweden and Ireland.

The first phase of this project is to obtain an in-depth and definitive picture of today’s woody energy crops sector focussing on the aforementioned species and their use as biomass. The regional analysis of the state of play will involve answering the following questions:

  • What’s going on in the sector?
  • Why aren’t more farmers and land owners growing these crops?
  • What is needed to get the sector moving?
  • How can we access the support that is needed?

In the SW region the research will look at the many schemes and projects that have failed to get off the ground and will build on C4E’s position paper and evidence based report called “Why we need energy crops in the SW”. Subsequent work packages will look at how to overcome identified barriers through the development of the joint action plan, an international co-operation strategy and a range of dissemination activities.