16 January 2020

Sustainable heat from landscape conversion and maintenance work at PROSEU Living Lab in Belgium

Providing sustainable heat from wood chips produced during landscape conversion and maintenance work (LCMW) is an increasingly hot topic across Europe. How can public buildings and citizens be provided with local heat from the region while, at the same time, preserving and strengthening biodiversity? This is the focus of the Getesnippers project in the Gete region, situated in the Flemish part of Belgium. As one of the Living Labs, the initiative is exploring the possibilities and working on a plan supported by the PROSEU consortium.

The aim is to set up an economically viable valorisation chain for the collection of biomass feedstock and subsequent production of sustainable heat. It is an existing inter-municipal project that has received initial funding from the Flemish government and brings together representatives from several municipalities (Linter, Geetbets, Zoutleeuw, Hoegaarden, Landen) and stakeholders involved in LCMW. The main challenge is to set up the valorisation chain which can operate without external financing.

The most recent meeting of this Living Lab took place on 14 January 2020 in Hoegaarden. Inspired by successful good practice examples from other European countries and an understanding of the European policy context, participants worked on a vision on achieving both climate benefits as well as increasing biodiversity (e.g. in hedgerows which are typical for the regional landscape). Concrete steps, such as the stocktaking of available biomass feedstock and the potential end-users of produced heat as well as the establishment of a central coordination role were discussed. Challenges such as permitting and acceptance of LCMW were also brought up. It is clear that, given the complexity of factors involved, a viable business model lies at the basis of this endeavour.

The next meeting of this Living lab will take place in the next months to further advance the discussion on the business model for Getesnippers.