University of Florence, Department of agricultural, foodstuff and forestry systems management

The Ente Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze has funded a research fellowship for the Department of Agricultural, Foodstuff and Forestry Systems Management (Dipartimento di Gestione dei Sistemi Agrari, Alimentari e Forestali) of the University of Florence. The objective is to contribute to the development of an important branch of research aimed at the study and use of biomass, based on the development of local chains of forestry biomass for the production of energy in Tuscany.

These are the foundations underlying the creation of the iBioNet centre, an international monitoring network on forestry-energy biomass systems, the main purpose of which is to foster the development of local forestry-energy biomass projects in the areas of Tuscany, Liguria, Sardinia and Corsica.

Among the main instruments utilised are: equipment for planning the new systems in relation to the territorial supply of biomass and the consumption of pre-existing systems; equipment for energy-production processes; systems of real-time monitoring for all the energy systems and, finally, instruments for self-design of biomass thermal systems for individual users and for the large district heating networks.

The task of iBioNet is to make available the activities of the biomass chains and to monitor their correct management in order to prevent anomalous situations arising. These could, for example, take the form of: the emergence of speculative energy systems, either public or private, that see biomass as a tool for obtaining public incentives; the creation of local environmentalist committees and movements which, not being sufficiently informed regarding the positive effects generated by sustainable local biomass chains, could organise actions of protest against their development.

This project addresses a very topical subject connected with the use of alternative energies. It is being co-funded from Community sources and features a broad partnership including 10 forestry firms, 5 forestry consortia, 4 municipal unions, 21 system managers and 200 end users.