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Presentation of CZ Biom - Czech association for biomass on the occasion of the expert mission of International Energy Charter (11. 9. 2003)

1. Introduction

The civil association CZ Biom has been making an effort since 1994 about energy use of biomass in the Czech Republic and at the same time deals with the development of biogas production and the ecological dispose of biowastes. Today CZ Biom has 480 members, 21 of them are juridical subjects, especially producers of boilers, suppliers of biogas plants, research workplaces and producers of biofuels and biopowers.

Activities of the association take place in 9 professional departments, among that there is also department for international cooperation and informative and advisory centre for public. Activities of CZ Biomu are especially intensive on sector of making public of foreign pieces of knowledge and results of Czech research in the area of energy crop cultivation and biomass use for energy production. CZ Biom arranges professional and scientific conferences with foreign lectors, edits professional proceedings and book publications, edits the professional magazine about biomass and exercises the web site on internet (www.biom.cz). For laic public CZ Biom provided the repeatedly shown ten-part television serial story about renewable energy. CZ Biom is a corporate member of European association for biomass AE Biom and together with next European states is involved into the international project Altener on the topic of green-house gasses limitation. In the Czech Republic CZ Biom makes an effort about satisfactory subsidies for cultivation of energy crops and for energy use of biomass, carries out projection activities, suggests heating municipal systems and solves the project of science and research, provides under specification on biofuels (biopowers) and carries out the database of bio-based economy. The bio-economy database contains most of Czech firms and institution, which use renewable bioresources, bioprocesses and eco-industrial clusters to produce sustainable bioproducts, employment and income. Indicative targets of the energy use of biomass in the Czech Republic belong to the action plan of CZ Biom.

2. Basic conditions of agricultural biomass production in the Czech Republic

The total area of the Czech Republic (CR) is around 79 thousand km2. Czech population is 10.3 million inhabitants. The total agricultural area is around 4.3 million hectares including nearly 3.1 million hectares of arable soils. The total area of forests is 2.6 million hectares. Of the total agricultural area:

  • 20% of agricultural land is located in protected areas with imposed management regimes;
  • about 59% of the agricultural land fund belongs in the LFA category (less favoured areas);
  • 7%, i.e. 300 000 ha of agricultural land (according to qualified estimates) are in areas with highly unfavourable natural conditions, i.e. elevation above sea level of over 800 m, with slope of greater than 11°, and 600 - 800 m with a slope of greater than 8°.

These factors significantly limit the conventional agricultural production in the CR. On the other hand, the common composition of agricultural areas (see table 1) is very suitable for alternative agricultural production, in particular for biomass production, because the total area of unused unfertilised soils, which are usually suitable for biomass production, achieves 880 000 ha or about 1/5 of the total agricultural area.

Biomass is a very important renewable source of feedstock and energy. There are two main sources of biomass: 1) waste or by-products originated from conventional agriculture and forestry production; 2) special industrial crops and short rotation forestry.

Table 1: Composition of the agricultural area in the Czech Republic

Type of use of agricultural area total agricultural area [ha] arable land [ha] grassland [ha] permanent cultures [ha]
used fertilised soils 3 400 000 2 800 000 300 000 300 000
unused unfertilised soils 880 000 280 000 600 000 0
total agricultural areas 4 280 000 3 080 000 900 000 300 000

According to the main pathways of biomass utilisation all industrial crops are usually split into two groups: technical crops, which are used for production of fibre, technical oil, pharmaceutical and healthcare products etc., and energetic crops, which are used for production of biofuels and energy. Industrial crops are widely used for production of ethanol, renewable diesel, pharmaceutical and healthcare products, textile, paper, plastics, paints, adhesives, detergents, biochemicals etc. Agricultural biomass production is a very important part of sustainable development and it solves number of economic, social and environmental problems. The most important of them are as follows: 1) substitution for fossil fuels and raw materials by renewable biofuels and biomaterials; 2) decrease of carbon-dioxide emissions and lessening of greenhouse effects; 3) sustainable use of excess soils due to overproduction of conventional agricultural food-stuffs; 4) rural development and decrease of unemployment; 5) agricultural market innovation and expanding of market opportunities for agriculture; 6) increase of national energy security by use of domestic energy supplies.

3. Potential of biomass production in the ČR

Nowadays in the states of the European Union (EU) the most amount of biomass is used for energy production. Moreover, the main share of future renewable energy rising in the EU belongs to biomass (about 85 %). The same situation is in the Czech Republic (see table 2). The actual use of biomass as a renewable source of energy has share about 68,5 % and the potential use of biomass- about 63,4 % by 2010. In the same time, the growth of energetic biomass production and use demands the lowest investment cost per unit of energy (only 12 EUR per 1 GJ).

Table 2: Actual and potential (by 2010) production and use of renewable energy in the Czech Republic

Renewable source of energy

actual use

usable potential by 2010

total capital costs

investment costs

TJ/ year

TJ/ year

% of total

Mil. EUR



18 650

61 770





1 520

3 560




Sun energy


11 500




Photovoltaic effect






Thermal pump


6 670




Wind energy






Small hydroelectrics

2 340

5 660




Large hydroelectrics

4 500

4 500




In total

27 210

97 500




The actual share of renewable energies in the total energy consumption of the CR is about 2,5 %. The potential share of renewable energies is estimated about 5,6 % of total energy consumption by 2010. The potential renewable energy use should be increased by about 3,6 time from 27 210 TJ/year in 2002 to 97 500 TJ/year in 2010.

Table 3 shows estimated results of potential biomass use for energy in the Czech Republic after 2010 and after 2020. The main potential share of energetic biomass after 2010 belongs to firewood (up to 35 %) and cereal straw (22 %), but after 2020 - to energetic crops (30 %) and woods (25 %). Table 4 shows known data about actual stage of bioenergetic facilities number in the Czech Republic. The total annual consumption of energy biomass is about 1,8-2 million tons. The annual production of standardised biofuels (pellets and briquettes) achieves 140-160 thousand tons, 80 % of them are exported to the states of the EU.

Table 3. Estimation of potential biomass use for energy in the Czech Republic after 2010 and after 2020

Type of biomass

Source of biomass

after 2010

after 2020






waste of cut and manipulation





Cereal straw

25% of total yield





Straw of oil

100% of total yield 






perennial growth





Used wood

wood residues





Energetic crops

plantation on devoted soil






rape oil 





ETBE/ ethanol

sugar beet, cereals





Total biomass potential





Table 4. The number of bioenergetic facilities in the Czech Republic in 2000.

Type of facilities


small individual boilers with capacity < 50 kW

40 000

medium boilers with capacity 50-200 kW


municipal boilers with capacity 200-500 kW


municipal boilers with capacity > 500 kW


biogas plants


The most extensive and developed kind of biofuels in the CR is rape oil methyl ester or biodiesel. The biodiesel program was started in 1991. Nowadays most fuel filling stations currently sell biodiesel to ordinary consumers. Summary of production, export, import and consumption of rape oil methyl ester is shown in table 5. Subtracting indirect taxes and adding government subsidies support the most of bioenergy projects in the Czech Republic.

Table 5. Summary of production, export, import and consumption of rape oil methyl ester in the Czech Republic (in thousand tons)




































4. Research results of new perspective energetic crops in the CR

The development of energetic biomass use in the Czech Republic was started in the middle of the nineties. In the first period the energetic biomass use was orientated mainly towards the waste and by-products of agricultural and forestry production. There are many techniques and technologies for conversion of agriculture biomass to energy. The main of them are as follows: 1) direct combustion of biomass; 2) production and use of standardised solid biofuels (pellets and briquettes); 3) production and use of standardised liquid biofuels (biodiesel, ethanol etc.); 4) biogas production; 5) pyrolisis, etc. Now the most technically feasible and economically efficient is the method of direct combustion of agricultural and forestry wastes and by-products, but in future the main source of biomass will be production and use of energetic plant species (woods and agricultural crops). Nowadays we can see, as the energetic biomass use is more and more orientated towards the energetic plant species. Therefore selection and breeding of new perspective energetic plant species is the main condition for success development of energetic biomass production and the most important target for agricultural research.

Czech Research Institutes have been dealing with research of cultivation and utilization of industrial and energetic plant species since 1991. According to our long-term research, the perspective energetic crops must meet the certain requirements as follows:

  1. low-cost high yields;
  2. simple and low-input agricultural technologies;
  3. sowing is more preferable than planting;
  4. perennial crops are more preferable than annual;
  5. low-input level of fertilizing and plant protection;
  6. possibilities to use common agricultural machines;
  7. easy request conditions for harvesting;
  8. sufficient quality of biomass for fuel production;
  9. safeness for environment;

We tested the vast collection of energetic plants including short rotation coppices (about 30 clones of willows, 12 clones of poplars etc.) and energetic herb crops - about 60 species, for example giant knotweed (Polygonum sachalinensis), hemp (Cannabis sativa), kenaf (Hibiscus cannabinus), linseed (Linum usitatissimum), miscanthus (Miscanthus x giganteus), rape (Brassica napus), reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea), rosin weed (Silphium perfoliatum), Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius), Topinambur (Helianthus tuberosus), mallows (Malva spp.), different species of grass etc.

The comparison of cultivation perspective of fast growing woody plants (usually poplars and willows species) and energetic non-wood plants shows, that the cultivation of wood plants has some benefits, but in contemporary economic conditions of the Czech Republic it isn't suitable for large-scale application in our country, because woody plants require the high proportion of hand work or huge investment to the modern specialized techniques, which according to our information nobody produces and owns in our country.

If we consider carefully the availability of suitable techniques for cultivation and harvest of the energetic crops on a large scale (on hundreds and thousands hectares), the herbaceous (non-woody) energetic crops obtain unambiguously preference position, because it is possible to use the common agricultural techniques for their cultivation and harvest. According to our opinion, perennial crops have got unambiguously higher priority than annual crops, because their cultivation and harvest is always financially and technically more simple and profitable.

The perennial crops require usually high operation costs in the first year only - at establishing of perennial growth. In the following years these costs are minimal, because the very expensive requirement for soil tillage fall off. The perennial crops usually require only minimal cultivation, some manure and regular harvesting. The costs of growing of perennial energetic crops during the first year usually 1,5-3 times exceed the analogical costs of annual plant growing, whereas no production is harvested in the first year, and therefore just here state subsidies could be very acceptable for the start period of biomass production for energy. In the next years the production of biomass is able to cover overhead costs without subsidies.

It is found out that just the sorrel of Uteush is one of the most perspective perennial energetic crops, suitable for cultivation in the conditions of temperate climatic zone of Europe. The sorrel of Uteush (see photo No. 1) is a hybrid of the first generation received from the herb patience or English spinach (Rumex patientia L.) as a female line and Tien Shan sorrel (Rumex tianschanicus A.Los.) as a male line, which was bred with the method of long-term selection. There are two varieties of the sorrel of Uteush - the first variety was registered as "Rumex K-1" in the former USSR in 1988 and the second new variety was registered as "Rumex OK-2" in the Ukraine in 2000. These varieties of sorrel were created as new fodder crops in the Central Botanical Gardens named after Grishko at the Ukrainian National Academy of Science under leadership of professor Y.A.Uteush. These hybrids significantly exceed the original plants and many traditional feed crops both quality of feed production and yields of aboveground biomass and seeds. The variety OK-2 is more efficient and early than the parent variety K-1.

In the Czech Republic the sorrel of Uteush has been experimentally growing since 1992 on the trial field of the RICP in Chomutov. The main aim of this trial research was to verify and to qualify the hybrid sorrel availability for cultivation like a perspective energetic crop in conditions of temperate climatic zone. Experiment methods contained the complex tests of agricultural cultivation including sowing term, acceptable sowing rate, optimal fertiliser doses, growth treatment and protection against pest and weeds.

Our long-term trials confirmed that the sorrel of Uteush is one of the most perspective perennial energetic crops, suitable for fuel biomass cultivation as renewable source of energy in the conditions of temperate climatic zone of Europe.

This crop excels the high technological possibility and modest conditions for agricultural cultivation. On difference from some other high-producible energetic crops (e.g. miscanthus, bamboo, giant knotweed, giant reed etc.), the sorrel of Uteush is easily reproduced with seeds, which gives its some advantages before other crops in conditions of middle and north Europe. Moreover, the crop has high reproductive coefficient, because yield of seeds attains to 500 kg from hectare on average, which at sowing rate 5 kg/ha is enough for sowing of about 100 ha.

The sorrel seeds are easily harvested by direct combine harvest after small adjustment of machine, which requires lower speed of traversing compared to common way. We mustn't let the seeds over ripened, because it leads to high losses on yield. Otherwise the sorrel seeds usually ripen say about evenly and at optimum ripeness the harvest losses are minimal.

Our investigations demonstrated, that the sorrel of Uteush is a highly productive perennial crop, which characterizes a very high adaptability in respect of the sowing term, agricultural methods and soil-ecological conditions of cultivation. As a feeding crop it excels above all with the extremely early ripeness (the first mowing in late April) and the high content of raw protein and vitamins during early stages of growth.

It is found out that the sorrel of Uteush achieves on average to 220-260 cm of height and yields 14-16 tons of dry matter of aboveground biomass from 1 ha (in the case only 1 cutting per year in dry state as energy biomass), whereas the sorrel achieves steady high yield already from the third year and keeps them for many years. For instance, at our place the sorrel growth is 11 years old, but the author of this crop owns a growth 14 years old. Both sorrel growths are in a good condition.

The great benefits of this crop is the early ripening - already in July it is possible to harvest the sorrel as dry energetic biomass, whereas at this time a farmer easily chooses suitable weather period for mowing and air drying of this crop in the field and final harvesting with pressing to huge packs. This summer harvest prefers the sorrel of Uteush in comparison with other energetic crops, which may be harvested mostly as late as October or November, when it is very problematic to choose suitable term for harvest with reference to character weather in late autumn, that is why their harvest often putting off to spring, which causes 25-50 % of losses.

The sorrel is very tolerant to soil and site agroecological conditions with the exception of very acid soils (<5.5 pH) and waterlogged soils with high level of ground water (0-50 cm of depth). It can be successfully grown in many regions of Europe and the world. It has no special requirements for soil fertility or nutrient content. In the case of sorrel use as source of fuels from biomass its requirements for fertilization is minimal and only first year it is necessary to apply 60-90 kg NPK per 1 ha. It may be also apply some organic manure in rate of 40-80 t/ha. If the sorrel growing for food or feed purposes which requires multiple mowing (usually 2-3 per year) its requirements for fertilization are increased: it is necessary to apply 30-60 kg NPK per 1 ha yearly (usually in spring or after cutting).

The hybrid sorrel has a strong hollow stem resistant to lodging. It grows depending on the site to a height of 120-160 cm on sand and stone soils and to a height 220-260 cm on high fertile soils. The leaves of root rosette are 35-50 cm long, but upper stem leaves are smaller. The small flowers are androgynous, the male flowers are purple-red and the female flowers are yellow-green, both ones borne in bunch. The fruit is a small three-edge shaped nut. It is glossy and brown. 1000-seed weight is 3-3.4 g.

For successful foundation of a sorrel growth it is necessary very carefully prepared soils. The main problems are weeds. The seedbed for sorrel can be prepared the same manner as for spring cereals and technical crops: ploughing at the sowing depth in autumn or in spring 1-2 months before sowing; harrowing and rolling with heavy roller in spring 2-3 days before sowing.

The sorrel seeds germinate at 5-6 days after sawing at 8-10°C. It is determined that optimal parameters for sowing of sorrel are next: width of rows - 12,5-25 cm, depth of seeds - 1-1.5 cm; sowing rate is 5-6 kg/ha or 1.7-2 million germinative seeds per 1 ha. The sorrel is a very adaptable plant with regard to the sowing term: it can be sowing from April to July with the same effect. It is necessary only to choose a suitable period for the sorrel sowing when the soil is wet enough (e.g., after good rainfalls). Autumn term of sowing is unsuitable because young plants are not tolerant to winter freeze enough. Nevertheless adult plants are very tolerant to winter frosts. After emergence of sorrel it is necessary to accomplish the soil loosening with weeding (usually 2-3 times during the first year), because in initial phases of the sorrel grow it is usually infested with weeds, but in higher stages of development and in next years this early crop suppresses practically all weeds and therefore don't need any chemical protection. We do not recommend mowing of sorrel in the first year of growing, because it is very important for the strengthening of young sorrel growth.

No diseases have yet been determined. Appearance of pest is observed relatively often (above all a goldsmith and other beetles), but mostly in later stage of growing, when they already couldn't influence yields of dry biomass in principle. That is why the sorrel does not require application of chemical spray against pest in the case of cultivation for energy biomass. If the sorrel is cultivated for food and feed or the sorrel growths are heavy attacked by pest, the chemical protection is requisite.

In addition to use of the hybrid sorrel as energetic crop there are excellent possibilities for use of Uteush's sorrel as food or fodder crop, because it is characterized by high content of valuable essential nutrients and vitamins.Therefore the hybrid sorrel is a very perspective crop for production of high quality forage, specialised food products and biologically active food and feed additives.

High contents of essential nutrients in the hybrid sorrel roots in conjunction with high root yields (c. 30-40 t/ha from the third year) make this crop very interesting for utilization as a preceding crop. Moreover, the roots of hybrid sorrel have the significant content of tanning agents (10-20%), which allows creating the tanning additives (group of the vegetative polyphenols), i.e. for application in leather production.

Graf 1 shows the rapid increase of the hybrid sorrel cultivation in the Czech Republic for energetic purposes.

5. Conclusions

In conclusion we would like to mention about some problems with energy use of biomass, which we are obliged to solve and which able to endanger the fulfilment of our indicative goals.

Last year there was taken place the public distribution of some pseudo-scientific work due to the initiative of one of Czech gas companies, which informs that combustion of biomass including woods endangers the population health with over-limit emission of polychlorinated dibenzooxines and dibenzofuranes. This information was disseminated with popular periodicals and invoked the distribution of alarming message, especially problematical for users of boilers on biomass in family houses. This fact significantly decreased the interest in energy production from biomass. At present this alarm report is eliminated by painstaking enlightenment of CZ BIOM in Czech population.

The next present problem about energy use of biomass is the endeavour of Czech Ministry of environment to restrict and regulate the cultivation of our most remarkable energy crop - the sorrel of Uteusch by reason of it is introduced non-original sort of crop. This restriction is able to endanger business of many new projects about biomass use including several new biopower plants.

Today with reference to our join into the European Union it is expected some changes of agricultural subsidy system and it is speculated about remove of current preferences for cultivation of energy plants in comparison with conventional crops. In this case it is possible to expect, that farmers will leave off cultivation of energy plants, which will be able to invoke the stagnation and the non-fulfilment of Czech indicative goals in next years.

Obrázek 2
Graf 1: Growth of the sorrel cultivation in the Czech Republic (ha)

Článek: Tisknout s obrázky | Tisknout bez obrázků | Poslat e-mailem

Související články:

A position paper of CZ Biom to the promotion of the liquid biofuel
The National Waste Management Plan in the Czech republic: outstanding opportunities for composting and MBT

Zobrazit ostatní články v kategorii Pěstování biomasy

Datum uveřejnění: 17.9.2003
Poslední změna: 13.9.2003
Počet shlédnutí: 16441

Citace tohoto článku:
VÁŇA, Jaroslav, USŤAK, Sergej: Presentation of CZ Biom - Czech association for biomass on the occasion of the expert mission of International Energy Charter (11. 9. 2003). Biom.cz [online]. 2003-09-17 [cit. 2019-07-19]. Dostupné z WWW: <https://biom.cz/cz/odborne-clanky/presentation-of-cz-biom-czech-association-for-biomass-on-the-occasion-of-the-expert-mission-of-international-energy-charter>. ISSN: 1801-2655.

26 Oct 2005 10:11 GK "GRINLAT"
- Biomass. Pellets from sunflower peel.
15 Nov 2005 23:16 J Apodaca
16 Nov 2005 20:26
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