Can renewable energy power the world?
Can renewable energy power the world?

This free course is available to start right now. Review the full course description and key learning outcomes and create an account and enrol if you want a free statement of participation.

Free course

Can renewable energy power the world?

4.4.1 Woody biomass

Well-managed forests can provide a sustainable fuel source, reducing atmospheric CO2 as the trees grow, storing it for up to a few centuries and providing a substitute for fossil fuel when felled.

Figure 5 A field of short rotation coppice (SRC) willow

In recent years there has been increased interest in woody crops planted and harvested entirely for energy production.

Activity 2

What is the most common management system for these types of woody crops?


The most common management system for these types of crop is short rotation forestry (SRF), and a less widespread variant known as short rotation coppicing (SRC). The ‘rotation’ is the periodic cutting of the wood every 8–20 years, with the trees then being re-planted or, for suitable SRC species, left to regrow from the stump after harvesting every 3–5 years.

The cellulose in plants that are non-woody is also used to provide fuel, and you’ll move on to this subject next.


Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has over 40 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to university level study, find out more about the types of qualifications we offer, including our entry level Access courses and Certificates.

Not ready for University study then browse over 900 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus