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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2013

Productivity and profitability of harvesting power line corridors for bioenergy

Fernandez-Lacruz R., Di Fulvio F., Bergstrom D.


Trees growing under the wires and around the pylons carrying power lines (PL) represent a significant threat to the power supply because they can cause power outages and damage. The vegetation in these PL corridors is cleared motor-manually on a regular basis, which represents about 50% of the PL maintenance costs. In Sweden, PL corridors account for 140 000 ha of productive forest land, with an estimated bioenergy potential of 3 TWh/year. The aim of this study was to measure the productivity of a harvester (with an accumulating felling head) and a forwarder, performing PL corridor clearing (with the collection of whole trees for energy use) and to calculate how the cost and economic profitability is dependent on tree height, biomass removal, harvested area, forwarding distance and wood fuel price. The study also compared the economic profitability of the mechanized harvesting system with motor-manual clearing. Experimental units were inventoried along a PL corridor in central Sweden and a time study of one harvester and one forwarder (with a single operator per machine), working in those units, was carried out. The results showed that if the tree height was greater than about 6 m, the mechanized harvesting system became a more cost-efficient alternative, when compared to motor-manual clearing, but it was also found that mechanized clearing is not always the most cost-effective option. Nevertheless, mechanization of PL clearing has a huge potential for expansion, requiring further research in the combined management of the PL corridors and side areas.


accumulating felling head; clearing; maintenance; motor-manual; power grid; wood fuel

Published in

Silva Fennica
2013, Volume: 47, number: 1
Publisher: Finnish Society of Forest Science, Finnish Forest Research Institute