Society faces many overarching global challenges such as climate change, energy price volatility, energy security and environmental pollution. Within Europe, these challenges cascade directly down to each member state where we must play our part in meeting European Union (E.U.) directives targeted at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, de-carbonizing our energy supply, and improving the quality of our environment, particularly water. In the UK we strive to meet certain goals, such as our Renewable Heat and Electricity Targets, while reducing the levels of pollution in the environment and complying with the demands of the E.U. Water Framework Directive. Local national strategies are also putting pressure on achieving these goals such as the Northern Ireland and Ireland Agri-Food industry ambition of increasing the growth of agriculture by 2020 to incorporate significant growth in sales, exports, and employment. The coupling of this strategy to the delivery of the E.U. Water Framework Directive to improve water quality is indeed a challenge. The difficulty of protecting the environment and meeting water quality goals is further compounded with our legacy high soil phosphorus content and its current significant impact on our environmental water quality. There are methods by which we can sustainably manage increasing quantities of waste water compliantly and for water utilities to adopt low carbon sustainable waste water treatment solutions while simultaneously contributing to an indigenous biomass energy supply chain. This talk will describe how energy plantations of short rotation coppice willow are currently being utilized for the sustainable recycling of waste waters.
This project is supported by an Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Competitive Grant no. 2011-68005-30407 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).