Study suggests GIS based estimate of available agricultural land suitable for SRWC.
Certain criteria was applied to identify agricultural land suitable for SRWC.
Results suggest total amount, size and location of agro-lands suitable for SRWC.
Final estimates suggest the amount of energy that could be produced from SRWC.
This study provides a country level estimate of geographically available agricultural land area which has been out of production for more than two years and has not been converted into forest or urban area, and is suitable for short rotation woody crop (SRWC) production to meet EU 2020 renewable energy targets in Latvia. Geographic information system (GIS) was used to estimate the total amount and location of agricultural land suitable for SRWC. Several criteria of restrictions were applied in the assessment process, such as agricultural land use status, soil and slope restrictions, designated territories of protection, minimum size of agricultural land within each tax parcel and minimum tax parcel distance from the roads. A total estimated amount of agricultural land that meets the minimum criteria is 261,710 ha. Most (42%) of the suitable agricultural land for SRWC is in the range from 10 to 50 ha. The greatest proportion (29%) of that land is located in the Latgale region. If only 5% (13,085 ha) of the estimated agricultural land were used for SRWC with yields of 7–10 Mgdry ha−1 yr−1, it could produce 485,475–693,532 MWh of biomass energy annually, which is roughly 412,653–589,502 MWh of delivered energy if the heating systems are 85% energy efficient. It would result in 13–18% of the total heat energy produced by heating plants in Latvia in 2012.