Highlights: Pre-grinding and integrated screening is a way of guaranteeing fuel quality, but, when the stumps’ ash content is six per cent or below, the procurement costs are higher than with grinding of stumps at the plant. Because of high transportation costs, stump harvesting is the most profitable in Southern Finland, where there is greater availability of stumps than in Northern Finland.
The aim of this study was to evaluate cost competitiveness, at regional level, of various systems for stump transportation and grinding, and to compare the results to the procurement costs of delimbed stems from early thinnings at the stand and regional level. The accumulation and procurement costs of stumps and delimbed stems were estimated within a 100-kilometer radius from two power plants located in Kouvola and in Kajaani. The analyses were performed as simulated treatments in clear cuts and thinnings of young stands, using existing productivity and cost functions, alternative ash percentages for stump wood, and yield calculations based on the forest industry regeneration felling stand data and the sample plots data of the National Forest Inventory of Finland. The results were expressed as Euros per solid cubic meter (€ m–3) and Euros per megawatt hour (€ MWh–1). The results highlight the need to improve stump fuel quality and increase the heating value. The procurement cost of stumps was about 1 € MWh–1 lower in Kouvola compared to Kajaani, when using conceivable ash content of 6% for stumps ground at the plant, and ash content of 1.5% for stumps pre-ground at the roadside landing. The procurement costs of stumps were, on average, 0.55 € MWh–1 lower compared to delimbed stems in Kouvola, and on average 0.6 € MWh–1 higher in Kajaani. Pre-grinding and integrated screening is a feasible way to guarantee the fuel quality expressed as ash content already at roadside landings, but the procurement costs are higher compared to grinding stumps at the plant, when the ash content of ground stumps is 6% or less.