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August 2012 Issue 4 • Volume 3

No laughing matter

How can an industry set up to reduce the environmental effects of power generation fall foul of anti-pollution laws?

Onwards and upwards

Linde Engineering Dresden discusses whether Choren’s demise is a reflection of the biomass gasification market

Newfound legitimacy

Can pyrolysis produce biofuel that is ultimately cost-competitive with petroleum?

Regional focus: bioenergy in South America


Bioenergy xxxx

Ramada Plaza, Antwerp, Belgium 21-22 November 2012

2012

All this for just €990 when booked before the 21st September

Need a reason to attend the 5th Biofuels International Conference in November in Antwerp?

How about 10? In the space of two days you will hear presentations from: KLM: The airline that conducted the first commercial biofuel flight

UPM: The world’s first biorefinery producing advanced biofuels from wood-based feedstock

Beta Renewables: The world’s first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant

The European Commission: Providing an update on the latest developments to the Renewable Energy Directive

Renewable Energy Group: The US’ largest biodiesel producer

TMO Renewables: The owner of the UK’s first cellulosic ethanol demonstration plant

CropEnergies: largest bioethanol producer in Germany

Six sustainability experts including ISCC, Abengoa Bioenergy Trading, the RSB, ePURE and more

Agri Energy: The largest facility in UK to produce biodiesel from waste cooking oil

The Port of Amsterdam, Rotterdam & Ghent

Brought to you by the publishers of the leading international industry magazine Biofuels International, this is one event you can’t afford to miss. For full details visit www.biofuels-news.com/conference or contact Margaret Dunn on +44 2086874126 xx • December 2011 Bioenergy Insight


contents Bioenergy

Contents 3 Comment Issue 4 • Volume 3 August 2012 Horseshoe Media Limited Marshall House 124 Middleton Road, Morden, Surrey SM4 6RW, UK www.bioenergy-news.com Associate publisher & Editor Margaret Dunn Tel: +44 (0)20 8687 4126 margaret@bioenergy-news.com Deputy EDITOR James Barrett Tel: +44 (0)20 8687 4146 james@bioenergy-news.com STAFF WRITER Keeley Downey Tel: +44 (0)20 8687 4183 keeley@horseshoemedia.com INTERNATIONAL Sales MANAGER Anisha Patel Tel: +44 (0) 203 551 5752 anisha@bioenergy-news.com North America sales representative Matt Weidner +1 610 486 6525 mtw@weidcom.com PRODUCTION Alison Balmer Tel: +44 (0)1673 876143 alisonbalmer@btconnect.com SUBSCRIPTION RATES £120/€185/$240 for 6 issues per year. Contact: Lisa Lee Tel: +44 (0)20 8687 4160 Fax: +44 (0)20 8687 4130 marketing@horseshoemedia.com

No part of this publication may be reproduced or stored in any form by any mechanical, electronic, photocopying, recording or other means without the prior written consent of the publisher. Whilst the information and articles in Bioenergy Insight are published in good faith and every effort is made to check accuracy, readers should verify facts and statements direct with official sources before acting on them as the publisher can accept no responsibility in this respect. Any opinions expressed

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Biomass news

13 Biogas news 17 Biopower news 23 Technology news 32 Nuclear disaster sparks Japanese renewable energy surge 33 Clean energy initiative enters phase two 34 Energy efficiency made easy A new scheme offering advice on tax efficient financing for renewable energy generation equipment could prove invaluable to today’s challenging economic climate 35 Biomass not yet taking its fair share Wind and solar projects are powering ahead in South America, but for the time being biomass operators are still lagging behind 37 Plant update – South America 38 South America: starting small and slowly... South America, particularly Brazil, may be big in biofuels, but the region has yet to flourish when it comes to producing biomass 41 Chile: powering its curds and whey Bioenergy Insight looks at how Chilean biopower company Schwager Energy is helping the country’s goal of becoming more energy efficient 43 The Peruvian bioplant mystery A new joint power and ethanol plant is now fully operational in Peru, but you may have trouble finding it on a map 45 No laughing matter It seems crazy that an industry set up to reduce the environmental effects of power generation should fall foul of anti-pollution laws, but that is exactly what has happened at some US plants. Phil Thane looks at the best possible monitoring and control options 49 Onwards and upwards Linde Engineering Dresden reveals why it wanted Choren’s Carbo-V technology, and discusses whether Choren’s demise is a reflection of the biomass gasification market 50 Newfound legitimacy The US Department of Energy recently published cost projections for several advanced biofuels technologies, and their competitiveness with petroleum. The pyrolysis pathway – where biomass is compressed into oil at high temperatures – showed the best numbers 52 Home and dry Frédéric Dalimier of Xylowatt tells Keeley Downey about the company’s new strategic alliance that will improve the attractiveness of its gasification technology 54 Torrefaction breakthrough imminent? Can torrified biomass make the leap to large-scale commercial production? 58 Densification challenges While torrefaction is growing in popularity, the technology available to densify it into an energy-rich solid fuel is proving challenging 61 One track mind The Port of Amsterdam has decided not to add any new transhipment terminals for mineral energy to the port area until 2020. Instead it will turn its attention to becoming a major player in renewable energy

August 2012 Issue 4 • Volume 3

No laughing matter

How can an industry set up to reduce the environmental effects of power generation fall foul of anti-pollution laws?

Onwards and upwards

65 Bamboozled by a lack of interest in biogas James Barrett provides highlights from the latest AEBIOM conference this summer

Linde Engineering Dresden discusses whether Choren’s demise is a reflection of the biomass gasification market

Newfound legitimacy Can pyrolysis produce biofuel that is ultimately cost-competitive with petroleum?

68 Event listing

in this magazine should not be construed as those of the publisher. Regional focus: bioenergy in South America

ISSN 2046-2476

Bioenergy front cover_August_2012.indd 1

16/08/2012 09:51

Front cover courtesy of Andritz

Bioenergy Insight

August 2012 • 1


Bioenergy xxxx

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Bioenergy Insight


comment Bioenergy The Olympics fell short of its 20% target for renewable energy sources. Is this a sign of things to come for the 2020 target for the same amount?

Margaret Dunn Associate publisher

B

Time to piggyback the Olympic spirit

y all accounts the London 2012 Olympics was a resounding success. Proving endless critics wrong the UK’s transport system held up, the park was ready in time, security was tight and the opening ceremony was undoubtedly spectacular. But, only around 11% of the energy for the event came from renewable sources, a long way off from the targeted 20%. Plans to build a wind turbine at the Olympic Park were scrapped back in June 2010, and those taking a light-hearted view even implied that empty seats were a last ditch attempt to reduce the carbon emissions for spectators travelling to the event! Joking aside, the inclusion of biomass elements into the venue was a big step forward for the sector. The Energy Centre on the Olympic Park used a 3MW biomass boiler (alongside natural gas) to generate heat for the Aquatics Centre. It also had a combined heat and power plant (CHP) to capture the heat generated by electricity production, saving 1,000 tonnes a year of carbon emissions. The organisers weren’t able to go with their original plan for a biogas-fuelled Olympic torch however, due to the large amount of gas needed and the storage capacity that would be required.

Bioenergy Insight

Now, as the Olympics fade into a distant memory, the biomass industry needs to look towards the next 20% target. The EU aims to get 20% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. Although much of this renewable energy will come from wind, biomass will still remain the most important source, accounting for over half of the total. Officially the EU is on track to meet the target, but whether or not it is really achievable largely depends on the outcome of the ongoing debate regarding binding sustainability criteria. As with the liquid biofuels sector, most industry experts agree that the biomass industry has to be ‘sustainable’. It is what counts as being sustainable that is the bone of contention. As an example, if you replace a growing forest with energy crops, this can actually increase greenhouse gas emissions, at least temporarily. This is because there’s a time lag between the carbon debt that is created when a tree is cut down, transported and combusted, and the carbon credit that occurs when a new tree has grown to absorb as much carbon as the old one. The ‘solution’, therefore could be to introduce EU-wide binding sustainability criteria for solid biomass, something that has been proposed and delayed over and over again.

Those against the introduction of the criteria argue that it will impede the industry’s ability to meet the 2020 target, and may also lead to a rise in imports from non-EU countries, where the sustainability risks are arguably even higher. Forest owners also oppose the idea. They argue that there are already several well-established regulations and instruments in place to safeguard the sustainable management of Europe’s forests. Their main worry is that an EUwide binding scheme would impose relatively high costs on small- and mediumsized forest owners. But the pressure from environmental groups is already on. In the US the EPA has conducted a public consultation on how to account for emissions from biomass burning, and the European Commission is expected to release a report later this year. This is likely to identify which sustainability programmes will have EU approval and address whether EU-wide binding sustainability criteria is really necessary for solid biomass. One indication that the EU is veering towards the introduction of this criteria is the recent approval of NTA 8080 sustainability certification scheme. Although designed to certify liquid biofuels, it is also applicable to solid and gaseous biomass,

indicating that future mandatory or voluntary European sustainability criteria may be on its way. The biofuels industry introduced its legally binding sustainability criteria back in 2009, but this was by no means the end of the debate. There are now 11 different voluntary certification schemes with the ability to certify for this minimum standard, and the discussions surrounding indirect land use change are far from over. One might ask why stop at sustainability criteria for biofuels and biomass? Are the social and environmental impacts of sugarcane production any different to those caused by ethanol? Does the expansion of palm oil plantations to export vegetable oil have different social and environmental impacts to using these crops to produce biodiesel? With so many variables it is an issue that everyone is very unlikely to ever completely agree on. But we need to keep trying. The Olympics proved all the critics wrong. Something once deemed a waste of time and money turned out to be a roaring success. Let’s hope that some of that positivity will rub off on the biomass sector. By taking some of that Olympic spirit regulators, forest owners, producers and environmentalists should be able to work together to hit the 2020 targets in the most ‘sustainable’ way possible. l

August 2012 • 3


Bioenergy biomass news

New bioenergy hub created to further UK progress UK science minister David Willetts has announced the opening of a new £3.5 million ($5.4 million) research centre dedicated to making bioenergy generation more widespread. Researchers across six universities will work together at the Supergen Bioenergy Hub to explore how biomass plants can work more efficiently to help reduce carbon dioxide emissions. ‘The key thing about the hub is that it’s not just focused on technology but it’s looking at the whole system,’ says the research centre’s director Patricia Thornley of Manchester University’s Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research.

The hub will also focus on improving gasification technology which is used to make biomass a more efficient and less polluting fuel. ‘The problem is there are many different types of gasifier and they’ve all got different characteristics. It’s getting an interface that is sufficiently flexible to perform with that variation and yet sufficiently robust to protect the equipment without sacrificing efficiency,’ she adds. Other universities involved in the project include Newcastle University leading a project on improving gasifier systems, Leeds University studying biomass processes that remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and an Aston University project examining new approaches to creating bio-oil for transport fuel. l

Bioenergy projects set to benefit from new EU funding It has been announced that four of the five contenders set to receive EU funding for innovative low-carbon energy projects come from the bioenergy sector. The European Commission has said the eventual recipients will receive a share of proceeds from the sale of 300 million carbon credits from the New Entrants’ Reserve (NER). Money will be raised through the NER 300 programme in Phase III (2013-20) of the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) to fund renewable energy and carbon capture/storage projects. The NER 300 is expected to raise up to €1.5 billion ($1.8 billion), and projects could receive a maximum of 15% of the available capital. According to the Commission, Swedish bioenergy project Pyrogrot is the lead candidate, which is developing a plant

to produce 160,000 tonnes a year of biooil using forest residues as feedstock. Other bioenergy projects in the hunt for funding include a Swedish GoBiGas project, designed to convert low-quality wood into synthetic natural gas, and an Italian project for the conversion of lignocellulosic biomass from selected energy crops into ethanol. ‘The new funding made available for bioenergy in the European NER 300 call reflects the growing importance of biomass as a low carbon source of heat and power,’ says Jeremy Tomkinson, chief executive of bioeconomy consultancy firm NNFCC. ‘European production of energy from biomass is likely to grow by 30GW between now and 2035, as utilities invest in alternatives to coal and gas,’ he adds. Sixty-six renewable energy projects applied for funding from the NER 300 and 22 were eventually shortlisted. The Commission aims to decide by the end of this year on which projects will receive the help. l

Money raised through the European NER 300 will fund renewable energy and carbon capture projects

4 • August 2012

India to get another biomass plant through new MoU A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed by sustainable energy solution company Thermax and Ruchi Soya Industries to begin plans for a 1MW biomass gasification plant in Maharashtra, India. The project is being implemented by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), with assistance from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Global Environment Fund (GEF). It is believed Thermax’s Pune facility will execute the plant and it is hoped the pilot project will lay foundations for large-scale commercialisation of biomass power through increased access to financing. It is estimated that India currently has a cumulative biomass generation capacity of over 3,700MW and both Thermax and Ruchi Soya Industries will also be looking at ways to address barriers that slow down its deployment throughout the country. l

Bioenergy Insight


biomass news Bioenergy

News in brief New biomass plant at Spanish paper mill

Paper-based packaging company Smurfit Kappa (SK) has added a new steam cogeneration plant at its paper mill in Nevrion, Spain. The 21.4MW facility is part of a €20 million investment project by SK to produce energy from biomass as it aims to reduce fossil CO2 emissions. It also increases the mill’s energy generation capacity by 40% to over 120,000MWh. ‘The objective of this energy project has been to increase the mill’s thermal and electrical energy generation by increasing the installed equipment efficiency and the capacity of the forest waste treatment plant,’ says SK Nervion’s general manager Rafael Sarrionandia. The plant project has been on-going since 2009 and is part of a series of strategic and environmental programmes initiated by SK to reinforce its commitment to green energy and sustainable forest management.

Monticello biomass project seeks new location

A proposed biomass project in Monticello, White County is

seeking a new location as provisional plans were scrapped. The organic waste processing plant, to be built by a consortium of local farmers, will no longer be based on East Luse Road as rezoning from agricultural to heavy industry was required. The plant would use local fats, oils, food waste and manure as feedstocks. Natural gas and electricity provider Northern Indiana Public Service Co. (NIPSCO), who approved the potential purchase of any energy created by the digester in the future, will be keeping an eye on developments. The director of economic development in White County, Connie Neininger, confirmed the group is still ‘exploring all their options by analysing and reviewing sites’.

New biomass plant aims to reduce 80% of fossil fuel consumption A new biomass gasification energy plant has been officially opened at the US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. After a testing programme which included a 30-day endurance trial, third party emissions tests and a readiness review, the system was declared open by the DoE and ready for full commercial operation. The plant features a complete energy-fromrenewable waste system provided by Nexterra and input from technology and industrial

business Johnson Controls. The system will convert low-cost waste biomass into around 60,000lbs of clean burning syngas of saturated steam an hour, aiming to reduce fossil fuel consumption by 80%. The system will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over 20,000 tonnes per year, the equivalent of removing 4,000 cars from the road every year. ‘This project demonstrates that public institutions and private companies can partner to supply innovative clean energy technologies on a large scale,’ says ORNL site office manager Johnny Moore. ‘The biomass plant will also provide an opportunity for researchers to gather important data from a largescale biomass process.’ l

US DoE hands out multi-million grant for bioenergy research

The US Department of Energy has made a five-year $12.1 million (€9.8 million) grant available to the Donald Danforth Plant Science Centre in St Louis, US for bioenergy research. Researchers from Danforth will collaborate with other institutions to develop a model species of grass type Setaria Viridis as a sustainable fuel source. Several of the researchers claim that bioenergy grasses can provide a susatainable feedstock that could be grown on marginalised land. The other institutes involved are Washington State University, University of Illinois, Carnegie Institute for Science, University of Minnesota and Urbana-Champaign. The Donald Danforth Plant Science Centre currently employs more than 200 people, most of which are based in scientific teams.

The new plant will slash fossil fuel use by 80%

Bioenergy Insight

August 2012 • 5


Bioenergy biomass news

New agreements set to potentially extend global biomass crop growth US-based biomass energy project developer Patriot Bioenergy (PB) has signed two new agreements to expand its current biomass energy crop development. The international partnerships will have PB working with Uruguayan biological product research and development company Lage y Cia and Hapy, a leader in the science of inoculates that boost soil nutrients and plant growth in marginal environments for crop yield improvement based in Milan, Italy. ‘We are pleased to partner with both Lage and Hapy. Our research will positively impact our collective efforts to improve production efficiencies

of crop yields on marginal agricultural and post-mining land,’ says partner at PB Roger Ford. ‘ By increasing production yields we will produce more biomass per acre, leading to increased feedstock for biofuel production on marginal land, including post-mining land.’ All three companies are members of the European Community’s energy biomass research group ESSE, which collaborates on the use of non-food agricultural biomass energy crops. The goal is to provide essential research leading to the deployment and commercialisation of biomass crop production in rural regions all around the world. PB is also reported to be growing 20 acres of beets in Kentucky as pilot feedstock for heat and power at an ethanol plant it hopes to build on a former concrete plant in Williamsburg. l

Patriot Bioenergy will work with Lage y Cia and Hapy for biomass crop development

Feedstock suppliers alerted to new UK biomass plant A new £108 million (€138 million) biomass plant in Workington, UK that is halfway through its construction stage is now looking for energy crop suppliers. The plant is situated at the Swedish-owned Iggesund paperboard factory and is due to go live next year. Test harvesting on a farm near Carlisle has already taken place and 500,000 tonnes of willow will be needed a year to power the factory site. Any excess power the biomass plant generates will be sold

6 • August 2012

The new biomass plant requires half a million tonnes of willow

on to the National Grid. The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has singled out areas suitable for growing

willow and Iggesund staff will attend local agricultural shows to impart information to farmers about the scheme. Alternative fuels manager

for the project, Neil Watkins, was quoted as saying: ‘We’re trialling different harvesting methods and signing up people now because they have got to get applications in to DEFRA.’ ‘We’re not expecting Cumbria to become covered in energy crops, but we do believe this can be a convenient way for farmers to diversify and gain an additional source of income,’ adds Iggesund finance director Ulf Lofgren. ‘We can take care of harvesting and transporting the crop and will offer index-linked contracts so farmers can count on a reliable source of income for many years.’ l

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biomass news Bioenergy

ENCE awards construction contract for Spanish biomass plant ENCE has awarded engineering and technology group SENER a turnkey contract for the construction of its biomass power plant in Mérida, Spain.

Protests hot up against Australian biomass generator

The new facility will consist of a renewable energy generation facility, producing 20MW of power from energy plantation trees, including poplar and eucalyptus crops. The contract includes the design, procurement, construction and

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Over 500 residents have signed a petition protesting plans to build a large biomass generation plant in Yatala, Australia. A statement from the Yatala Residents Alliance said locals were fearful for their health if the proposed generation plant, which would burn green waste, goes ahead. ‘We’re not against biomass plants but this is too close for comfort and we don’t want its 30m chimney breathing over us all the time,’ says YRA representative David Osborne. Osborne alludes to the 12 schools and 11 childcare centres within a 7km radius of the proposed site that could also be affected. The generation plant had been proposed by Phoenix Power Recyclers in 2010 following an application to the Gold Coast City Council asking for approval to burn green waste 24 hours a day. l

Bioenergy Insight

commissioning of the power plant, and additionally the operation and maintenance during its first two years of operation. The plant is slated to be up and running by the third quarter of 2014. The generating efficiency of the plant is expected to be around 35%. l

GranulexTM High capacity hammer mill. Grinding capacity up to 30 t / h with industrial wood pellets and approx. 15 t / h with wood chips. Thanks to powerful motors of up to 400 kW. Minimum downtime thanks to fast and easy maintenance. Screens and hammers designed for replacement by a single person in less than 30 minutes. Less wear and tear of screens and hammers. Large screen area of 4 sqm improves the product discharge, reducing the load of the hammer mill.

Innovations for a better world.

August 2012 • 7


Bioenergy biomass news

Canadian biomass project passes initial environmental concerns A proposal to turn abandoned agricultural land in Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia into a biomass production site has overcome initial environmentalist concerns.

Energy crop project developer Pro Farm Energy and Minas Basin Pulp and Power want to grow elephant grass on the land and use it to produce electricity via a proposed $50 million (€39.7 million) plant to be constructed by Minas. Wilderness coordinator at the Canadian Ecology

Action Centre Raymond Plourde has been quoted as saying that the idea ‘looks like the kind of creative approach to diversifying our fuel mix that we need’. Plourde believes Nova Scotia has a lot of vacant, poor-quality farmland that is not productive for food growth and, while he needs to understand more about elephant grass and its production, he is pleased that the two companies are looking beyond Nova Scotia’s forests as a source of biomass. If it goes ahead, Minas claims the plant could produce enough power for around 5,000 homes and help reduce reliance on coal-based generation. l

Metsa Group strides on with bioenergy updates despite setback Finnish wood and pulp supplier Metsa Group (MG) is to consider increasing the use and production of renewable energy sources at its pulp mill in Kemi, despite another project falling by the way side. A feasibility study and review of production technology will be undertaken by MG as it considers putting in a gasification plant for biofuel production in place of a current fossil fuel-run lime kiln. The study will focus on technical concepts and investment options and is

planned to be completed by the end of this year. Another similar gasification plant has already been commissioned at MG’s pulp mill in Joutseno this summer, which will help it become carbon dioxide-neutral during routine operations. ‘On the basis of the results of the feasibility study, the aim is to strengthen our position as a pioneer of forest bioenergy efficient production and use,’ says MG forest fibre production director Ismo Mousiainen. However MG has abandoned plans for another Finnish biodiesel plant as research found insufficient profitability prerequisites in executing the project, which had been in review since 2009. l

African Renewables secures funding for subsidiary project

Punjab government to heighten biomass production in Pakistan

Biomass producer Takoradi Renewable Energy (TRE) was secured a $5 million (€4 million) credit facility to support its first biomass energy project in Africa.

The Punjab government has decided to push forward and devise strategies for meeting domestic and agricultural requirements through biomass and solar energy in cities and villages across Pakistan.

TRE, a subsidiary of African Renewables (AR), received the backing from the Standard Chartered Bank in Ghana which finalises AR’s Ghanian distribution chain following other deals with Verdo Energy and

8 • August 2012

Ghana Rubber Estates. It is hoped the investment will help AR to double biomass exports from Africa to Europe by 2016. It will also seek further investments of up to $30 million in order to replicate its projects across West Africa. ‘This credit facility gives us a firm foundation while allowing us the freedom to expand quickly elsewhere in West Africa,’ says AR COO Sonia Medina. ‘The Standard Chartered Bank has been extremely enthusiastic about our future projects from day one.’ l

Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif has said private sector biomass and solar energy projects would be encouraged in the next

budget and has asked both the energy and planning development departments to present ways of accelerating potential ideas. Sharif was quoted as saying that biomass projects should ‘be backed by a comprehensive promotional campaign and attractive subsidies offered to farmers so that the rural population could meet its energy requirements’. ‘Regional agriculture universities should also be included in any biomass projects so that our farming community can benefit from the research and support of agri experts,’ he adds. l

Bioenergy Insight


biomass news Bioenergy

UK business secretary opens biorenewables centre in York UK business secretary Vince Cable visited the University of York on 5 July to open the Biorenewables Development Centre (BDC). The purpose of the BDC is to integrate modern genetics with ‘green’ chemistry and processing techniques to create renewable chemicals and materials. It will support the UK industry in developing manufacturing technologies that use plants, microbes and biowastes as the raw materials for high value products. ‘This new centre will strengthen the UK’s position as a leader in the exploitation of highvalue chemicals from renewable sources. It will also help UK companies to access and capitalise on the global growth potential from these new technologies and products,’ says Cable. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has supported the BDC to the tune of £2.5 million (€3.2 million) and the European Regional Development Fund has also been a keen supporter of the project. ‘This investment is a reflection of the facility’s national significance and unique capability,’ explains BDC director Joe Ross. ‘The centre will greatly expand the opportunities for industry to source its raw materials from plants and microbes.’ l

Solid biomass-to-diesel pilot plant opens in Austria A new pilot plant heralded as ‘the world’s first direct solid biomass-into-diesel fuel operation’ has opened onsite at an ONV refinery in Schwechat, Austria. The BioCrack technology-powered plant is a joint venture by Austrian industrial company OMV and customised bioplant construction company BDI Bioenergy International, with support from the Austrian Climate and Energy Fund and the Federal Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology (BMVIT), and is set to meet growing European diesel demand. ‘The European fuel market faces considerable challenges: it must meet the growing demand for diesel and raise the renewable energy share in the transport fuel sector to at least 10% by 2020,’ says OMV CEO Gerhard Roiss. ‘Conventional first generation biofuels are not a long-term solution because the cultivation of the necessary raw materials competes with food production. Our refineries are well-positioned and the BioCrack technology that

was developed in partnership with BDI is a further response by us to the changing conditions.’ The second generation fuels will be extracted from biomass at the plant using waste products, like woodchips and straw from the agricultural and forestry sectors, but without the use of food. This means the fuels will not compete with areas that are needed for food production. ‘There are high expectations worldwide for second generation biofuels and this new pilot plant represents true pioneering work by domestic companies and researchers,’ says BMVIT minister Doris Bures, who helped open the plant . ‘It also reflects the success of our technology policy as we have consistently channelled research funding into environmental and energy technology, which involves the careful handling of resources, energy efficiency and climate protection.’ The plant, which has been an on-going project since 2009, opened on 2 July. A grant of €2 million from the Austrian Climate Energy Fund research and technology programme ‘New Energies 2020’ helped fund the pilot plant development. l

Welsh leisure centre adds biomass heat system Rhyl Leisure Centre will be the home to a new biomass heating system after planning permission was granted by Denbighshire council’s planning committee. The system, to be installed by E.ON Energy Solutions, will provide heat and warmth to the centre and its swimming pool. The structure will be 10.1m in width and stretch up 3.5m. ‘The scheme is a pilot project for the council and is part of an initiative to reduce the carbon emissions and energy costs associated with council run buildings,’ said a Denbighshire council spokesperson. ‘E.ON Energy Solutions has been appointed as the energy services company who will own and operate the biomass system and supply heat and hot water to the leisure centre.’ The proposal for the 600kW unit received further approval from planning officers who were said to be ‘satisfied with the emission dispersal rates’ provided by the system. l

Bioenergy Insight

E.ON Energy Solutions installed a biomass heating system at Rhyl Leisure Centre

August 2012 • 9


Bioenergy biomass news

Scottish energy minister to launch Highlands bioenergy initiative Scottish minister for energy, enterprise and tourism, Fergus Ewing, launched a new bioenergy initiative for the Highlands and Islands on 22 June. Around 50 bioenergy experts attended the inauguration of the Highlands and Islands Bioenergy Region Initiative, led by the University of the Highlands and Islands’ Energy Research Group, at the Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre. The initiative hopes to develop the sustainable use of bioenergy in the region and has attracted support from

the likes of the Highland Council, Community Energy Scotland, AVC Group and Highlands Birchwood. ‘We have strong research and teaching interests in bioenergy, so this is an opportunity to use that expertise to help communities and businesses make best use of our local resources and help build a positive international reputation for the region in this sector,’ says the University’s principle and vice-chancellor James Fraser. Ewing says he will take great pleasure in helping to launch the initiative as he believes sustainable bioenergy will help to meet Scottish government’s

heat and transport targets. ‘We are already seeing many other sectors, including whiskey and tourism, taking advantage of bioenergy benefits. By working together we can all make the most of our available bioenergy resources.’ Some of the actions the initiative hopes to achieve include: showcase best practice in the biomass heating sector, establish an applied research centre to promote innovation and address bioenergy needs and set up of cooperative wood fuel growing, harvesting, processing and supplying networks. l

Location of new biomass plant causes debate in ROI A proposed biomass plant in Killarney, Republic of Ireland that would provide a district heating system has drawn ‘reservations’ from local residents. Killarney Renewables (KR) has lodged a planning application for the plant but home owners close to the chosen site, which is the centre of town, claim the development would be unsuitable for the predominantly residential area. The area is currently zoned for light industry only and concerns have also been voiced that the 17m high plant would fall outside of that description. ‘Everyone agrees in principle to having a “green” heating system in Killarney, but definitely not at this particular site. People should not be expected to live close to something like that,’ says town councillor

10 • August 2012

The proposed biomass plant in Ireland’s Killarney has been deemed unsuitable by local residents

Niall O’Callaghan. ‘We spent nearly 18 months trying to procure a site and it was not possible to get one from the council. We looked at every possible site and this was the only one we could secure a deal on,’

says principle KR backer Con McCarthy. ‘If we had to lay pipes from an outside site, the project wouldn’t be viable.’ Killarney Town Council has given principle backing to the project, which would provide a communal system

of renewable heat and electricity via locally-sourced woodchips. KR claims 20 permanent jobs would be created upon completion of the plant and around 5,000 homes and businesses would benefit from it. l

Bioenergy Insight


biomass news Bioenergy

UK and Norway agree major new energy partnership UK prime minister David Cameron and Norwegian prime minister Jens Stoltenberg have agreed a landmark energy partnership between the two countries, designed to secure affordable and sustainable longterm energy supplies. Named the Norway-UK Energy Partnership for Sustainable Growth, it will see closer collaboration between the two countries across a wide range of energy activities including renewable energy investment and international climate change policy development. In addition, both UK and Norwegian companies have announced billions of

pounds of new investment with the potential to create thousands of new jobs. ‘The jobs and investments announced today highlight how vital the strong relationship between Norway and us is for our energy security and economic growth,’ says Cameron. ‘We look forward to strengthening our partnership further, driving investment into a diverse, sustainable energy mix that delivers affordable long-term supplies for consumers.’ Charles Hendry, the UK minister for state for energy, recognised the long-standing relationship between the two countries as ‘valuable and trusted’ and cited the investments and potential jobs announced by individual energy companies were ‘a clear signal as to the benefits of this partnership’. l

Additional funding secured by Topell Energy The Netherlands-based biomass torrefaction technology provider Topell Energy has announced €13 million worth of new funding to increase future production and plant sales. The Topell funding was led jointly by existing investor Innogy Venture Capital along with Yellow and Blue Clean Energy Investment Management. ‘The additional financing will allow us to ramp up production at our commercialscale demonstration plant in the Netherlands and to rapidly

grow our business through the sale of additional plants,’ says Topell CEO Jules Kortenhorst. Kortenhorst adds that Topell has also agreed a new partnership with UKbased Torftech Group to help build and improve Torftech’s reactors for torrefaction applications. ‘Having supported Topell from seed funding until today, we are pleased to see how it has developed from a startup into a well-positioned technology supplier in the European biomass sector,’ says Innogy Venture MD Crispin Leick. ‘We feel torrefaction based on Topell’s technology has the potential to change the biomass value chain as it is known today.’ l

The UK is collaborating with Norway for the Norway-UK Energy Partnership for Sustainable Growth

Bioenergy Insight

August 2012 • 11


Bioenergy biomass news

Vattenfall biomass stake linked to falling operating profits Renewable energy company Vattenfall has announced a SEK150 million (€17.9 million) drop in operating profits for the first six months of this year.

Profits coming from the renewables division fell from SEK227 million to around the SEK 80 million mark. This drop has been in part due to impairments and provisions of SEK500 million which was set aside for a minority interest stake in

a biomass project in Liberia. Poor UK wind conditions and lower average prices during the second quarter have also been named a factor. Net renewable sales for the first half of 2012 have jumped up however by 64% from SEK1.04 billion to SEK1.71 billion. l

Biomass intrigues Lloyds as it announces renewable investments Lloyds Banking Group is set to put £333 million (€423 million) into renewable projects as part of an overall £1 billion investment in the UK government’s new Infrastructure Plan. Lloyds says it has identified up to 12 renewable energy projects, plus nine social and economic infrastructure

projects and three conventional power plants, to invest in. Lloyds MD and global head of project finance Chris Heathcote was quoted as saying: ‘The areas that seem to be doing the most at the moment are offshore wind, including the off-take connections, and biomass is looking interesting, but I’m slightly cautious as it’s still early days for biomass.’ Heathcote also believes the £1 billion investment will help support the UK economy in the short-term. ‘By providing

this additional finance now, during the current economic cycle, vital projects can secure the financing required to progress so that the UK’s infrastructure is ready for when growth returns,’ he says. The Infrastructure Plan is part of the newly-formed UK Guarantees scheme launched by Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne to help those projects worse hit by the economic slump. The majority of the £40 billion beneficiaries will be in the energy or transport sectors. l

New investment for Northwest Canadian biomass industry A multi-year investment of over $5.7 million (€4.6 million) to create opportunities for the Canadian Northwest Territories sustainable wood biomass industry has been announced. The money for the initiative is split between the government of Canada's support of $3,746,000 from Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor), Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development

12 • August 2012

Canada (AANDC) and Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), plus $2 million from the government of the Northwest Territories. ‘The Harper government is committed to creating jobs, growth and long-term prosperity in Canada's North,’ says CanNor minister Leona Aglukkaq. ‘This project will create a new and sustainable industry in this territory and will generate jobs and business opportunities for First Nations communities. We are pleased to be working with our territorial partners as we invest in community economic development that promotes job creation and economic

An investment of over $5 million will help develop Canada’s woody biomass industry

growth in the North.’ It is hoped this will allow Northwest Territory communities to have increased control over

local forestry resources and therefore reduce dependence on imported fossil fuel as outlined in the Northwest Territories Biomass Strategy. l

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biogas news Bioenergy

Swiss army to benefit from new biogas facility

Wiltshire’s first biogas plant opens for business

Heat for a local training barracks for the Swiss army based in Bure, Switzerland will be provided by a new biogas plant.

The doors have opened on a new biodigester in Wiltshire, UK following 12 months of construction and trails.

Construction of the Bio Etique Energie plant by Germanybased Weltec Biopower has begun and it will be located in Jura. It hopes to generate an expected heat surplus of 2.6GWh which will be used to

heat the nearby barracks. Jura was an attractive location as Weltec was impressed by the abundance of fertile soil and the local agriculture industry. Feedstocks for the plant will include liquid manure, green and grain waste, and dung. Weltec is also confident of being able to supply around 3GWh a year of electricity to the national grid, enough to power approximately 900 homes, when fully operational by the end of 2012. l

The anaerobic digester plant is operated by Malaby Biogas and, after trialling feedstocks for around four weeks, is now fully operational and located at Bore Hill Farm. ‘We have now moved into the main building and the technology providers have completed all their pre-start testing work,’ says Malaby Biogas director Thomas Minter. ‘The end of the construction phase is a major milestone and having an operational plant to show after a year’s hard work by many local contractors is very rewarding.’ Minter adds that rotation tests and systems assessments were run following the powering up of the electrical systems for about a month. The combined heat and power

generator has also been installed and commissioned and the initial seeding process has been completed. The plant will look to process 17,000 tonnes of food waste a year and produce around 500kW of electricity for the national grid. It will receive bulk feedstock from both commercial and municipal sources, including local businesses like schools, pubs and restaurants. Minter believes it will take up to six months to get the plant up to full speed based on biology growth and the completion of operational milestones: ‘It is important that we build a stable and robust process to ensure this is one of the best running plants around.’ The biodigester represents Wiltshire’s first green biogas plant and it secured £5 million (€6.4 million) in loan funding from Clydesdale Bank and the Waste and Resource Action Programme, as part of the government’s £10 million loan fund for anaerobic digester projects. l

Moldovan biogas plant nears completion A biogas plant based at a bioethanol distillery in Hincesti, Moldova was launched at the end of July.

A new biogas plant will prove advantageous for Switzerland’s army

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The plant, designed by engineering company Zorg Biogas, helps the distillery cut down on its powerrelated expenditure. Zorg also supplied all the plant’s necessary equipment and

supervised its installation. The biogas is generated by waste from a nearby cattle farm and from distillery grain. The plant is designed to handle 200 tonnes of grain and 40 tonnes of animal waste a day, producing up to 7000 m³ of biogas. The plant represents another successful project for Zorg, which has also worked on biogas projects in Turkey, Kazakhstan, Russia and Latvia, among others. l

August 2012 • 13


Bioenergy biogas news

Cuba to reduce reliance on fossil fuels In Cuba, the government has set a new target for 16.5% of the nation’s energy to derive from renewable sources by 2020. Today, 3.8% of energy is produced from renewables

and Cuba is looking to utilise mainly forest biomass and sugarcane, but will also use solar, wind and hydraulic energy. By-products of Cuba’s sugarcane industry will be a major player in helping the nation achieve its goal, and could see biomass-based energy rise by 10% by 2013. In addition, plans

are underway for the construction of a 50MW wind energy park in the east of the country. The government is also looking into the possibility of building a further eight wind parks by 2020 for the generation of 280MW. A further 100+MW could come from hydraulic sources, with another 10MW

coming from solar energy, if the plans to build a number of photovoltaic parks during 2013 come to fruition. Cuba saved 31,150 tonnes of fuel and over 100,000 tonnes of CO2 emission last year as a result of its existing renewable installations, but still gets 95% of its electricity from fossil fuels. l

Camco SEA to build AD plant in Malaysia Clean energy project developer Camco International has announced that Camco Southeast Asia (Camco SEA) is to embark on its first biogas clean energy project; a 2MW anaerobic digestion plant using palm oil mill effluent (POME). The biogas plant will be built at a palm oil mill in Palong, Pahang state, Malaysia. When construction is finished —

planned for early 2013 — the electricity generated will be supplied to the Malaysian national grid through a renewable energy power purchase agreement, to be entered into with one of the country's utility companies. Camco SEA has acquired the rights to develop the project through the acquisition of Biopower Climate Care Holding, a fully owned subsidiary of Rhodia Energy GHG of France. Bringing this project to fruition is estimated to cost Camco SEA $44 million (€35.5 million), including the acquisition of Biopower Climate Care Holding.

The project is being developed under a 13-year build-own-operate-transfer agreement with the mill owner, which will begin when the plant is complete and operational. Under the terms of this agreement, the mill owner will provide PME feedstock free of charge for the entire period of the contract. MD of Camco Southeast Asia, Kent Carter, says he is 'very pleased with our acquisition of the Palong biogas project'. 'It strengthens Camco SEA's market position in the biogas development business, one of the fastest growing of

renewable energy development in the region,' he adds. Camco's CEO Scott McGregor comments: 'Strategically the biogas industry in South East Asia is a key sector to reduce emissions across the region and with our experience and resources available globally we are well positioned to lead this sector.' Malaysia has over 1,000 palm oil plantations and POME waste is significant. However the government is pushing for the conversion of this waste into power and recently introduced a renewable energy feed-in tariff to encourage this. l

World’s largest energy-from-waste plant gets go ahead Global supplier of environmental and energy systems Air Products is to build and operate what it is calling ‘the world’s largest renewable energy plant’. The Tees Valley plant, to be located at the New Energy and Technology Business Park, UK will use advanced gasification energy-from-waste technology

14 • August 2012

and have a capacity of 50MW. Air Products expects the plant to produce enough renewable electricity to power up to 50,000 homes. The chosen site location offers access and connectivity to both local and national electrical distribution infrastructures. It is also in close proximity to landfill disposal facilities where it will also hope to divert 350,000 tonnes of non-recyclable waste from landfill per year. ‘Our investment in this

advanced gasification technology is a natural extension of our onsite business model,’ says Air president John McGlade. ‘It allows us to further extend our position in the global energy market and continue to deliver on our commitment to sustainability. ‘The UK is committed to diversifying its sources of energy, strengthening its energy security and reducing carbon emissions. This clean energy technology model

is well-suited to these requirements, offering a sustainable solution to the UK’s waste management strategy.’ AP has secured the necessary environmental and planning approvals and the renewable energy facility is scheduled to enter commercial operation in 2014, with the site already being prepared. The facility will also create 50 permanent skilled jobs in the area and around 150 during construction. l

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New study believes UK anaerobic development needs major support A new study has suggested UK renewable energy output could be substantially boosted if the government banned all food leftovers from reaching landfills. In the race to be using 15% renewable energy sources by 2020, the report on the UK by independent thinktank Centre Forum estimates that food waste used in anaerobic digesters could grow the number of homes powered by renewable energy sources from 300,000 to 2.5 million

Food waste could significantly increase the UK’s production of renewable energy

by the end of the decade. Centre Forum believes councils should be given financial support to bring in separate food waste collections, which would

ensure a steady supply of viable feedstock and improve the 1.3TWh of energy the UK already produces via this method by 800%. The report also focuses on

the barriers which prevent anaerobic digestion (AD) methods from moving to the next step, including the difficulty many AD schemes face when securing financing, the struggle to obtain long-term feedstock supply contracts and an assumed confusion as to actual government support. The UK secretary of state for Energy and Climate Change, Ed Davey, was quoted as saying: ‘The government is committed to promoting an increase in energy from waste schemes through anaerobic digestion. CentreForum’s report offers some interesting ideas for how this increase can be achieved.’ l

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BUILDING EQUIPMENT THAT CREATES OPPORTUNITIES

August 2012 • 15


Bioenergy biogas news

New digesters to turn Sacramento food waste into energy Clean World Partners (CWP) and Atlas Disposal Industries, both of Sacramento, California, have just broken ground on a $13 million (€10.4 million) anaerobic digester and renewable natural gas fuelling station in south Sacramento. This is said to be the US’ largest commercial solid waste digester and phase one will be complete in the next few months. Atlas Disposal will collect 9,100 tonnes a year of waste from local food-processing companies, restaurants and supermarkets and convert it into natural gas, electricity and heat, as well as fertiliser and soil amendments for agriculture. In 2013, CWP plans to expand the plant to process 36,500 tonnes a year. It will be the company’s second commercial digester, joining one launched at American River Packaging in North Natomas in March. CWP was formed in January 2009 to commercialise a new anaerobic digester technology developed by

Ruihong Zhang of UC Davis. In January 2011, the company was acquired by Synergex Ventures, a subsidiary of Synergex International, a software and professional services company based in Gold River. Synergex president and CEO Michele Wong also serves as CEO of Clean World Partners. Zhang’s research focused on reducing the amount of time required to convert waste material into usable gaseous products. Zhang still serves as the company’s technology adviser. CWP’s organic waste recycling plant at American River Packaging’s headquarters was the first commercial highsolid anaerobic digestion system in the US. It was the product of a public-private partnership including the packaging company, Campbell Soup, Atlas Disposal, Otto Construction, UC Davis and Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD). CWP is the sole owner of the plant, which it paid for with private financing and a federal grant. A $1.31 million grant from the California Energy Commission helped with pre-development work. The $2.9 million plant co-digests 7.5 tonnes of food scraps — collected

One of the US’ biggest commercial solid waste digesters will generate gas, electricity and heat from over 9,000 tonnes of food waste

and delivered daily by Atlas — and unrecyclable corrugated material from the packaging plant, diverting 2,900 tonnes of waste annually from area landfills. It generates 1,300kWh of green energy each day — about 37% of American River Packaging’s needs — and produces an estimated 1,000 tonnes a year of compost and soil amendments for regional farming and gardening operations. The new digester in south Sacramento will produce natural gas to fuel part of Atlas Disposal’s truck fleet. Eventually, the fuel could be used by local school districts, transit and distribution companies. Sikich envisions the center in five years fuelling 100 to 150 trucks and up to 80 school buses. Diesel prices are at $3.80 a gallon, while an equivalent amount of CNG costs around $2.25. And natural gas-powered heavy-duty vehicles reduce smog-causing emissions by

more than 80% and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 10 to 15% over a comparable diesel vehicle. They are also as much as 90% quieter. When complete, the new centre will replace 1 million gallons of diesel per year with renewable natural gas, produce 2 million kWh of electricity per year, and divert 37,000 tonnes of waste annually from landfills, CWP officials say. Roughly 90% of the electricity produced will be used to power the digester and refuelling station, and the balance will be sold to SMUD through a net metering agreement. The state energy commission gave CWP a $6 million grant, and Atlas a $300,000 grant, to build and run the new site. The rest of the cost was covered by Synergex Ventures, through cash and securities. CWP hopes to start making money from the plants by early next year. l

UK biomethane group signs large Philippines deal UK biomethane company Gazasia has signed a proposed $150 million (€119 million) agreement with Philippines-based Aboitiz Equity Ventures (AEV). 16 • August 2012

The deal, which was signed in London, will see both companies jointly develop and operate organic waste-to-fuel plants across the Philippines, particularly for use in the transport sector. The deal is split so that Gazasia will provide technical expertise, specialised

equipment and project management, while AEV will provide the core funding and the access to core regional markets. At the time of writing AEV said the terms and conditions of the project will be finalised in a definitive agreement to be agreed upon by both parties in the near future. l

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biopower news Bioenergy

Texas homes new $500m biomass power plant US power business Southern Company has completed a 100MW biomass facility in Texas. The power plant is based on 165 acres, will primarily use wood waste from saw mills as a feedstock and is reported to have cost around $500 million (€412.4 million). A 20-year power purchase contract has also been signed with Austin Energy. ‘We recognise our on-time, on-budget completion of the nation’s largest biomassfuelled power plant,’ says Southern president Thomas

Fanning. ‘This is an important milestone for the community, the city of Austin and us, as the plant provides jobs and economic impact for Nacogdoches County and further diversifies the fuel portfolios of Austin Energy and Southern Company to strengthen the nation’s energy independence.’ It is said the facility will deliver $58 million in taxes to the county over a 20-year period and direct and indirect job impacts of approximately $5.1 million per year. The plant created more than 1,000 craft jobs at the height of construction and provides 40 permanent positions.

Southern Company’s new biomass powered plant is located in Texas

Urban wood waste, tree limbs and branches produced by storms and other

non-commercial loggingderived biomass will also be considered as feedstock. l

UK biomass power station cleared by EA A proposed biomass combustion plant in Trafford, UK has been ‘minded for approval’ by the Environmental Agency (EA). Low carbon energy provider Peel Energy’s plant, known as the Barton Renewable Energy Plant, was rejected

by the local authority last year, but in a recent statement the EA said: ‘Following a rigorous assessment process, we are minded to give approval to Peel Energy and grant an environmental permit, however there is still time for local people to submit comments or information with the EA in writing before 11 July 2012. It is the

Environment Agency’s role to regulate energy from waste sites and a draft decision to grant an environmental permit to Peel Energy will not affect the need for them to gain planning approval before construction of the proposed plant can go ahead.’ Peel Energy’s planning application for the 20MW biomass-fuelled power station was submitted to Trafford

Council in late 2010. ‘We are encouraged by the draft recommendation and the EA’s confidence that the facility will not harm the environment or human health,’ says Peel’s project manager Jon England. ‘We look forward to the EA’s final decision on the plant operating permit.’ l

IEA report claims marked improved use of global renewable energy in five years A new report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) has predicted a 40% jump in the global use of green energy by the year 2017. The IEA’s Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market

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Report 2012 believes the world’s dependence on fossil fuels will lessen as the use of biopower, wind, solar and hydro will grow. The document focused on eight common renewable energy sources,* including bioenergy because ‘as markets begin to mature with advancing technology, they will increase rapidly over the coming years

as businesses start to cotton on to their potential’. Bioenergy is seen as having the second-fastest growing rate at 8.3%, behind wind power which was posted at almost double that figure. The IEA also predicts that renewable energy per TWh will rise almost 60% by 2017, going from 1,160TWh between 2005 and 2011 to 1,840TWh,

with 710GW coming from new renewables. It also claims China will contribute 270GW to the new capacity, as well as 56GW for the US, 32GW for Germany and 36GW for India. *The other seven were hydropower, geothermal, both on- and off-shore wind, ocean power, concentrated solar power and solar photovoltaics. l

August 2012 • 17


Bioenergy biopower news

Investment in new carbon News in brief neutral electricity plant Biosev and Louis Dreyfus announced Renewable energy firm Infinergy has won a new contract to create a carbon neutral energy plant in the UK. The contract was won from Intermet Refractory Products and is worth more than £1 million (€1.2 million). Intermet will use the new facility at its Oughtibridge plant based near Sheffield and it will produce electricity from wood pellets rather than fossil fuels. Intermet’s system will feed renewable biofuel wood pellets into a furnace which burn in a clean way producing steam but no CO2 or toxins. It claims the technology is completely carbon neutral so no electricity is used from the

grid and it hits all government targets on clean energy. ‘We’ve been focusing on industrial and commercial uses for this technology, but we can also make it small enough to fit into a house. This contract is a big deal for us and the market potential is enormous,’ says Infinergy co-director and creator of the technology Steve Mongan. ‘Biomass pellets are a certified source of renewable energy and represent a far more stable fuel source from a cost perspective,’ adds Intermet’s operations director Julian Gray. ‘We need to embrace new technology such as this that has the potential to help us control our cost base more efficiently and therefore remain competitive in the markets we serve.’ l

to delay IPO trading

It has been announced by French agriculture company Louis Dreyfus Commodities that it is to delay the trading debut of its Brazilian sugar, ethanol and bioenergy unit Biosev. The Biosev board of directors decided the market was too ‘uncertain’ after a meeting held on 18 July. ‘The uncertainties on the financial market are the reasons for delaying the trading debut in the new market,’ revealed a statement, with Biosev president Kenneth Gold confident that ‘when the economic picture improves, there will be new opportunities to launch our IPO’. Biosev has 13 facilities across 330,000 hectares of land in Brazil and currently employs over 20,000 people, making it the second largest sugar, ethanol and bioenergy company in the world.

New electricity agreement for Hawaiian biomass producer Hu Honua Bioenergy has signed an agreement with the

Hawaii Electric Light Company to provide 21.5MW of power. The power will come from Hu Honua’s Big Island biomass plant and, pending approval from the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission, the agreement will last for 20 years. Big Island is located on the site of the former Pepeekeo sugar mill and a converted electric generation facility will be powered by locally grown biomass, such as eucalyptus. Hu Honua estimates the plant will generate up to 10% of Big Island’s electricity. The project is expected to take up to 18 months to complete and provide around 30 jobs once operational.

Virginian power plant ready for commercial push After four years of construction the US-

based Virginia City Hybrid Energy Centre went into commercial operation this July. The centre has been named as one of the cleanest coalfired power stations in the country as the $1.8 billion (€1.4 billion) circulating fluidised bed project also uses waste coal and biomass to generate up to 585MW of electricity. CEO of plant owner Dominion Generation, David Christian, was quoted as saying: ‘The use of low-cost waste coal and biomass will result in the unit having favourable economics, bringing savings to customers. The power station also has proven to be an economic booster shot for Southwest Virginia.’ During construction the Centre employed almost 2,400 workers and will directly employ 84 people as it aims to supply power to around 145,000 homes at peak times.

The plant will use wood pellets to generate electricity

18 • August 2012

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biopower news Bioenergy

New UK biomass agreement signed by Tilbury Green Power UK-based energy provider Tilbury Green Power (TGP) has agreed a new partnership with biomass fuel provider Hadfield Wood Recyclers. Under the contract Hadfield will supply more than 50,000 tonnes of wood a year to TGP’s new power facility in Tilbury Docks, Essex. TGP is approved to use up to 650,000 tonnes of fuel per year at the facility, including SRF and biomass fuel from virgin and recovered wood. It is hoped the facility will generate up to 60MW of electricity and power around 100,000 houses. ‘We have established facilities at the site which we are in the process of expanding, so it makes perfect sense that we supply the recovered wood element of fuel for the boiler,’ says Hadfield MD Geoff Hadfield. TGP is a subsidiary of Dutch company Express Energy Holdings UK. l

New biomass plant granted planning permission in UK Renewable energy developer Iceni Energy (IE) has had planning application for a new biomass plant near Snetterton, Norfolk approved. The plant will primarily burn cereal and oilseed rape straw to produce enough power to meet the yearly energy consumption of between 62,000 and 68,000 homes. IE engaged with over 2,300 local residents via a website, local exhibition and community newsletter and learned that 73% were for the proposal. The application was submitted in January. ‘Since we submitted our

application to Breckland Council, it received a further 50 letters of support from residents who have recognised the benefits the biomass plant will bring to the area. More letters of support were received than objection letters,’ says IE CEO Andy Hilton. ‘As well as providing 80 permanent jobs and delivering fuel, the plant will unlock Breckland Council’s plans to double 30 hectares of business and light industry by providing the grid connection infrastructure required. This expansion would then generate between 500 and 1,500 jobs by 2021 in the Snetterton Heath Employment area.’ Construction of the new plant is expected to commence in early 2013 and last around two and a half years. l

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www.williamscrusher.com August 2012 • 19


Bioenergy biopower news

Hearing date set for discussion on proposed Oregon biopower plant Community members of Klamath Falls and Keno in the US will get the chance to discuss their objections over a proposed new biomass plant set for construction by Klamath Falls Bioenergy (KFB). The Oregon Department of Energy has released a notice of contested case proceedings and those opposed to the idea will be able to voice their concerns at a hearing in a court of law this September. Vice president of KFB Bruce Thompson believes that, due to the length of the process and the chance the hearing’s findings could be appealed to the Oregon Supreme Court, production on the plant will not start until the beginning of 2013 at the earliest. ‘This is pretty exciting.

Klamath Falls Bioenergy’s plant will be up for discussion at a court hearing in September

We’ve been waiting for this for over a year. The process takes a long time, but now we can see the light at the end of the tunnel,’ he adds. The KFB biomass plant is expected to generate around 42MW from a wood-fired

incinerator used to create steam to drive its turbines. It is hoped the plant would produce enough electricity to power 35,000 homes. It is expected that a nonprofit group called Save Our Rural Oregon will submit

evidence for its claims that the plant will endanger local wildlife, decrease adjacent property values, harm local groundwater and increase the proliferation of damaging air pollutants in nearby neighbourhoods. l

Ayrshire Power postpones carbon capture and storage project Scotland-based Ayrshire Power (AP) has announced that it is withdrawing its planning application for a new multi-fuel power station with carbon capture and storage (CSS) facility in Hunterston, North Ayrshire. AP has taken this decision due to the level of uncertainty

20 • August 2012

surrounding the ability to secure the necessary financial investment to build the power station. The decision means that a public inquiry about the development will not now proceed this autumn. Hunterston is Scotland’s largest coal terminal and remains strategically important for the country, especially as part of the Scottish government’s low carbon energy policy combining deepwater port facilities and direct access to the UK’s rail network. Over

500 direct and indirect jobs are dependent on the site. ‘While we believe we have a strong case to succeed in the planning inquiry, we cannot proceed with the significant risk that the current power station design and fuel mix could not be funded and built in the necessary timetable following the grant of consent,’ says AP project director Muir Miller. ‘However, we remain convinced that this project could give Scotland a superb opportunity to

lead the development of full-scale carbon capture and storage, which will be vital in reducing global emissions and accords with government policy to cut carbon emission and back-up intermittent renewable energy supplies.’ Miller adds that the project would create a large number of new jobs and he remains ‘excited by the chance to develop a CCS cluster that could store over 1 billion tonnes of CO2 by 2050’. l

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Fire-hit UK biomass plant produces electricity again

Flexibility key as DP CleanTech signs biomass plant contract Biomass facility providers DP CleanTech has signed off on a new Philippines-based 12MW biomass power plant in partnership with Asea One Power. The plant will become part of an overall 42MW clean energy initiative to meet the increasing power supply required by the regions of Panay and Guimaras. The plant will be constructed in the Aklan province and hopes to add a meaningful contribution to reducing carbon emissions and creating new jobs. ‘We are pleased to be working with Asea One, as one of the pioneers in biomass energy

investments in the Philippines,’ says DP CleanTech CEO Simon Parker. ‘We have a shared vision to develop and use the most efficient and reliable solutions and technologies which will help to ensure that biomass energy becomes an integral source of economic growth and prosperity in the Philippines.’ DP CleanTech claims most of the plant’s feedstock will come from local sustainable agricultural rice crop residues, like rice husk and rice straw, as well as woodchips. However, the thermal combustion boiler has been further refined to ensure future fuel flexibility, meaning sugarcane waste and coco leafwood could also be utilised. The project is due to be completed by April 2014. l

A German-owned biomass power plant in Tilbury, UK is starting to thrive again following a fire which occurred on-site in February. Electricity and gas producer RWE Group claims the plant is again providing electricity to the national grid as one of its three units has returned to normal service. It is hopeful the other two units will be back online in July. RWE claims there was no single cause for the fire but that the movement of wood pellets may have been one factor. ‘Although it has not been possible to definitively identify the mechanism for the escalation, this is considered to be the most likely cause,’ RWE issued through a statement. ‘When wood pellets in neighbouring hoppers were moved, significant air drafts were created and, despite fire suppressant foam having been used to cap the affected areas, it is likely that the increased levels of oxygen caused the ignition of the smouldering dust.’ The Tilbury plant has been running on 100% biomass since 2010 and will continue to do so until its closure under the UK Large Combustion Plant Directive in 2015. l

Missing forest subsidies slow down Finnish biopower project A €200 million biopower project in Rovaniemi, Finland is in danger of being halted due to an energy subsidy issue related to the use of low-grade timber. The CHP plant was meant to use woodchips from surrounding Finnish forests as fuel, but the initial felling of fully grown timber is not subsidised by the European Union, unlike the 70% wood feedstock produced by stumps and timber leftovers in southern Finland. Rovaniemen Energia CEO Markus Tykkylainen was

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quoted as saying: ‘Without a proper support package in place, wood for energy cannot be harvested from the forests of northern Finland because of the long distances involved.’ He also feels that because of the current affordable market price of electricity, a decision on investment will not be anyone’s top priority. ‘The collapse of this large biopower project would be an unpleasant setback for our government as it looks to hit a renewable energy commitment of 38% by 2020,’ Tykkylainen adds. Technology director at the Technical Research Centre of Finland, Satu Helynen, says that stumps and leftovers would not be sufficient

Timber felling is not supported by the EU

enough to help meet the expected 95MW of electricity the plant would produce. ‘1.1 million m³ of timber was felled last year for

energy production and the forests have an annual growth in the region of 28 million m³, so the demand could easily be met,’ he says. l

August 2012 • 21


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technology news Bioenergy

New Rendac wastewater Pöyry announces change treatment plant to produce of president and CEO Pöyry’s board of directors has appointed Alexis renewable energy Fries as the company’s new president and CEO. Rendac Son, part of Vion Ingredients, and the Dutch water technology company Paques are to build a new wastewater treatment plant that will generate renewable energy. The anaerobic digestion plant will be constructed in Son, the Netherlands. Rendac Son will collect and process animal residual

material, such as carcasses and slaughterhouse waste, before the majority of it is processed into renewable fuel. This process produces a large amount of wastewater which will be treated in a conventional wastewater treatment plant. The anaerobic treatment will be combined with the Anammox process, in which nitrogen is removed. In a combined heat and power plant, the produced biogas will be converted into both electricity and heat. l

Fries will take up the position during the third quarter of this year and will be primarily based in Zurich, Switzerland, with an office also in Vantaa, Finland. Fries holds a diploma in physics from The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology of Zurich. He is currently CEO of EOS Holding SA in Switzerland, a company active in the energy sector. He has been a member of the board of directors of Pöyry since 2008 and will continue in this role. Pöyry’s previous president and CEO Heikki Malinen left his position on 13 June, with the chairman of the board of directors, Henrik Ehrnrooth acting as interim president and CEO until Fries takes over the position. Malinen will support Ehrnooth and Fries to ensure a smooth handover until the end of November 2012. l

Community biogas scheme in Ireland benefits from Landia chopper pump A long-shaft pump from pump manufacturer Landia is installed in a Beoffs-operated biogas plant in County Kilkenny, Ireland, and so far has helped to save around €60,000 a year.

An artist’s impression of the new anaerobic plant in Son, the Netherlands

The chopper pump handles heavy duty mixed waste, including slurries and fats for Beoffs’ AD plant. Renewable energy generated by the plant serves local residents, a village hall and the nearby schools run by Camphill Communities of Ireland. Landia’s pump handles sewage sludge, food waste and various greases, as well as dairy slurry from three local farms. It has been operational for over four years. The Beoff plant also benefits from income generated by a gate fee for the waste it takes in. l

Vogelsang launches new maceration system Hugo Vogelsang Maschinenbau has launched new solutions for maceration in wastewater engineering. For example, the new, easy-to-service RCQ series of the Vogelsang RotaCut features faster and easier parts for replacement. It is also possible to provide ‘condition monitoring’ of the wear parts during ongoing operations and by remote control. Additional maceration products include the robust X-Ripper twin-shaft macerators and combinations of pump and maceration technology for special applications. l

Bioenergy Insight

Landia’s chopper pump is installed at an AD plant operated by Beoffs

August 2012 • 23


Bioenergy technology news

Complete system for drying woodchips Fliegl has launched a new system for the drying of woodchips. The Ökodry features a feeding container integrated within the dryer. The installation is compact with a separate, dispensable feeding unit. Fliegl says its system is stable, and trouble- and maintenance-free. A moving floor in the bottom of the feeding container transports the woodchips into the drying area, and the filling height in the dryer can be regulated by an adjustable stiffener wall — according to the material which is being dried. In addition to woodchips, the system can also process

grain-maize and cereal. The air supply comes from an external blower. The hot air flows through a perforated sheet in the floor and drains the material. The drained woodchips can then be overloaded with a screw conveyor, with foreign material and dust removed by another smaller screw conveyor. According to Fliegel, the system can dry 30m3 of woodchips with a 45% moisture content in 24 hours, achieving a 10-15% moisture content. Despite this high capacity, the system is also efficient and consumes around 66% less power than other bunker or grain dryers, helping to drive down operation costs. l

Fliegel’s Ökodry can dry 30m3 of woodchips in 24 hours

New planting system reduces establishment costs New Energy Farms (NEF) has developed a new method of propagating energy grasses. Claimed to be able to reduce farmer establishment costs by 50% or more, NEF says that its new planting product for vegetative energy crops — CEEDS — enables the cost

effective scaling of perennial energy grasses such as miscanthus, Arundo donax and cane. CEEDS are small capsules that are established using automatic min till or no till planters, meaning no planting staff are required. The process applies to a number of energy grasses and is currently being evaluated by companies in the US and Canada.

NEF says it focused on making the establishment of vegetative energy crops as easy as other arable crops by first identifying how to reverse engineer a seed. ‘CEEDS represents a step forward in energy crop establishment. It has been many years in the development and solves all the issues that have previously made scaling energy crops difficult,’ says

Paul Carver, CEO of New Energy Farms. The existing range of NEF energy crops will be available in the CEEDS format commencing from 2013 to 2014, depending on the cultivar and region. The CEEDS planting system works alongside the NEF energy crop plantation management system Biomass Direct to provide a farm to end user service. l

Stern Brothers leads project financing for biochemical plant Independent investment bank Stern Brothers & Co. recently closed financing for Myriant’s Lake Providence, Louisiana commercial-scale bio-succinic acid plant. This first-of-its-kind transaction included taxable bonds partially backed by the USDA through its Business and Industry loan guaranty programme, a grant from the US DoE, and an equity investment by Myriant.

24 • August 2012

Continuing its involvement in the alternative energy and chemicals space, Stern Brothers used a USDA Business and Industry loan guaranty to credit enhance the project finance bonds, a first-time application of a Business and Industry guaranty to bonds, and privately placed Myriant’s bonds with institutional investors. ‘Structuring the transaction to maximise the value of the USDA guarantee using bonds expanded the pool of potential investors and

significantly lowered the cost of capital for the project,’ says John May, MD of Stern Brothers. Stern Brothers & Co., a national investment bank headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, was the placement agent for Myriant. Heartland Bank, an Arkansas state banking corporation, is the Lender of Record and Servicing Agent for the USDA and the Bank of Texas is the trustee. Krieg DeVault acted as transaction and placement agent counsel. l

Bioenergy Insight


technology news Bioenergy

The Rotochopper B-66 with tracks and transport dolly—the world’s most versatile biomass fuel processor. Switch from shredded hog fuel to short fiber pellet stock quickly and easily without the hassle of chipper knife maintenance, conversion kits, or interchangeable rotors. Switch from tires to tracks in minutes. Switch from grinding whole trees to wood chips to railroad ties to round bales to sorted C & D with a single machine.

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Bioenergy Insight

August 2012 • 25


Bioenergy technology news

Clyde, Redler and Schenck join forces In the UK, three bulk material handling and processing companies, Clyde Process, Redler and Schenck Process Group, have joined forces to better service both existing and new clients. As part of the agreement, Doncaster-based Clyde Process and Stroud-based Redler have become part of Schenck Process Group, whose UK base was previously in Stockport. Now all three companies are under one roof at Doncaster’s Lakeside. The partnership, as MD Nick Jones explains, will create a ‘one stop shop

for process technologies to meet the needs of a wide range of industrial sectors’. He continues: ‘The merger means we can now supply products from nine different brands across the Schenck Process Group. We make processes work and can respond to the needs of all kinds of businesses, from light industries such as food processing and pharmaceuticals to heavy industries such as cement and steel. And we’re increasingly working within the power industry as it shapes up to the challenge of the changing needs of the 21st century.’ The new organisation established its base in south Yorkshire due to the engineering expertise within the area. Doncaster also offers advantageous

Clyde Process and Redler are now part of Schenck Process Group

transport links and the potential for expansion due to the availability of land. Jones adds: ‘Having brought the companies together, our next steps include building a new factory and test house next year, so that we can further

enhance our ability to test new products and processes and consolidate our services through effective research and development.’ The company’s turnover increased from £26 million (€33 million) last year to over £45 million this year. l

Inwatech installs spherical gas storage tank Biogas plant manufacturer Weltec Biopower’s intermediate storage for raw biogas is an alternative to the costly biogas processing system with biogas feed-in station. Weltec has installed one of its intermediate storage facilities at a 1MW plant in Szeged, southern Hungary, which has been running since December 2011 and is proving beneficial. And Weltec believes external gas storage tanks will play an increasingly important role in the future. It says the extensive natural gas grid can also be used for biomethane storage, however prior to the feed-in the raw gas would have to be processed,

26 • August 2012

and this effort would not pay for all plant types. Therefore, Hungary, for example, is expanding its use of spherical gas storage tanks, which, in combination with the digesters, provide a high storage capacity. The company says that, in addition to the external storage tank, its digesters also offer additional storage space. The spherical gas tanks have a storage capacity of around 660m3. In addition, each of the two 3,000m3 stainless steel digesters provide a gas buffer capacity of 1,016m3 due to the design of the double-membrane roof. In these two digesters, cooperator Inwatech together with Zöldforrás Energia, a subsidiary of power supplier Démász, generates 440m3 of raw gas an hour. The generated heat will be used for air conditioning of

The 1MW plant in Szeged, southern Hungary has been running since December 2011

the on-site office buildings. Additionally, the exhaust heat will serve the complete drying of lucernes and pellets, and the heating of pigsties (300kW). Heat will be supplied for about 20 hours per day for nine months a year. The heat utilisation will

boost the plant’s efficiency to more than 80%, and the thermal energy utilisation will amount to about 9 million kWh/year. As the digesters consume about 1.2 million kWh of process heat, the surplus will be about 7.7 million kWh/year. l

Bioenergy Insight


technology news Bioenergy

Martin Engineering improves insertable air cleaner Controlling dust in industries such as biomass can create maintenance problems and operating costs of centralised dust control systems. Bulk handling materials company Martin Engineering says its updated air cleaner, the Martin Air Cleaner, is effective in applications which create significant dust. This insertable system filters the air inside the transfer point where it can easily return material to the conveying system, rather than carry dust-filled air to a central collector. The improved Martin Air Cleaner features the same small filter elements that were included in the previous insertable air cleaner. However, the system offers more flexibility to customers

and comes with two, three, four and six filters. Martin Engineering’s new unit does not collect airborne dust, rather it eliminates it by keeping fine particles in the load by returning them to the main material body. The company says this means the system is essentially cleaning the air of dust. A fan pulls the dustladen air through the filter elements. The air passes through the filter, leaving the particles on the filter element. Each filter element is then regularly cleaned by a ‘reverse jet’ of compressed air, which is injected into the filter element. This causes a momentary reversal of the air flow, dislodging the dust cake back into the main material body. The Martin Air Cleaner features a side access door, making the units easier to service and more readily available for regular maintenance. The design is

available in four different configurations to control airborne dust at belt conveyor loading points and other bulk material handling options. The filter features small elements which allow for a significant reduction in the air cleaner’s footprint, meaning the Air Cleaner can be installed in locations with limited space. The cleaner is automatic, self-cleaning and was

designed to remove dust from the air in conveyor loading and transfer points, silo vents, bucket elevators and screens, and thereby minimises the consequences of airborne dust and spillage. It also helps to prevent waste, avoid unnecessary maintenance and enhance efficiency, allowing bulk handlers to contain fugitive dust within the material stream. l

The Martin Air Cleaner from Martin Engineering

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August 2012 • 27


Bioenergy technology news

UK-manufactured pipework for AD plants will reduce imports and cut carbon emissions Polymer processing company Rehau became the first manufacturer to begin producing flexible district heating pipework in the UK when a new line at its Blaenau Ffestiniog factory, North Wales, officially opened in June. Rauvitherm is a pre-insulated PE-Xa pipe constructed with layers of PEX installation and a robust HDPE waterproof outer jacket. It simplifies and speeds up installation and because it uses Rehau’s Everloc compression sleeve jointing system which provides for a leak-free joint. Rehau can now manufacture thousands of meters of pipe a year for anaerobic digestion plants and associated district heating schemes. The UK relies heavily on imports of preinsulated district heating pipes. Therefore, Rehau believes that its new Rauvitherm pipes will help to reduce the carbon footprint of this kind of pipe, and offer improved service levels and a more flexible and responsive customer service. l

Rehau’s new Rauvitherm district heating pipe production facility at Blaenau Ffestiniog

New pump from Mono Novo Pump manufacturer Mono Novo has recently expanded its range of cavity transfer pumps. The EZstripT progressing cavity transfer pump enables the transfer of highly viscous, fatty or greasy materials. Its design allows for the pump to be quickly and easily dissembled, unblocked and maintained in-situ, turning an operation that has previously taken one day into a 30 minute task. It also reduces both on-going maintenance and whole-life costs. Mono’s EZstrip pumps can handle capacities up to 225m3/hour and are also suitable for retrofitting into existing installations. In Laupheim, Germany biogas producer Erdgas Südwest has been using

28 • August 2012

Erdgas Südwest increased its biogas capacity with the installation of a biomethane system from ETW Energietechnik

feedstocks such as maize, grass and whole plant silage for around four years. It has been supplying biogas to its end customers in the form of biomethane via the natural gas grid. The first biogas processing

plant was installed at the site in 2008. The pressure swing adsorption of Schmack Carbotech processes around 600m3 of raw biogas an hour — sufficient to continuously supply around 2,000 households with electricity.

However, in response to the growing demand for biomethane, Erdgas Südwest decided to expand its production capacity, opting for a biomethane system from ETW Energietechnik. Today, the plant in Laupheim generates biomethane with the PSA process control developed by ETW, which has some differences compared to systems established in Germany. These differences result in a high methane content in the product gas with minimal methane losses. Power consumption is also much lower, ETW says. Thus, 98% of the supplied methane can be delivered to the natural gas grid. The methane loss of 2% is returned to the biological process of the biogas plant via an after-burning unit in the form of heat. l

Bioenergy Insight


technology news Bioenergy

Static biogas analyser features three sample points

Synergy between Christiaends Group and Renergon International

The latest static biogas analyser from Geotech, a manufacturer and supplier of gas analysers, can now optionally monitor up to three sample points and hydrogen sulphide ranging from 50-10,000 ppm.

Dutch organic waste technology provider Christiaens Group and Swiss-German Renergon International, a producer of dry anaerobic digestion technology, are working together to generate renewable energy from waste.

With three sample points, Geotech’s new analyser enables AD operators to measure gas quality from more than one digester and check the output from each before the gas is mixed. They can then check mixed gas before it goes to the CHP engine. Tracking production at the source can help operators spot problems early and improve output. Landfill operators can measure

different gas field sections before the gas is mixed. By measuring the mixed gas going to CHP and to flare, Geotech says, operators can control both. Therefore, multi-point sampling allows operators to achieve more analysis from one static analyser. The GA3000 Plus can measure high- and lowrange hydrogen sulphide (H2S) in the same system but from different sample points — usually for biogas monitoring before and after desulphurisation. This inspects clean-up equipment performance and checks if filter material needs replacing or regenerating. Geotech says the use of two sensors set to high and low ranges means each can react quickly to appropriate H2S levels without reaction time delays or purging between high-level and low-level readings. l

The GA3000 plus static biogas analyser from Geotech

Bioenergy Insight

The companies recently formed a synergy when Christiaens Group acquired a minority interest in Renergon International. This deal will further establish both companies as technology suppliers on the global market. l

CPM develops oil lubricated rollers The market for desified biomass fuels is rapidly growing. CPM-Europe has developed an oilbased lubrication system for its pellet mill rollers. This newly developed oilbased lubrication system can be used instead of conventional greaselubricated rollers, helping to reduce operational costs and improve process control. The new system uses forced oil circulation to ensure continuous and full lubrication of the rollers. An oil-flow to each individual roller allows for continuous monitoring and control of the roller temperatures. As these oil flows are filtered, they rinse the bearings and remove contaminants

such as dirt, dust, moisture and wear particles. The oil lubrication system consists of a separate oil unit including storage, oil pump, filter and heat exchanger designed to deliver a controlled oilflow to each roller. Together, these features give a number of advantages, including improved lubrication of roller bearings, a reduced internal heat generation, the direct monitoring of contaminants from the rollers and the continuous removal of contaminants from the rollers. An oil-based roller lubrication system can improve load capabilities, reduce roller temperature, extend bearing life, and provide for a stable pelleting process, all leading to significant cost reduction, minimal lubricant contamination in the product, and improved control. l

August 2012 • 29


Bioenergy technology news

Areva acquires biocoal technology from Thermya

Haigh Engineering hosts open day for local farmers

Renewbale energies group Areva has acquired biocoal technology from French torrefaction technology company Thermya.

While AD is widely accepted and used within Europe, in the UK the practice is still at a relatively early stage.

Areva will add the technology to its bioenergy subsidiary and first use it in new Thermya plants in France and Spain before looking to build other facilities in the future. The biocoal technology helps produce plant fuel from biomass which can

replace fossil coal used in the production of thermal energy and electricity. ‘This acquisition strengthens our position in the field of renewable energies, and establishes us on the global biocoal market, which has considerable potential,’ says Areva president Luc Oursel. ‘The acquisition of this torrefaction technology, together with our subsidiary’s 35 years of experience, means we are now well-placed to capture a significant share of the bio-coal market.’ l

In order to educate the UK’s farming industry of the benefits of AD schemes, Haigh Engineering, a manufacturer of waste treatment systems, invited Hereford Agriculture Club to visit its site and learn more about the way in which AD technology can support day-to-day farming activities. Around 30 Hereford farmers

attended the open day at Haigh’s headquarters, where they listened to presentations and were taken on a full factory and site tour. Martyn Davies, technical sales engineer at Haigh said the event ‘was a superb opportunity for our visitors to see and learn, first hand, of the benefits of AD schemes. It was also a great platform for us as a business to listen to the needs of the farming community to better understand how we, as manufacturers, can assist in making AD a realistic option’. l

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Bioenergy Insight


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focusing exclusively on bioenergy. Updates will cover new pellet, biogas

For advertising queries contact: anisha@bioenergy-news.com • +44 (0) 203 551 5752

and biopower plants, new types of biomass, production

To submit company news please email editorial@horseshoemedia.com

technologies and the latest industry regulations.

Feature in the September/October issue of Bioenergy Insight magazine! Topics covered include: • Regional focus: Canada • Sustainability • Aviation fuel from biomass • BTL production • Moisture control • Feedstock preparation technology: screening/separation/centrifuges/ flue gas cleaning • Ash handling: conditioners • Feedstock focus: wood biomass Deadline for editorial and artwork: 5th October For advertising information and prices in North America contact Matt Weidner, +1 (0)215 962 0872, mtw@weidcom.com For the rest of the globe contact Anisha Patel, +44 (0) 203 551 5752 , anisha@bioenergy-news.com For editorial suggestions contact margaret@bioenergy-news.com, +44 (0)208 687 4126

Bioenergy Insight

August 2012 • 31


Bioenergy regulations

Nuclear disaster sparks Japanese renewable energy surge

T

he Japanese Ministry of Industry gave the go-ahead for renewable energy feed-in tariffs to come into effect from the start of July. Set to last at least 20 years, the new incentives will require Japanese utility companies to purchase electricity from renewable sources including biomass. There is an aim for 30GW of new renewable generation within the first 10 years, with tariff schedules set to be reviewed after every three. Cost recovery will come via surcharges to ratepayers with reductions for heavy industrial users and ratepayers affected by the tsunami. The Japanese government sees this move as a positive one to reduce the country’s dependence on nuclear power following the Fukushima nuclear disaster last year, when a combined earthquake and tsunami took out three of the plant’s reactors. That disaster changed the national debate over energy policy almost overnight according to a report in the Japan Times: ‘By shattering the government’s long-pitched safety myth about nuclear power, the crisis dramatically raised public awareness about energy use and sparked strong anti-nuclear sentiment.’ As the country only has one nuclear reactor left running, it has now temporarily expanded its dependency on fossil fuels

32 • August 2012

Japan is now giving renewable energy a serious chance

from 85% to 93%. Due to having almost no domestic fossil fuel sources to draw upon, Japan is currently importing 98% of these resources to look after demand. Only 1% of the country’s power supply is currently being generated by renewable sources, but it has been estimated that close to $30 billion (€24 billion) in clean energy investments could potentially be unlocked by this fresh approach from the Japanese government. Biogas feedstock is earmarked from sewer sludge plus animal and municipal waste, while solid fuel incineration and wood products will create biomass as part of the overall

renewable energy scheme. Despite being a part of the new tariffs, there is only one considered tranche for biogas when compared to three for hydro and two each for wind, solar and geothermal. However, at the time of writing, Japan’s biogas tariff will be the highest in the world at €0.396KWh ($0.521KWh), overtaking Switzerland which offers €0.305KWh. One concern that has been mooted by many commentators on this proposal is the potential higher electricity bills that may be facing the consumer. Under the system, utilities will be required to buy electricity generated by renewable sources at fixed rates. The costs will most likely

be passed on to the public so, especially for new suppliers, a lot will hinge on the purchase price of electricity set by the government. The move by the Japanese government has been applauded by renewable energy advocates all over the world, however. The stance does resonate on a global scale as Japan has followed both Chinese and German examples of using feed-in tariffs to ease reliance on fossil and nuclear sources of energy. China backed its wind generated energy sector to the tune of almost 19,000MW of new wind turbines, and Germany’s Advanced Renewable Tariffs system has, since the year 2000, produced rapid growth in biogas, wind and solar energy industries. But Japan Renewable Energy Foundation senior researcher Shuta Mano has been quoted as saying that all prices involved must be ‘appropriate’ for the tariffs to be successful. ‘The prices are too high when compared to other countries, especially for solar PV and biomass. They must be reviewed and adjusted to become appropriate based on actual newly-installed capacities. In my opinion, the current purchase price categories are too rough so, in the coming revision, the rules for priority access have to be guaranteed in order to promote a stable development of renewable energies.’ l

Bioenergy Insight


regulations Bioenergy

Clean energy initiative enters phase two

T

he second phase of the US-Canada Clean Energy Dialogue (CED) has been announced and has received positive comments from both countries’ renewable fuel associations. The CED was established in 2009 by President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper as a way to strengthen bilateral collaboration on clean energy technologies and solutions for lower greenhouse gas emissions. Under Phase Two of the CED, working groups covering Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), the Electricity Grid (EG) and Clean Energy Research and Development (CERD) will continue building on their initial work from Phase One. However, in addition, a greater emphasis will be placed on energy efficiency to take advantage of what the CED calls ‘an expanded array of opportunities’. To that end the CERD will be renamed the Clean Energy R&D and Energy Efficiency Group. A letter sent out to Canadian ministers wrote: ‘On behalf of the biofuels industry in both the US and Canada, we commend the CED for continuing the vital partnership between our nations in developing and deploying clean energy technologies. The letter was co-signed by both association presidents, and the pair went on to reaffirm the contribution biofuels has already made to each nation’s energy, environmental and economic goals.

Bioenergy Insight

New horizons During CED Phase One the CCS group undertook a number of initiatives to speed up the deployment and development of carbon capture and storage, including: • Spending a combined $5.2 million (€4.1 million) to expand work on an International Energy Agency CO2 monitoring and storage project • Advancing research on next generation CCS technologies like chemical looping and pressurised oxy-combustion • Hosting two conferences for the purpose of ‘knowledgesharing among relevant parties in both countries • Large-scale cooperation on regulatory issues, CCS projects and CCS demonstration projects. For Phase Two the CCS group will focus on a continuation of technical collaboration in R&D and demonstration projects, open up clearer communication channels for dialogue on CCS policies and practices, and further engage with the public to allow it to understand CCS and its role. The EG group has, since 2009, held many bilateral events and submitted foundation papers on key issues dealing with the long-term transition to a modernised electricity grid, including: • A forum in 2010 focusing on ‘Building for tomorrow: training and recruitment issues in the electricity sector’ • A Smart Grid Policy Leaderhsip Forum to discuss key policy issues

raised by the transition to a smart electric grid • Foundation papers on policy and regulatory issues surrounding energy storage, the smart grid and renewable portfolio standards. Moving forward the EG group will look closely at the deployment of offshore renewable energy technologies, the advancement of smart grid technologies, the better integration of power storage technologies and the increasing opportunities for trade in clean electricity. Before its name change, the CERD worked to bring together Canadian and US experts, in areas like clean engine and vehicles, future generation biofuels and energy facilities, to discuss ideas and share information. Born from those discussions were, among others: • Workshops that strengthened bilateral collaboration in lightweight vehicles, biofuels, algal biomass and GHG emission initiatives • Exchange of information between US and Canadian R&D facilities and collaborative research on biomass pyrolysis • Expansion of the Energy Star labelling programme on appliances and equipment to raise public profile and harmonise North American markets • Collaboration on building an energy benchmarking system to manage consumption and reduce greenhouse gas emissions across commercial and institutional buildings. The now renamed group will spread its wings and delve into

more sectors including marine energy, as well as exploring deeper into advanced biofuels, transportation, energy efficiency and buildings and communities. Fuelling the future The CRFA and RFA are both keen to see advanced biofuels getting the attention they feel it deserves via the CED, and they believe the two countries working together would speed up the use of higher level ethanol and other biofuels blends, as well as bringing new technologies to the market. ‘Simple actions such as more collaboration between our nations’ fuel standards bodies, ASTM and CGSB, to approve higher ethanol and renewable fuel blends for public use more rapidly and the adoption of sound, scientificallyjustified greenhouse gas accounting would dramatically improve the prospects for more immediate growth and innovation in clean energy production,’ Thurlow and Dinneen wrote. ‘Likewise, continued support for stable and forward-looking public policy encouraging the production and use of renewable fuels will be critical as these new technologies emerge.’ The CED says all the mentioned initiatives are set to be implemented over the next two years, with periodic reports on progress as they move forward. l

For more Information:

A full breakdown of CED Phase One and Two initiatives can be found on www.climatechange.gc.ca

August 2012 • 33


Bioenergy finance A new scheme offering advice on tax efficient financing for renewable energy generation equipment could prove invaluable to today’s challenging economic climate

Energy efficiency made easy

B

iomass energy technologies are well established and their use has been widespread across mainland Europe, with the UK showing particularly strong interest. The value of the technology does vary depending on site circumstance, with especially strong cases to be made for those that are off the gas grid, or that produce a waste product which can be used as a biofuel. A recent report by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) explains that by 2020 the UK could have access to about 1,800 petajoules (PJ) of bioenergy supply, which includes international and domestic biofuels and biomass. This would be equivalent to 20% of current primary energy demand in the UK, and would meet the level of demand estimated in the UK Renewable Energy Strategy. Despite the increasing interest in biomass, stagnant economic development has eroded credit availability, resulting in negative customer confidence in new investments. According to the latest Bank of England report, the annual rate of growth in the stock of lending to UK businesses was negative and the stock of lending to SMEs has continued to contract in the first quarter of 2012. It is in light of this credit squeeze that the Carbon Trust and Siemens Financial Services (SFS) have joined forces and

34 • August 2012

launched the Energy Efficiency Financing scheme (EEF) to help businesses raise finance for energy-efficiency investments. Making biomass investment affordable The EEF scheme is designed to provide tax efficient financing for renewable energy generation equipment, where the expected energy cost savings are arranged so

the ability to integrate the financing offering in their overall customer proposition. Along with the EEF scheme, customers can expect to benefit from government initiatives such as the recently launched Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). Set up in a bid to encourage businesses to install renewable heat technologies, customers who are eligible for the RHI can earn a fixed income for every

The annual rate of growth in the stock of lending to UK businesses was negative and the stock of lending to SMEs has continued to contract in the first quarter of 2012 that they offset the cost of the equipment, effectively meaning the equipment pays for itself. Moreover, in some cases, the monthly savings can be greater than the monthly costs, therefore businesses taking advantage of the scheme can be in effect cash positive every month of the project. The scheme offers customers an alternative to outright cash purchase, and helps biomass suppliers close their discussions with customers faster as efforts can be focused on providing the best solution for the customer’s needs and achieving the desired cost savings, rather than the upfront capital outlay. The scheme also gives recognised suppliers

kWh of heat they generate. In addition to this, power plant operators can also receive Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs) for the portion of their output that is biomass-fuelled — a significant economic incentive for cofiring (biomass with coal). Promoting growth of biomass Using biomass in the right circumstances has the potential to deliver considerable and cost-effective carbon savings, particularly for commercial and industrial applications. Biomass heating, for example, can offer significant benefits for users, including operational fuel cost savings and reduced fuel price

volatility. It can also stimulate local economic activity by creating fuel supply chains and making use of resources that would otherwise be treated as waste and sent to landfill. Developing an infrastructure that will ensure sufficient supplies of wood fuel of suitable grade will be one of the many measures that can be taken to encourage the deployment of biomass boilers. A study conducted by the Forestry Commission reveals that much of the UK’s woodland is under-managed or not managed at all. Bringing these woodlands back into sustainable management would offer numerous benefits in addition to opening up a significant renewable wood fuel resource. In view of the Climate Change Act 2008, which requires 80% reduction in emissions by 2050, biomass will play a pivotal role in reducing the UK’s carbon footprint. For businesses wishing to tap into biomass energy, the ability of suppliers to provide professional advice and consultancy about the running and maintenance of the technology is as important as the availability of a finance option in their sales proposition, especially given the persistent tight credit conditions. l

For more information:

This article was written by Myles McCarthy, managing director of Carbon Trust Implementation Services, www.energyefficiencyfinancing.co.uk

Bioenergy Insight


biopower in South America Bioenergy Wind and solar projects are powering ahead in South America, but for the time being biomass operators are still lagging behind

Biomass not yet taking its fair share by Amy McLellan

B

razil is already a world leader in renewable power, with 83% of its electricity coming from renewable energy (mainly hydro and the burning of bagasse). Yet many believe the country’s biomass potential is still largely untapped. Celso Marcelo Oliveira, president of the Brazilian Association for Industry Biomass (ABIB), says the country has four advantages: its land availability, the climate, the workforce and a tradition of handling biomass. What’s more, the ABIB

point of end use for efficient processing rather than chipping them at the roadside as is currently the case.

an 18-year supply contract. The R$265 million (€105 million) project — which includes a R$1.5 million spend on social-environmental causes to support local communities — is the first in Brazil to use biomass for energy in a petrochemical company. Whereas in Europe, one would expect a project of this kind to be supported by various government grants and tax breaks to be viable, this project has no such support, says ERB’s industrial development manager Luiz Pellegrini. ‘In Brazil there are no such

A biopower first in petrochemicals Despite these vast natural resources, Brazil’s industries are still largely dependent on expensive natural gas (about $14 (€11) per MBTU compared to $9 in the UK and under $3 in the US). Companies are keen to reduce their reliance on gas and are looking for biomass solutions to reduce their

Production (million tonnes)

Estimated residues

Agricultural waste (cereals and sugarcane) Forestry residues Sugarcane bagasse Sugarcane straws & leaves

776,299,153 205,010,012 501,231,000 501,231,000

547,306,628 157,992,556 140,344,680 150,369,300

Hectares

Corn 13,767,400 Sugarcane 7,080,920 Rice 2,890,930 Cassava 1,894,460 Wheat 1,853,220 Citrus 930,591 Coconut 283,205 Grass 140,000 reckons there is plenty of scope for its agricultural and forestry sectors to become much more efficient in their handling of their residues. Improved bundling of forestry residues could reduce forwarding costs by about 20% while chipping costs could be halved by transporting unprocessed or unbundled residues to the

Bioenergy Insight

energy bills and their carbon footprint. Dow Chemicals, for example, is working with Sao Paulo-based Energias Renovaveis do Brazil (ERB) to use eucalyptus woodchips to displace half its natural gas requirements at its complex in Candeias, some 50km from Salvador. This adds up to more than 8,300 hours per year under

Source: ABIB

Brazil’s agri-industry

incentives from the government because we don’t need it,’ says Pellegrini. ‘It’s because of the yields of biomass we have, they are just so much bigger that costs are so much lower.’ Keeping a lid on costs is key. ERB’s business model involves developing integrated biomass co-generation projects for industrial customers, from planting the eucalyptus to the biomass conversion and building the plant to selling the steam. This vertical chain helps the company keep control of costs, says Pellegrini. The project includes the installation and operation of a new CBC-Mitsubishi boiler with production capacity of 150 tonnes per hour, and a

Source: ABIB

Brazil harvest 2010-2011

biomass processing unit with wood chopping capacity of 80 tonnes per hour. Produman Engenharia has been awarded the EPC and work is already underway with a view to full commercial start-up in 2013. ERB has 10 million hectares of reforestation eucalyptus, 100% dedicated to the project, lying between 80 and 200km from Dow. Pellegrini stresses the sustainability of the plantations and that there’s no competition with food production. ‘Dow did a thorough analysis of our project and a year from now we should have certification,’ says Pellegrini. ‘It’s important to have an area that doesn’t compete with food production and doesn’t destroy native forest so we focus on degraded areas that aren’t suitable for food production.’ The company is eyeing other projects in the area and is also investing in R&D to look at other biomass models, such as energy grasses. Wood pellets for export are also on the radar. ‘We are following that market very closely but it’s for the future,’ he says, adding that the company feels it can cope with the ‘very tough’ environmental and sustainability criteria demanded by European utilities. Financing remains a challenge Brazil has the resource base, the demand and the technological know-how to derive much more of its energy base from biomass. But it also needs investment to make it happen. And investors remain

August 2012 • 35


Bioenergy biopower in South America wary. French agri giant Louis Dreyfus Commodities, for example, recently delayed the IPO of its Brazilian sugar, ethanol and bioenergy unit Biosev, citing uncertainties in the financial markets. Biosev has 13 facilities across 330,000 hectares of land in Brazil, making it the second largest sugar, ethanol and bioenergy company in the world. The company, which has a 1,000GWh cogeneration export capacity from the burning of sugarcane bagasse, had sought to raise up to $548 million through the public offering but just before pricing the deal was pulled, signaling a waning of investor appetite for Brazilian IPOs. Despite the jitters in the IPO market, Brazil’s economy is booming. Investors report frantic construction activity as infrastructure is upgraded to keep pace with growth. ‘Everywhere you look there are cranes,’ says one Canadian investor. ‘The ports are congested because there is just so much activity. This is a country that’s developing fast.’ Argentina falls back off the radar Not everywhere on the continent is faring so well. Argentina, having recovered well from the sovereign debt crisis of 2001 that crippled its economy for a decade, is now heading back to basketcase territory. The government’s expropriation of oil and gas company YPF, 51% owned by Spanish oil giant Repsol, sent shock waves through the international investment community. Belligerent talk threatening action against British companies drilling for oil and gas in the waters off the disputed Falkland Islands have added to concerns. This is not helpful given that Argentina’s energy sector, hamstrung by strict energy tariffs imposed in the wake of the financial crisis, has long struggled to attract private investment to help it meet demand.

36 • August 2012

Edesur, the country’s secondbiggest power distributor part-owned by Italy’s Enel and Brazil’s Petrobras, is drowning in debt. There are fears Buenos Aires may nationalise the electricity companies, as it did with YPF. Given this backdrop, there is not likely to be any investor interest in Argentina’s power sector, be it fuelled by biomass, hydro or fossil fuels (the country is reckoned to have world-class deposits of shale gas but it will need billions of dollars of investment by major international companies to unlock this potential). Uruguay and UPM Uruguay has a booming forestry sector and one of its by-products is biopower. State power company UTE and Finnish forestry giant UPM plan to bring online a 50MW biomass plant in 2015 to feed into the national grid. The project is linked to expansion of UPM’s existing pulp mill. The Finnish group already provides about 4% of Uruguay’s electricity demand. According to press reports, another 400MW of biomass capacity is planned to come online by 2015. This, plus its expanding wind energy, will make Uruguay one of the world’s biggest per capita consumers of renewable energy. Chile sets ambitious renewable targets Chile is keen to develop its renewable energy mix to increase energy security (it imports 75% of its energy needs) and meet rapidly growing demand. In February this year the government launched its 2012-2030 National Energy Strategy, which includes the target of 20% renewable energy

by 2010, up from the current mandate of 5% and 10% by 2024. According to analysts at Ernst & Young, if passed, this will be Latin America’s most ambitious renewable energy law and could spur as much as $10 billion in investment to develop at least 4GW of renewable power capacity by 2020. The bulk of current developments are all targeting wind (some 220MW under construction and analysts forecast new capacity totalling 1GW–1.5GW will be installed in the period 2012–16), but there is scope for other renewable energy sources to add to the mix, including biomass. There is around 96MW of biomass and biogas across the country’s central and northern grids with another 279MW of cogeneration plants. Most of this is related to the lumber industry, supplying its own power needs from forestry residues. Some investors say the country’s forestry and pulp industries make it difficult to access biomass resources for further power projects, despite the potential to help meet that ambitious 2020 target. Peru’s emerging ethanol business Peru is an emerging ethanol player. In 2010, 80,000 hectares of sugarcane plantations were in operation, largely grown for sugar. But the government is keen to encourage the development of an ethanol industry to meet its 7.8% mandatory ethanol blend in petrol. Demand for ethanol in the Peruvian domestic market could reach over 30 million gallons per year as its economy continues to grow at a fast pace, and there is also the potential for duty-free exports into the EU and US under

existing trade agreements. At the moment, this is a fledgling industry, with AIMquoted Maple Energy becoming one of the larger players in a small market with its $280 million newbuild 35 million gallon ethanol plant in the Piura region on the country’s northern coast. Maple, which is also quoted in Lima, has also brought online a 37MW power plant fuelled by bagasse, which is powering the associated ethanol plant and in Q3 2012 should start delivering electricity into the national grid (about 17MW is expected to be fed into the grid). As with ERB’s biopower project in Brazil, the company is following a vertically integrated production model to ensure control of feedstock supply and costs. Biopower is already playing a role in South America; this is a richly resourced continent and people here have been burning wood and other crops for thousands of years with ethanol-power Brazil one of the leaders in using its biomass resources to fuel its economy. But, it’s fair to say, the continent’s potential is far from being fully realised — only three countries in South America make it into the top 40 on Ernst & Young’s renewable energy country attractiveness indices. There are a number of reasons for this: problems raising finance to put into projects (and in the current economic climate, it is a problem that does not just apply to South American biomass projects), and difficulties accessing long-term and reliable supplies of biomass (whether due to entrenched interests in the forestry and pulp industries or logistical challenges). l

Ernst & Young’s all renewables index, May 2012 Country

Ranking

All renewables

Biomass

Top scoring renewables

Brazil 9 50.4 54 Wind, biomass Argentina 37 34.9 32 Wind Chile 38 34.4 29 Wind, solar Source: Ernst & Young. Note: By contrast the top three countries are China, US and Germany, with respective all renewables scores of 70.4, 67.5 and 65.1 with biomass scores of 60, 62 and 68

Bioenergy Insight


plant update Bioenergy

Plant update – South America Petrobras Biocombustível and Grupo São Martinho

KDM Energia

Location Goiás, Brazil Location Alternative fuel Electricity and ethanol Alternative fuel Capacity 600,000MWh of electricity Capacity 700 million litres of ethanol Feedstock Feedstock Sugarcane Construction / expansion / Construction / expansion / The companies are increasing acquisition acquisition the milling capacity at the Boa Vista plant to 8 million tonnes of Project start date sugarcane Completion date Completion date 2014 Comment Investment R$520.7 million (€208 million)

Loma Los Colorados Landfill, Chile Biogas for renewable energy 18MW Landfill waste Expansion of bioenergy capacity from 8.4MW to 18MW. This is enough for 75,000 homes 2012 2014 Six additional 1.4MW GE Jenbacher engines will be added to the existing seven

Suzano Energia Renovavel Location Alternative fuel Capacity Feedstock Construction / expansion / acquisition Project start date Completion date Investment Comment

Maranhão, Brazil Wood pellets Two pellet plants producing 1 million tonnes of wood pellets each Eucalyptus clones Construction September 2011 (announced) 2014 R$1 billion (€402.6 million) Suzano announced back in 2010 that it will invest $800 million (€650 million) in the construction of five pellet plants and other energy projects by 2020

Timber Creek Farms Industries Location Relocating from Canada to Pien, Brazil Alternative fuel Pellets Capacity 90,000 tonnes Feedstock Wood resources Project start date September 2011 (announced) Completion date Shipping began at the beginning of 2012 Comment CellMark Energy is handling Timber Creek Farms’ sales and marketing functions, as well as its logistics functions

Maple Energy Location Alternative fuel Capacity Feedstock Construction / expansion / acquisition Completion date Comment

Peru Renewable power and ethanol 37MW Sugarcane Construction Mid- 2013 Maple Energy plans to increase its 37MW power output by the end of this year

Abengoa Location Paysandú, Uruguay Alternative fuel Renewable power and heat, ethanol and DDGS Capacity 8MW renewable power 70 million litres of ethanol 50,000 tonnes of DDGS Feedstock Sorghum, maize, barley and wheat Construction / expansion / Construction acquisition Project start date October 2011 (announced) Completion date 2013 Investment $120 million (€97 million) Comment The electricity and heat will be used in the bioethanol production plant

The Colleman Group, through its subsidiary Wood Brazil Location Santa Catarina, Brazil Alternative fuel Pellets, woodchips and briquettes Feedstock Eucalyptus and pine forestry Construction / expansion / Construction acquisition Project start date March 2012 (announced) Investment R$30 million (€12 million) Comment The new plant will export solid fuel to Europe and Asia

Bioenergy Insight

*This list contains major plant projects in South America, including the information available at the time of printing. If you would like to update or list any additional plants in future issues please email keeley@horseshoemedia.com

August 2012 • 37


Bioenergy pellets in South America South America, particularly Brazil, may be big in biofuels, but the region has yet to flourish when it comes to producing biomass

South America: starting small and slowly... by Amy McLellan

A

ccording to Eurostat in 2010, the EU27 imported more than 2.6 million tonnes of pellets from outside the EU as domestic production increasingly falls short of growing demand. But this is just the start, with most analysts expecting EU pellet consumption, which hit 11.4 million tonnes in 2010, to ramp up as 2020 approaches. Estimates of pellet demand in 2020 vary widely but even the most conservative are at

tonnes produced last year). This could be about to change, however. According to ABIB, the country has the potential to produce 4.5 million tonnes of pellets by 2014 and much more thereafter. ‘With the availability of raw material and the well established wood and paper industry, it will only be a matter of time for Brazil to become a player in the wood pellets market,’ says Celso Oliveria, ABIB president. Some big projects have

Estimates of EU pellet demand in 2020 vary widely Source

Estimated demand (million tonnes)

Poyry 23.8 IEA 35 AEBIOM 50-80 least double current levels. South America is also now eying this trade. It certainly has the biomass resource potential and countries like Brazil and Colombia are well placed to make trans-Atlantic shipments to Europe. To date, however, the pellet industry in South America is small-scale and focused on servicing domestic demand. According to the Brazilian Association of Industry Biomass (ABIB), last year there were 12 wood pellet plants using pine or eucalyptus as feedstock to produce around 320,000 tonnes of pellets a year for local markets (there is a larger wood briquette market, with 2.8 million

38 • August 2012

already been announced but construction has yet to get underway with country watchers highlighting concerns about economic viability and risk-averse capital and debt markets. Suzano Energia Renovavel, a unit of Brazilian paper and pulp company Suzano Papel e Celulose, is among those with aggressive plans to start pellet production. Suzano has signed a letter of intent to build one or two pellet plants, each with a production capacity of 1 million tonnes, in the state of Maranhao in the northeast of the country. This represents an investment of R$1 billion (€432 million) and is a signal

of how Brazilian companies are confident they can access the European utility market. A third plant is planned to take the company’s total installed capacity to 3 million tonnes by 2014. The pellets will be made from specific eucalyptus clones, with a higher concentration of lignin and reduced harvest cycles (two to three years) to ensure competitive production capacity and costs. Industry watchers have long been waiting for further news on the project, crucially financing and commercial partners — the company had been linked with MGT’s stalled 300MW biomass plant on Teesside in the UK, which looks to be back on track after the government’s Renewable Obligations Review. Other big players with eyes on the European market include the Colleman Group, a conglomerate with interests ranging from oil and gas to robotics to dental insurance. It plans to invest R$30 million in a plant in Santa Catarina in southern Brazil with a capacity of 1 million tonnes per year to serve customers in Europe and Asia. Slim returns ‘There are plans for some big plants but they are still just that, plans,’ says Jefferson Mendes, director of forestry consultancy Pöyry Silviconsult Engenharia in Curitiba, Brazil.

‘The problem is it’s just not a commercial proposition yet because the internal rate of return is almost close to zero.’ There are two main reasons for the anorexic margins, says Mendes. First, logistics. Brazil is a massive country and would-be players need to make sure they have finely tuned the logistics of moving the biomass to the chipping centre to the port. Then there’s the trans-Atlantic shipping costs. According to figures from the US Industrial Pellet Association, the Southeast US has a shipping advantage over Brazil, with a shipping cost to the AmsterdamRotterdam-Antwerp region of $36 (€29), compared to $44 a tonne from Brazil. Second, pellet prices in Europe, often confidential but largely pegged at around $180 per tonne. Most analysts agree that the price paid by European utilities leaves little margin for producers. ‘The view of many people is that to make this feasible the minimum level of the pellet price in Europe needs to be 15-20% higher than where it is today,’ says Mendes. Given the threadbare margins, there is little investor appetite to put money into these projects, particularly given uncertainty about European policy as Europe’s politicians blow hot and cold on the green credentials of biomass. Despite these concerns, it is likely that a number of big

Bioenergy Insight


pellets in South America Bioenergy projects will get the green light. As has been seen in the US, some companies are playing the long game and see the massive anticipated growth in pellet demand from European utilities as well worth the short-term squeeze on margins. ‘Big players can start projects without enough margin, at least in the short term,’ says Mendes. ‘And with production of 1 to 2 million tonnes per year, they may be able to negotiate special conditions with the utilities that makes it worth while over the longer-term.’ Abundant biomass Other companies are starting small. Timber Creek Farms is a Canadian wood pellet producer. Or should that be was a Canadian wood pellet producer because the company is currently moving 8,000km to Pien in southeastern Brazil. A meeting with a Sao Paulo VC led to the decision to relocate. The reason? ‘Fibre cost, fibre quantity and fibre quality,’ says Chris Rover of Timber Creek Farms. The plant is using established pine plantations for its biomass. ‘The rotation of pine trees here is 15 years because of the climate,’ explains Rover. ‘Coming from Canada the first thing that strikes you is how big a forest is at just seven years. At 15 years, it’s a mature forest, it’s incredible.’ He says sustainability is a big issue because people think Brazil and they think Amazon rainforest. ‘Our plant is 4,000km from the rainforest,’ he says. ‘Brazil is a big big country and has a lot of resources.’ Although expecting some growth in the domestic market given the high natural gas prices facing Brazil’s growing industrial sector, Timber Creek Farms is targeting European utilities. It sees real opportunities in Europe and particularly the UK given the subsidy support for coal-fired

Bioenergy Insight

Timber Creek Farms: The pellet plant has relocated from Canada, drawn by the fibre quality in Pien, Brazil

stations seeking to convert to biomass. Rover also sees opportunities for heating hospitals, schools and other commercial buildings in the UK using pellet boilers. ‘It’s still in its infancy but we see real opportunities there. The Renewable Heat Incentive programme could really boost adoption of pellets in the UK,’ he says. The Pien plant, which lies some 100km from the port with good road connections, will have an initial capacity of 90,000 tonnes. Trial production is currently underway, with the company working out the bugs and fine-tuning the process. This is just the beginning, however; Timber Creek Farms is keen to grow this to a million tonne business over the next five to 10 years. The first expansion will double the size of the existing plant — the civil works and chipping centre were designed to handle double the startup capacity. ‘That’s the next 12 months project, to get this place to double in size,’ says Rover. ‘Then we’ll then go for another site.’ ‘The potential in the

region is huge,’ he adds. ‘This is the place to be. I think Brazil will be the low cost and high quality pellet producer for the world.’ Bagasse pellets It isn’t just Brazil’s wood plantations that are being lined up to make pellets. Madridbased Alkol Bioenergy has recently signed two contracts to export biopellets, made from sugarcane bagasse, from Brazil to Europe. It has taken time to reach this point as some potential pellet-makers failed to deliver on quantity and quality, says Alkol director Al Costa. ‘Because there’s no tradition of pelletisation in Brazil it was difficult to get reliable supplies,’ he recalls. ‘Some companies promised a lot with very inflated numbers but then failed to deliver because the machinery was broken or they hadn’t been able to source enough bagasse.’ Now Costa believes the company has found serious, reliable suppliers — although he is keeping a lid on their identity for now for commercial reasons. ‘We’re starting to

make presentations, running full analysis on the samples and hope to close contracts with customers in the next couple of months,’ he says. This industry is very much in its infancy in Brazil, which has long used bagasse to fuel its ethanol production plants with excess bagasse dumped on the fields. ‘Ten years ago they would pay you to get rid of it but now things are changing dramatically and a new model is emerging where bagasse plays a more important role than the juice,’ says Costa. ‘What used to be trash is now gold because the industry is looking to make cellulosic ethanol from bagasse.’ Companies like Spain’s Abengoa, for example, has funding from the Brazilian government to develop a cellulosic ethanol plant with the capacity to generate 100 million liters of ethanol per annum. Indeed, Costa says some companies are struggling to find enough bagasse to meet their commitments to sell into the grid now that this former waste product is so ‘fashionable’. Sourcing reliable, regular

August 2012 • 39


Bioenergy pellets in South America supplies of bagasse is one of the challenges facing the bagasse pellet market. Another is the manufacturing process. There are challenges to making pellets from sugarcane rather than wood because the silicon in the sugarcane tends to corrode the machinery. Equipment manufacturers have no experience in this so there is a learning curve to getting the right machinery and the right processes in place.

Despite these challenges, Costa says pellets made from bagasse have real advantages over those made from local woods. From an environmental point of view, sugarcane offers an edge because selective breeding means taller plants so the industry can increase production without taking up more land. The pellets also have a good energy yield, burn very well and produce very little ash, says Costa. ‘Another advantage of

bagasse pellets is that they have a much broader use than regular wood ones. Pellets made out of eucalyptus or pine have such a large amount of lignin — almost double the amount in bagasse pellets — that they can only be used for burning. But bagasse pellets can be used for animal feed, to make cellulosic ethanol and to produce paper so there’s a wide range of markets in case the power plant goes bust.’ It is, he says, a much more robust business model.

VENICE 2012

Fourth International Symposium on Energy from Biomass and Waste

12-15 November 2012 - San Servolo, Venice, Italy organized by IWWG - International Waste Working Group

SYMPOSIUM CHAIRMEN Raffaello COSSU University of Padua (IT) William P. CLARKE University of Queensland (AU) • Luis F. DIAZ CalRecovery Inc., Concord, CA (US) • Toshihiko MATSUTO University of Hokkaido (JP) • Michael NELLES University of Rostock (DE) • Rainer STEGMANN Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (SG) Scientific Secretary: Marco RAGAZZI University of Trento (IT) PRESENTATION The aim of the Venice 2012 Symposium is to focus on the advances made in the application of technologies for energy recovery from biomass and waste and to encourage discussion in these fields. The previous edition of the Symposium, held in 2010, was attended by nearly 600 scientists and operators from approximately 60 different countries. The fourth edition of the Symposium will last four days and will include oral sessions, a poster session, a small exhibition by compa nies working in the field and technical tours. TECHNICAL TOURS A number of technical tours will be scheduled for Thursday November 15th. Places will be limited and will be assigned on a first-come first-served basis. Details on technical tours and transport will be available on the Symposium website. EXHIBITION An exhibition will be held during the conference where organizations and companies can display their products and associated material. A leaflet which provides details concerning organization of the exhibition, costs and booking information is available on the web site. For further information please contact the Organizing Secretariat. SYMPOSIUM VENUE The Symposium will take place in Venice on the premises of the Conference Centre on the Island of San Servolo. The entire complex is immersed in stunning gardens with hundred-year-old trees. San Servolo offers accommodation solutions in small buildings scattered around the gardens. A public boat service connects Saint Mark’s Square with the island in 10 minutes. Timetable and further details available on the Symposium website. INFORMATION For further enquiries and information on registration, exhibition, accommodation, etc., please contact the Organising Secretariat: EuroWaste Srl - Via Beato Pellegrino, 23 - 35137 Padua (IT) Tel +39.049.8726986 - fax+39.049.8726987 - e-mail: info@eurowaste.it Continuously updated information is available on the Official Symposium website:

www.venicesymposium.it

40 • August 2012

Beyond Brazil Whatever the biomass source, be it wood or bagasse, this is still very early days for the Brazilian pellet industry. And Brazil is the pioneer in South America, with its neighbours showing little inclination to follow its lead. Those countries with rich forestry resources have expanding pulp and paper industries, with little inclination to pelletise their residues which they use instead to produce electricity. In Uruguay, for example, Finnish forestry giant UPM is expanding its eucalyptus-based pulp operations while Chile’s forestry sector is also focused on pulp and paper, although the IEA reports there are two small-scale pellet plants (10,000- 50,000 tonnes per year capacity) serving local customers. Argentina, which has the biomass resources to be a contender, is unlikely to attract international investment or custom given current political conditions. Mendes says Colombia could be an interesting case in the future. ‘Colombia has a very interesting strategic position. They are attracting more investment in their forestry industry now that the political situation has stabilised so pellets could be an option for them.’ For now, industry watchers are waiting to see what happens in Brazil, particularly whether the Suzano projects get sanctioned to put the country on track for exports in 2014. At the time of writing, a big biomass power plant in the UK previously linked with Suzano got the go-ahead. The £600 million (€754 million) MGT Power project will be based in Teeside in the northeast, with the company saying that the latest government ruling on Renewables Obligation Certificate support for biomass had removed the final doubts for lenders and equity providers. Could this be the starting gun for the Brazilian pellet industry? l

Bioenergy Insight


profile Bioenergy Bioenergy Insight looks at how Chilean biopower company Schwager Energy is helping the country’s goal of becoming more energy efficient

Chile: powering its curds and whey by James Barrett

I

t has been noted by some business-savvy people that Chile could become the first Latin American nation to be known as a ‘developed country’. After a Gross Domestic Product per capita of nearly $16,000 (€12,725) in 2010, and with predicted growth of 6.5% last year, Chile was foraging ahead of the likes of Brazil and Argentina in the race. One stumbling block to any potential success on that stage, however, has been Chile’s constant struggle to meet its energy demands. One such event occurred in September 2011 when a blackout plunged almost 10 million Chileans into darkness (out of a population of 17.4 million), grinding the capital Santiago to a halt and shutting down valuable copper mining facilities. Country risk analysts Business Monitor International foresees an increase from 58.8TWh in 2011 to 87.8TWh via its latest research figures; an over-reliance on imported fossil fuels and overdependence on internal hydroelectric sources (40% of Chile’s generated electricity) means other avenues will need to be explored. The current Chilean government alluded to five new hydroelectric plants to be built by two rivers in Patagonia which would generate more than 18TWh a year. But the plans have been met by stern opposition from environmentalists as nearly

Bioenergy Insight

The Purranque plant working in collaboration with L & E

6,000 hectares of wilderness and natural habitat would be destroyed via flooding, further endangering the Andean deer — a national emblem to many Chileans. However, it is more humble animals that may provide the solution to any future energy crisis and energy developing company Schwager Energy (SE) may just be using the cream of that crop. Pull the udder one SE has been providing environmental and energy developments since 1875 and, despite having roots in the coal industry, now promotes itself as one that wants to help Chile

become an energy-sustainable country. Through a subsidiary, SE is combining the worlds of biogas and dairy products to provide heat and power. ‘Although the Chilean biogas market is still in its infancy, there has been an increase in recent initiatives,’ says SE CEO Renzo Antognoli. ‘Most projects use pig slurry as their feedstock, others use bird manure, agro-industrial waste, liquid industrial waste (LIW) or, to a lesser extent, corn crops and cattle slurry. ‘In our case, SE participates in this market through our subsidiary L & E (Dairy and Energy), with which we are carrying out projects aimed at generating electricity

and heat by treating LIW and serum milk produced by the cheese industry.’ SE currently has one biogas plant online in Purranque, a second facility wrapping up construction in Puerto Octay and a third being engineered in another part of Los Lagos. L & E maintains business relationships with many regional dairy companies and makes sure that deliveries of both milk serum and LIW reach the Purranque plant. ‘The waste goes into an anaerobic digester and also a whey ultrafiltration process from which we get two products: a whey protein concentrate (WPC) and a lactose-rich permeate which

August 2012 • 41


Bioenergy profile production, but that will never be at the expense of our neighbours.’ Streamlined future

The revenue stream created by the facility was over $2.5m last year

Special delivery: Schwager hopes to share its knowledge with other Chilean biomass users

we sterilise and digest, via two anaerobic reactors, into a methane-rich biogas,’ explains Antognoli. Both the WPC and dried whey powder produced are then sold on via L & E to food industries to help make the likes of ice cream, cookies, muffins and other concentrated foods. In 2011 the revenue stream created by dried whey alone was $2.65 million. As SE collates the final findings on its biogas

42 • August 2012

production at Purranque (1MWh at the time of writing), Antognoli says there are no doubts it will exceed all company expectations and that is why the two other plants aforementioned are so advanced in their progress. ‘We have focused on stabilising our electricity processes and can now produce continuously. We are currently finalising the engineering stage for the new one in Los Lagos, which we named

Proyecto Lácteos Osorno,’ he adds, ‘while the biogas plant we are building in Puerto Octay will be operational over the next few months. ‘In the future, we hope SE will be able to implement its solutions into other companies from the national industry, some of who have already expressed an interest. It’ll also explore global opportunities based on countries or regions with a significantly high milk

SE has to work within a government stipulation called Supreme Decree 90 which is a standard for regulating ‘emissions of pollutants associated with discharges of liquid waste into shallow marine and inland waters’. ‘This is by far the strictest regulation in terms of discharge management for a company like us,’ explains Antognoli. ‘However, we see it as an opportunity to demonstrate that this type of energy plant can treat its waste in the right way and not impact on the environment.’ And this point grows even more pertinent as Antognoli says that, in Chile at least, there are no environmental regulations in place to govern biogas made from biofertilisers. ‘Despite having many beneficial agricultural properties, it cannot be marketed because there is no clear legislation around it. This issue does not affect us directly as our by-products are clean liquid discharges, but Chile’s renewable energy future will depend on such things being ratified,’ he says, adding the security of handling biofuels also needs to be looked at. With that in mind however, Antognoli believes South America’s future as a renewable energy producer and influencer looks bountiful. ‘We think the bioenergy market is emerging fast in Chile but, of course, we respect Brazil’s status as the internationally recognised leader in this market given the size of its industry and the volumes produced,’ he concludes. ‘The Chilean government is developing strong communication campaigns to promote such projects like ours which, I’m sure, will generate many new initiatives.’ l

Bioenergy Insight


profile Bioenergy A new joint power and ethanol plant is now fully operational in Peru, but you may have trouble finding it on a map

The Peruvian bioplant mystery by James Barrett

P

eru, despite being sandwiched by renewable energy giants like Brazil, Chile and Columbia, has been quietly housing a mini-bioenergy and biofuels revolution of its own; a combined power and ethanol facility which is now ready to start business on a major scale. To add to the mystery, this facility doesn’t even have a name but it is self-sufficient and operates under the banner of independent energy company Maple Energy. Fuel for thought ‘That is true, it doesn’t really have a name!’ laughs Maple Energy CEO Rex Canon, ‘so we simply call it the Maple Energy Project (MEP) and it is based in the Piura region.’ Historically, Maple Energy started out with an integrated natural gas and electricity generation project called Aguaytia, which it then sold in 2009. It now concentrates on four energy provisions, one of which is that new combined power and ethanol plant. The ethanol side of the MEP project, which is Maple Energy’s primary focus and cost $280 million (€231.2 million) to construct, has been in production since March and the facility has a capacity of up to 35 million gallons per year.

Bioenergy Insight

The combined Maple Energy power and ethanol plant resides in Piura region

‘Our plant is self-sufficient on every level,’ he explains. ‘The facility will eventually be surrounded by 10,000 hectares

trade agreements, Peru is able to sell ethanol dutyfree to both Europe and the US, with northern Europe

Ethanol production far outweighs Peru’s current demand but this could soon change of sugarcane feedstock, of which we are over halfway towards achieving; we are near to a river for water needs and we are only 25km away from the Port of Paita so we can export fairly simply.’ In fact, due to international

currently the most favourable destination for Maple Energy to be trading with. Add to that Peru’s climate, which, according to Canon, is ‘arguably the best in the world for growing sugarcane as we can grow up to 150

tonnes per hectare compared to 80 tonnes per hectare in Brazil’, and it seems Maple Energy has a recipe for ethanol success. Powering up The other side of the coin for the MEP is the power generator which can now make use of the biogas produced from the making of ethanol. The facility can produce up to 37MW of power via the excess biogas and Canon says it will be harnessed in two different ways. ‘We almost split that 37MW

August 2012 • 43


Bioenergy profile straight down the middle at the moment. About 20MW goes into heating the facility and also generates electricity for internal use. For example, we have two big pumps that drive water up through pipes from the nearby Chira River to aid irrigation,’ he says. ‘The remainder is sold on to the national grid but, as we aim to start increasing the tonnage of sugarcane, the level of power will naturally increase too.’ The power generation facilities have been supplied by electrical engineering giant Siemens. Steam created for the power generation facilities is provided via a high pressure boiler using bagasse and some additional sugarcane plant foliage as a fuel source. ‘We intend to install further separation equipment into the second half of 2012 to extract more sugarcane leaves to use as a fuel source,’ Canon adds. Sticking to what you know The export route to business will remain Maple Energy’s focus for now. The production of ethanol far outweighs current demand within

The Maple plant will eventually be surrounded by 10,000 hectares of feedstock

the country but Canon says steps are happening to try and change that. ‘At the moment vehicle gasoline can only have a maximum of 7.8% ethanol in it, which is a lot less than our more aggressive Brazilian neighbours,’ he explains. ‘Interest is however growing

slowly and the Ministry of Mines and Energy is currently actively marketing renewable energy to the masses, which is a good thing.’ There is only one other facility like the MEP in Peru and Canon says his company’s next step will involve… well, more of the same.

‘We’ll still be focused on ethanol production but any new projects we embark on will have a power generation element too. Ideally we’d like to replicate the success of the MEP which has all the hallmarks of being both economically and environmentally successful,’ concludes Canon. l

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44 • August 2012

Bioenergy Insight


emissions Bioenergy It seems crazy that an industry set up to reduce the environmental effects of power generation should fall foul of anti-pollution laws, but that is exactly what has happened at some US plants. Phil Thane looks at the best possible monitoring and control options

No laughing matter

B

urn any fuel and the result will be both gas and solids. The gsses include CO2 from burning carbon, and H2O (as water vapour) from burning hydrogen. If the oxygen flow is insufficient CO is formed, which is poisonous. If the furnace operates at a high temperature with plentiful oxygen then some of the nitrogen in the air is oxidised creating N2O, NO and NO2, collectively known as NOx. N2O is commonly known as ‘laughing gas’ but less well known as a potent greenhouse gas 300 times more harmful than CO2. NO2 breaks down in sunlight to yield oxygen that then goes on to form ozone. At ground level ozone is a potent respiratory hazard. If the fuel contains sulphur then sulphur dioxide (SO2) will also form, a major issue for coal and oil burners, but one that can affect biomass plants as well, especially those burning waste material. Contaminated wood may also yield hydrogen chloride (HCl). Solid waste products from combustion take many forms, some obvious to the naked eye, others less obvious but potentially more harmful. Solid fuels such as biomass produce ash, largely comprised of the nonflammable components of the fuel. The heavier ash falls to the bottom of the furnace but the lighter particles, known as ‘fly ash’, can be carried out of the stack if control systems are not in place to prevent it. Very fine particulate matter (PM) — so small that it can remain in the air almost

Bioenergy Insight

24MW biomass-fired boiler

indefinitely — constitutes a serious health hazard. Such tiny particles are measured in micrometres (1μm = 1x106m). Particles below a given size are referred to by a PM number, thus everything below 10μm is known as PM10. Particles larger than that are usually caught by mucus in the nose and throat, but PM10 can be carried into the lungs where it can cause serious problems. PM10 is the key metric in anti-pollution laws around the world. PM2.5 has been found to be able to pass through the lungs into the bloodstream causing even more health risks, so there are moves to tighten regulation for those too. Setting the standards Many countries have some form of Clean Air Act to define what is an acceptable level for various pollutants in the atmosphere. In the EU, member nations are required

to bring their national levels in line with Directive 2008/50/EC. Some of these EU targets do not come into force until the end of this year, and states can apply for five year extensions in some cases. Pollution levels can be affected by weather conditions, seismic activity and industrial accidents so there is some leeway for occasional breaches of certain targets. It is up to member states to decide how they achieve these levels but it always involves limitations on domestic coal burning, regulating emissions from vehicles and from industrial processes — including burning biomass to generate heat and/or power. The actual levels of emission permitted vary from place to place since the aim is to keep the air pollution below the target levels. In a densely populated, industrial city where the air

is already heavily polluted any new emissions will be tightly controlled, but a small biomass plant in a rural location can expect to be treated more leniently. In the US, air quality standards are set by the Clean Air Act and each state implements its own emissions regulations to try to ensure that the air meets national standards. The general regulatory scheme affects not only the biomass industry but any industry that causes emissions. There is a section of the Clean Air Act called Title V and anyone planning to build what the act calls a ‘major air source’ needs to get a Title V permit from the regulatory agency. Typically the EPA authorises states to act as their agents. During the design stage the company has to show that the technology they intend to deploy to deal with any emission — gaseous or particulate — is the ‘best achievable control technology’ (BACT). They will discuss the options with suppliers and seek to find systems that have been proven in commercial use then go back to the agency for a ‘finding’ to decide whether or not the technology is appropriate. Without a Title V permit it is not possible to get finance or build. Title V permits define testing regimes for the plant using ‘continuous emissions monitoring’ (CEMs) equipment installed in the stack(s). In addition most facilities undertake quarterly

August 2012 • 45


Bioenergy emissions EU air quality 2008 Pollutant

Concentration

Averaging period

Legal nature

Permitted exceedences each year

Fine articles (PM2.5) 25 µg/m3*** 1 year

Target value entered into force 1.1.2010 Limit value enters into force 1.1.2015

n/a

Sulphur dioxide (SO2)

350 µg/m3

1 hour

Limit value entered into force 1.1.2005

24

125 µg/m3

24 hours

Limit value entered into force 1.1.2005

3

Nitrogen dioxide (NO2)

200 µg/m

1 hour

Limit value entered into force 1.1.2010

18

40 µg/m3

1 year

Limit value entered into force 1.1.2010

n/a

PM10

50 µg/m3

24 hours

Limit value entered into force 1.1.2005

35

40 µg/m3

1 year

Limit value entered into force 1.1.2005

n/a

Limit value entered into force 1.1.2005 (or 1.1.2010 in the immediate vicinity of specific, notified industrial sources; and a 1.0 µg/m3 limit value applied from 1.1.2005 to 31.12.2009)

n/a

3

Lead (Pb) 0.5 µg/m3 1 year Carbon monoxide (CO)

10 mg/m3

Maximum daily 8 hour mean Limit value entered into force 1.1.2005

Benzene

5 µg/m3

1 year

Ozone

120 µg/m3

Maximum daily 8 hour mean Target value entered into force 1.1.2010

25 days averaged over 3 years

Arsenic (As)

6 ng/m3

1 year

Target value enters into force 31.12.2012

n/a

Cadmium (Cd)

5 ng/m3

1 year

Target value enters into force 31.12.2012

n/a

Nickel (Ni)

20 ng/m3

1 year

Target value enters into force 31.12.2012

n/a

Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons “1 ng/m3 (expressed as 1 year Target value enters into force 31.12.2012 concentration of Benzo(a)pyrene)”

n/a

Limit value entered into force 1.1.2010

n/a n/a

Data supplied by the European Commission - http://ec.europa.eu/environment/air/quality/standards.htm

and annual stack tests that measure not only various emissions but include an opacity test of the flue gas where trained observers look at the stack to see if there is any opaque smoke being emitted. Operators are subject to checks by inspectors from the EPA or the state, which bring in their own equipment to ensure the operator’s equipment is performing correctly. To further complicate matters many countries/ states/regions now award Renewable Energy Credits (REC), Renewables Obligation Certificates (ROC) or something similar to green power generators, but set even tighter controls on emissions. Bob Cleaves, president and CEO of the Biomass Power Association in the US gave an example from his home state of Maine where biomass facilities must meet an NOx standard of 0.15lbs/MWh. The same standard applies to the south in Connecticut for Title V but if a power company from Maine wants to sell power into the Connecticut

46 • August 2012

renewable portfolio they have to demonstrate NOx figures of less than 0.075lbs/MWh. Gas problems In February 2011 two biomass plants in the San Joaquin Valley, California, owned at the time by Global Ampersand of Boston were fined a total of $835,000 (€664,000) for breaching pollution limits set by the state of California. California has well known pollution problems and hence tighter controls than most of the US.

SCR Injector in spray lab

These plants have an unfortunate history. Built in the 1980s they had been mothballed for several years and needed extensive refurbishment and modernisation to make them compliant with current regulations. Global Ampersand acquired the plants and had them refurbished by Crown Engineering during 2007 and 2008. When the plants began operations they were found to breach standards for NOx, SO2, NH3 and CO, and for failing to meet opacity standards. The monitoring and

control systems were found to be not properly installed or operated. Global Ampersand sued Crown, who counter-sued but the case was dismissed and both companies ordered to pay their own costs. Global Ampersand subsequently sold both plants to Akeida Capital Management who were major investors in the original refurbishment. Akeida told Bioenergy Insight the problems had been resolved and both plants are now operating correctly, but declined to go into details. NOx production in a furnace can be controlled in several ways: by lowering the furnace temperature and reducing the oxygen level by a combination of careful control of the under grate and over-fire air (OFA), by flue gas recirculation (FGR), or by introducing either ammonia or urea above the grate to react with any NOx formed and reduce it to N, CO, CO2 and H2O. In the FGR process flue gas from downstream of the boiler is mixed with the combustion air from the forced draft fan. Without FGR grate furnaces are run with an excess of air

Bioenergy Insight


emissions Bioenergy and Massachusetts. In the event both plants now operate at 0.05 lb/MMBtu. Sulphur oxides, collectively SOx, and hydrogen chloride (HCl) are both acidic gases often released when burning contaminated waste wood or MSW. Being acidic they can be neutralised by injecting calcium carbonate (lime) into the furnace. This is the method used by renewable energy provider Dalkia in the UK, which also injects a sorbent for adsorbing dioxins and heavy metals which are later removed by electrostatic precipitation. SNCR and SCR injection metering skid

to keep the grate cool, and fluid bed furnaces also require an excess to keep the bed fluid. By recirculating flue gas the volume of gas can be maintained but the amount of oxygen and nitrogen reduced, reducing NOx. Chemical reduction of NOx can be achieved using a catalyst, selective catalytic reduction (SCR) or without a catalyst, selective noncatalytic reduction (SNCR). SCR uses porous ceramic substrates for the catalyst and to avoid clogging these have to follow the particulate removal stages; at this point the gas is too cool for the reaction to proceed so re-heat is needed, adding considerably to the cost and complexity. SNCR is simpler, the reagent is injected into the furnace above the grate and the reduction takes place in the gas stream. SNCR works well in the relatively small furnaces used by biomass plants; in a large coal furnace it would be impossible to spray right into the centre of the furnace. It can also be adapted to fluid bed furnaces. SCR is sometimes preferred or used in combination with SNCR where very low NOx levels are demanded. SCR/SNCR can be carried out using either urea or ammonia, but urea is usually preferred because it is

Bioenergy Insight

Particulate issues easier to handle and store. Specialist companies such as Combustion Components Associates (CCA) from Monroe, Connecticut, is able to fine tune furnaces so that emissions are reduced while efficiency is maintained or even increased. Back in 2008 CCA worked on two biomass plants in the US north east. In both cases it modified the OFA system and added FGR, SNCR and SCR. The aim was to reduce NOx emissions to less than 0.065lb/MMBtu from 0.212lb/ MMBtu in order to apply for renewable energy credits through the sale of power to the states of Connecticut

The technology used to prevent gaseous emissions from biomass energy plants has been used in other industries for many years, and the same applies to dealing with particulates. Many industries produce dust, all of them are tightly controlled and there are plenty of specialist companies able to design and build dust control equipment. The first dust removal stage is usually a cyclone which uses centrifugal force to separate particulates from the flue gases. The flue gases enter tangentially at the top of the cyclone body and spiral

downwards at high speed. Particulates are spun out of the gas and slide down the wall of the chamber exiting at the bottom. The gas stream slows down as it descends due to friction and just before the bottom it stops spinning and passes up the centre of the cyclone and exits at the top. Smaller cyclones are more efficient than larger ones so ‘multicyclone’ set ups are common. Cyclones are very good at removing PM10 and above, less so at removing PM2.5. Smaller particles are usually trapped in fabric filters arranged in ‘baghouses’, so called because the filters are in the form of large open ended bags hung in a box the size of a house! The baghouse is sectional and the gas flow can be diverted away from each section in turn while the bags in it are mechanically shaken to dislodge the dust which falls into a hopper. In many regions a cyclone plus baghouse combination is sufficient to satisfy emission regulations, but where ROCs or RECs set higher standards electrostatic precipitation (ESP) is often used. ESPs have a number of high-voltage DC discharge electrodes between grounded collecting electrodes. The contaminated gases flow through the

Flow pathlines for FGR mixing with UGA air

August 2012 • 47


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SNCR tilting injectors mounted on biomass boiler

gap between them and are charged as they pass through the ionized field. The charged particles are then attracted to a grounded or positively charged electrode and stick to it. In dry ESP systems material on the electrodes is removed by vibrating the collecting electrodes. Wet ESP is carried out inside a tower with water flowing down the walls, which acts as the grounded electrode so the particulates are carried away in the water. Dry ESP is normally good enough for biomass plants. Dalkia’s head of marketing and communications Nick Burchett says that its ESP system removes 99% of particulates, but where higher standards are set, or a particularly problematic fuel is burnt, wet ESP is preferred. Testing problems

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In 2011 a new wood-burning electricity plant just north of Eugene, Oregon failed the EPA 5 particulates test. Richard Re, general manager and owner of Seneca Sustainable Energy was disappointed. The company had set out to build the cleanest biomass plant in the US and spent $11.5 million (€9.3 million) on pollution controls. Ken Kinsley, VP of operations at Wellons, which supplied the furnace and

boiler system, explains about how the problem occurred. The problem lies with EPA 5 itself, when used on flue gases that contain traces of ammonia from the SNCR system. Part of the test involves passing a sample of flue gas through water to condense any volatile organic compounds which could form particulates naturally in the atmosphere as they cooled. The condensate from this test is counted as particulate matter. When urea is used in SNCR it is converted to ammonia which then reacts with the NOx; if there is a slight excess of ammonia it passes into the flue gas. The amount of ammonia is very small, within safety limits, but when it passes through the EPA 5 test equipment along with traces of SO2 they both dissolve in the water and react to form ammonium sulphate (NH4)2SO4 which distorts the test results. Having established where the issue lay Seneca was able to bring in a specialist testing company to carry out an alternate, more sophisticated and much more expensive particulate test, CTM 39. Having passed this test, and all the tests on gaseous emissions the plant has been cleared to operate. EPA is working to develop improved test methods which will eliminate these issues. l

Bioenergy Insight 31/07/2012 16:02


gasification Bioenergy Linde Engineering Dresden reveals why it wanted Choren’s Carbo-V technology, and discusses whether Choren’s demise is a reflection of the biomass gasification market

Onwards and upwards by Keeley Downey

F

or over 10 years Choren Industries dedicated itself to developing — among other technologies — its Carbo-V technology for the gasification of waste materials, from wood and other biomass to municipal waste and plastic. The gasification process is a fairly unique one in that it includes three steps: low temperature gasification which runs at 450-500°C, high temperature gasification at approximately 1,350°C, and endothermic quenching by addition of bio-coke removed from the first step. This combination means the pyrolysis gas from the low temperature gasification stage can be used in the high temperature gasification step and part of the energy is removed by endothermic quenching, making the process much more for efficient than other gasification technologies available at the time. Choren was making good progress in bringing this technology to market. First the company constructed a pilot plant which produced 20 tonnes of synthetic fuel from mainly woody feedstock. On the back of this successful pilot facility Choren went on to break ground on its semi-commercial 45MW demonstration plant in Freiberg, Germany in 2006, to demonstrate the Carbo-V and subsequent BtL process. The facility was completed in 2009 and was in a prolonged start-up process but operating the Carbo-V process for over a thousand hours.

Bioenergy Insight

However, Choren was unable to complete the start-up of the entire process chain up to BtL as the company ran into financial difficulty. Bringing the plant to operation took much longer than expected as it incurred some substantial engineering deficiencies, adding further costs to the project. In the end, Choren was no longer able to fund this growing burden and in July 2011 filed for insolvency. A perfect fit ‘Choren died on the costs of its plant,’ observes Sven Petersen, VP of carbon and energy solutions at Linde Engineering Dresden, which is part of the Linde Engineering division. On 9 February this year Linde acquired Choren’s biomass gasification technology for an undisclosed sum. The two companies had a good business working relationship, having worked together on a number of projects over the years, including studies surrounding Choren’s Carbo-V process. Not only did Choren have a positive relationship with Linde but, more importantly, its process was a perfect fit among Linde’s existing portfolio, including gas cleaning systems and syngas shift technologies. These two factors meant Linde was keen to purchase the technology, along with several other interested parties. Petersen recalls: ‘It was in Linde’s interest to secure the technology and then

bring it to commercialisation, and we expect to be successful in the end.’ The next steps Since acquiring Choren’s biomass gasification process earlier this year, Linde has made good progress. The company is further developing the technology after identifying ‘certain problem areas’. By the end of this year Linde plans to make the system more robust with the implementation of its own standard technologies for the surrounding supporting systems. Petersen emphasises that the core process of Carbo-V will remain unchanged. ‘We will achieve the same quality of syngas as Choren has done but with a more stable operation,’ he says. Linde will then begin licensing the Carbo-V process. At the time of the acquisition Jörg Linsenmaier, MD of Linde Engineering Dresden, said: ‘In the future we plan to offer the Carbo-V technology as licensor and also as an engineering and contracting company for commercial projects on a strongly growing market.’ Despite its future plans for Carbo-V, Linde did not buy Choren’s semi-commercial demonstration-scale plant, nor does it intend to operate the technology elsewhere in a pilot scale. Petersen explains: ‘If Linde bought the plant it would have to invest in solving the engineering deficiencies, too, which would have been quite expensive.

On the other hand, there was no real need to buy the plant because we have access to all the operational data from the past.’ This means Choren’s semi-commercial BtL plant went into the possession of Choren’s insolvency trustee, German law firm Kübler, and remains unsold today. A market reflection But are Choren’s financial problems and resulting insolvency a reflection of the market for gasification? Petersen insists that it is not; rather ‘a reflection of the difficulties in financing the start-up of a semicommercial plant over a long period of time’. He adds: ‘I think more government support in the form of financing would certainly be helpful because biofuels might play an important role, especially for the transportation and aviation industries.’ In addition to this, Petersen says Linde has been approached by companies worldwide interested in the Carbo-V process. Linde will begin by targeting regions that have a lot of woody biomass. ‘Choren claimed that Carbo-V could process any feedstock from municipal waste, biomass, wood and plastic. Linde is taking a slightly different approach at the moment; our first priority is to target wood, get Carbo-V working and then we can think about other things.’ l

August 2012 • 49


Bioenergy pyrolysis The US Department of Energy recently published cost projections for several advanced biofuels technologies, and their competitiveness with petroleum. The pyrolysis pathway — where biomass is compressed into oil at high temperatures — showed the best numbers

Newfound legitimacy by Nicholas Zeman

A

n enormous number of possible conversion pathways, technologies, and process configurations exist for biofuels production from biomass. The way those conversions, or transformations, are effected have become the subjects of fierce competition among scientists and industrialists. Chemists and chemical companies are all trying to produce fuel from biomass, but they often operate in different sectors, competing for DoE funding and policy initiatives. DoE’s recent acknowledgment that pyrolysis promises the best cost-competitiveness with petroleum for the production of advanced biofuels, seems to reposition itself in terms of its historic emphasis on cellulosic ethanol produced from enzymatic hydrolysis. Many believe that pyrolysis, the decomposition or transformation of a compound using heat, has been an underutilised technology as the US tries to meet ‘advanced biofuel’ blend requirements under its renewable fuels programme. A recent presentation from the DoE’s biomass office, ‘Biofuels Design Cases’ shows that situation could be changing. It began appearing this spring at conferences and online, showing the results of a ‘techno-economic analysis’

50 • August 2012

for several current biomass-tofuel pathways DoE has funded including algae, fermentation, gasification and pyrolysis. Robert Brown, founding director of the Bioeconomy Institute at Iowa State University, says he witnessed the development of DoE’s biofuels programme — and

enzymes and those companies got the early funding. What’s changed in the last five years is that petroleum companies have become more interested in pyrolysis technologies for biofuels, in part because of similarities to their own process for refining petrol from crude oil.

In 2009, DoE estimated the costs of production for biofuel based on pyrolysis to be $7.68/ gallon. By this year, it projects the cost dropping to $4.55, and then over the next five years it projects costs will fall to $2.32 the companies it backed — from the very beginning. It was thought that cellulosic ethanol was not very mature and there was a lot of room for improvements, while thermo-chemical technologies, like pyrolysis, were reaching the end of their evolutions. Thermochemical technologies like pyrolysis also left room for improvements, but at the time there was little interest. ‘I went to the DoE and asked them why they weren’t investing in pyrolysis,’ Brown says. ‘The DoE said: ‘You bring us the companies and we will invest.’ Most of the companies ready to move at that critical point, however, produced

‘They use heat and catalysts in their own processes, so they started paying more attention,’ Brown says. The results Brown and his colleagues at ISU performed a technoeconomic analysis, in partnership with oil major ConocoPhillips, in 2010. Subsequently, DoE based its own, recently published cost projections for FischerTropsch (FT) gasification, enzymatic hydrolysis and pyrolysis on Brown’s research. While the data has been available for two years, DoE incorporating the numbers into its own cost-projection

analyses is significant. ‘There is a vetting process performed by the national labs in which researchers take the information and do some of their own analysis and projections on how quickly technologies will develop over the next five years,’ Brown says. Three teams at ISU working on each of the platforms performed the study, ‘Technoeconomic comparison of biomass-to-transportation fuels via pyrolysis, gasification, and biochemical pathways’. It received a lot of attention, especially from DoE, which is always under a lot of scrutiny for the projects and technologies it chooses to back. Here are some of the results shown in DoE’s costprojections. ‘Biofuels Design Cases’ broke down the 2012 selling price for algal products in four categories: Triglycerides from open ponds at $9.28 (€7.5) per gallon and from photo-bioreactors at $17.52 per gallon, and then the finished diesel produced from algae oil at $10.66 from ponds and $19.89 from bioreactors. Other results project a future best-case scenario of about $3.50 per gallon for the methanol-topetrol route, $2 per gallon for the pyrolysis route, and $5 per gallon for the FT route. In 2009, DoE estimated the costs of production for biofuel based on pyrolysis at

Bioenergy Insight


pyrolysis Bioenergy $7.68/gallon. By this year, it projects the cost dropping to $4.55, and then over the next five years it projects costs will fall to $2.32. So what does DoE’s publishing of these numbers mean for thermochemical sector? It means that pyrolysis has come of age, and momentum in the sector is building. ‘DoE’s presentation provides the credibility for policy makers to start thinking differently about the way the US spends its renewable energy funding,’ Brown says. ‘While the emphasis was mostly on ethanol, it is starting to shift toward ‘dropin’ fuels — hydrocarbons, which can also be produced using biotechnology. ‘So it is important that we make largely irreversible investments [in building new facilities] carefully so we do not lock ourselves into undesirable configurations,’ Brown says. With the current construction of Poet’s Project Liberty in Iowa and Abengoa’s cellulosic biorefinery in Kansas under construction right now — and the hundreds of millions in loan guarantees these projects received — logic says the proliferation of second generation biorefineries is still skewed toward cellulosic ethanol production. Brown, however, says otherwise. ‘The field of commercialisation efforts is fairly balanced,’ he says. US-based renewable fuels company Kior, for instance is building a commercial plant. Ongoing improvements But there is still work to be done. One goal of commercialising pyrolysisto-biofuels is increasing the yields. ‘There are problems with bio-oil,’ says Mike Timko, chemical engineer at Aerodyne Research, Billerica, Massachusetts. ‘It’s acidic, not shelf-stable.’ Aerodyne is a recent

Bioenergy Insight

winner of DoE’s Phase II Small Business research awards for its fast pyrolysis project. This work will develop technologies that target direct conversion of inedible, waste components of biomass into chemicals that can be used as additives or replacements to petrol or to synthesise plastics. Timko and Aerodyne have worked mostly in the emissions measurement and control sector, and first started receiving federal attention from its awardwinning air quality studies. Aerodyne says it is a little company that likes to work on big problems, becoming increasingly interested in biofuels as strong role player in emissions reductions efforts. ‘Right now that’s an apple in the eye of the DoE, being able to deliver stable bio-oil from the field to the refinery,’ Timko says. One method of ‘upgrading bio-oil’ is hydro-processing, which uses hydrogen to lower the oxygen content of bio-oil, usually about 45%, says George Huber, professor of chemical engineering at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. ‘It’s also referred to as hydrogen-deoxygenation,’ he says. ‘Pyrolysis followed by hydro-processing can be directed to produce components, “aromatics”, for petrol and diesel fuel blending. Upgrading bio-oil into compounds like benzine, polylene and xylene makes it easier for refiners to process and blend bio-oil.’ Huber develops new catalysts to improve the yields of the bio-oil upgrading process. ‘We’ve been using platinum to design heterogenous catalysts,’ Huber explains. ‘Platinum is very expensive, so we are using about a 2-3%. These are high surface areas with a mix of other materials like zinc and carbon. These catalysts have to be replaced every six months to several years and

can be recycled,’ Huber says. Refiner interest, competitive advantage There has been tremendous interest from Big Oil, but very few tech firms working with bio-oil. Huber, co-founder of the pyrolysis company Anellotech, discovered the RaneyNiSn catalyst for hydrogen production from biomassderived oxygenates, which was named one of top 50 technology breakthroughs of 2003 by Scientific America. Through hydro-processing bio-oil can be upgraded to make fuels that are more adept at fitting into the current fuel infrastructure in the US, but there remain challenges to upgrading the bio-oil. ‘For one, purchasing the hydrogen you need for the process costs more than the bio-oil,’ Huber says. Even with the challenges, however, DoE projects the largest cost savings to come from improvements to the upgrading step. ‘It is very promising,’ Huber says. The fact is fast pyrolysis has several advantages over fermentation approaches. ‘Most of these reactions happen in a matter of seconds, while fermentation can take days,’ Brown says. ‘So from the standpoint of throughput, pyrolysis is much more economical. For one pyrolysis doesn’t use enzymes, and let’s face it, they’re expensive.’ In addition, catalysts used in the pyrolysis process can be recycled, so the costs are small compared to enzymes. A pyrolyser is also small, processing as little as 200 tonnes per day. ‘Some of the smallest fermentors take in 2,000 tonnes per day, so that is a factor of 10,’ Brown says. Pyrolysers are like ‘little oil wells’ that can be deployed to sites where biomass is collected. From there it can be piped into tanker trucks that take

the bio-oil to a centralised refining location.‘We picture a rig on the back of a truck and wheel it up to where the residues are collected, you can’t do that with fermentors,’ Timko says. Fighting for a spot There might have been some political reasons, or ‘nontechnical factors’ as to why biochemical approaches to converting biomass received so much historical attention and support.‘The budget at DoE’s biomass office gets changed so much that it often comes down to which companies have the best connections to their congressman and things like that,’ Huber explains. ‘How many hundreds of millions have we spent to make cellulosic ethanol a reality? We only need to spend a fraction of that to make biofuels from pyrolysis a reality.’ Timko agrees: ‘Pyrolysis is only now becoming part of the lexicon. The companies working in this area have been few and far between, but now the sector is hot. A lot of credit should go to Robert Brown,’ Timko says. ‘He really demonstrated through economic analysis the cross-benefits of pyrolysis.’ Pyrolysis technologies must be a part of meeting the ambitious requirements of the US Renewable Fuel Standard and its cellulosic biofuel mandates. With the stand-alone biomass-to-liquid fuels, plants considered in the ISU-Conoco study would require between 34 and 103 plants with corresponding total capital investment of between $7 billion and $51 billion, and these plants would have to be in early development now to be operating at capacity by 2015, Brown says. ‘It is important that we recognise the capital and fuel costs that these goals imply as we consider our choices among the technologies and feedstocks currently available.’ l

August 2012 • 51


Bioenergy gasification Frédéric Dalimier of Xylowatt tells Keeley Downey about the company’s new strategic alliance that will improve the attractiveness of its gasification technology

Home and dry

M

oisture content in biomass varies considerably and may range from 15% for recycled wood to over 50% in virgin wood thinning. Although not a new method, gasification is a popular way of producing onsite decentralised renewable energy from a variety of biomass feedstocks. But in order to successfully complete the gasification process with high quality results, the biomass must be — to a certain degree — moisture-free. ‘We request a very high temperature in the reactor,’ says Dalimier, Xylowatt sales manager. Xylowatt is a European manufacturer of biomass gasification technology. ‘If water is introduced it will absorb energy, causing the temperature in the reactor to be lower than what is required. For that reason we need a very dry material.’ In order to ensure such dried material makes it in to its gasification technology, Xylowatt has formed a strategic alliance with Aqualogy, a subsidiary of Agbar, which holds the STC technology to dry biomass at a low temperature. Under the contract, which was announced on 25 June this year and will last for a period of five years, the two companies will provide a joint offering of drying equipment for biomass products by Aqualogy STC, coupled with biomass gasification facilities designed and developed by Xylowatt. ‘The association of the

52 • August 2012

STC dryer and Xylowatt gasification technology will give an attractive combined product to manage biomass with a great variability in moisture content,’ Dalimier highlights. The agreement will see Xylowatt and Aqualogy target six countries in particular: Brazil, Chile, Spain, Turkey, UK and US. ‘We [Xylowatt] would like to focus on the gasification and the production of our units;

a moisture content of below 10% means the company is able to maximise its process through the use of different biomass materials with different moisture contents. However, the new partnership means Xylowatt could in the future gasify other, non-wood related products as Aqualogy has developed its biomass drying unit to handle — for example — sewage sludge. ‘Aqualogy is working in

The alliance of Xylowatt and Aqualogy will create a product that can manage biomass with great variability in moisture content

when a project is signed we will deliver the gasification unit and Aqualogy and Agbar Group will work as an EPC contractor,’ Dalimier explains. ‘The global project will be organised and supported by our partner Aqualogy.’ Dalimier says Xylowatt has always deployed a drying unit with its wood storage phase, even before its alliance with Aqualogy. The company’s system is designed to handle woody biomass in the form of chips over 5mm, and maintaining

the field of drying difficult biomass such as sewage sludge and we see a future to use more complicated biomass like this in our reactor. For now, though, we are gasifying virgin, recycled and heavy contaminated wood such as declassed rail road slippers,’ says Dalimier. The Aqualogy STC thermal sludge drying system uses processed air at low temperature, helping to reduce sludge volume by 70%, and the possibility of its recycle in agriculture. The

low working temperature, between 65-80°C means that energy from other processes and heat pumps can be used, and energy recovery imported. This is a key feature that attracted Xylowatt to Aqualogy’s drying system in particular. Dalimier explains: ‘It is a specific dryer that uses a low temperature — the same low temperature that we produce in our installation. Our gasification technology produces syngas that can be used in a controlled heat and power (CHP) engine to produce electricity. This engine then needs to be cooled, and in doing so hot water is produced. Aqualogy can use this hot water in its dryer and that is why we chose the dryer from Aqualogy — because it is working at the temperature which is available in our technology.’ In addition, Dalimier says the dryers are compact and are efficient for odour and dust emission — an advantage, he says, when Xylowatt uses more complicated feedstock than woody biomass. A champagne supernova Xylowatt has been developing its gasification technology — the Notar reactor — for over 10 years and today it is considered an effective solution as it produces a clean, cold gas without tar. Its solution is suitable for two types of applications: CHP production and renewable syngas production for industrial processes. 1. CHP production: Xylowatt supplied its Notar gasification

Bioenergy Insight


gasification Bioenergy reactor to the Belgian Ardennes where a biomass gasification plant was built to supply the village’s district heating network. The technology was installed after the municipality of Gedinne wanted to recycle its forest residues in the form of woodchips. This installation made in 2007 was the first marketed Notar gasification reactor by Xylowatt. During the gasification process, Xylowatt’s Notar module converts the wood into combustible gas. This gas powers an internal combustion engine that in turn drives an alternator to generate electricity. The heat is collected from a gas cooling process, and from the engine’s cooling circuit and exhaust gas. The wood is dried in 200m3 silos before it is gasified. 2. Renewable syngas production for industrial processes: In the second quarter of 2011, Verallia, a world leader in glass packaging, approached Xylowatt as it sought to reduce its carbon footprint created when producing its champagne bottles. Xylowatt teamed up with BioViVes and together they created an application technology which allows the use of grapevines by-product as a fuel and converts it into gas to heat the ovens at high temperatures. The partnership saw the implementation of a demonstration project with gasification plant at the champagne bottle production site. Today, Saint-Gobain Packaging has joined forces with Xylowatt, GDF-Suez, the Centre de cooperation Internationale en Recherche Agronomique and the Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne in order to develop a project for the recycling of by-products of Champagne vineyards. The aim of the project is to supply the Oiry glass furnace in Champagne with gas produced from the

Bioenergy Insight

The association of the STC dryer and Xylowatt gasification technology will give an attractive combined product wood by-products of pruning. Xylowatt’s biomass gasification plant will convert these wood

by-products into a renewable syngas that will then replace a percentage of fossil fuels

used in manufacturing champagne bottles. The programme is expected to last for three years, during which time Xylowatt’s xW1000g (1MW LCV gas) module will be installed and the partners hope to obtain a substitution rate of 7% of the fuel supplying the glass furnace, where the operational target is a substitution of a minimum of 50%. l

IFP2012_Bioenergy insight magazine _135x190:Layout 1 27.07.12 09:46 Seite 1

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August 2012 • 53


Bioenergy torrefaction Can torrified biomass make the leap to large-scale commercial production?

Torrefaction breakthrough imminent? by Phil Thane

W

orldwide, 7.2 billion tonnes of coal is burnt every year, most of it in power generation. Co-firing biomass with coal is the easiest, cheapest way to reduce fossil fuel consumption, and many power companies currently use white pellets made from compressed woodchips as part of their fuel mix. It is not ideal though. Coal is pulverised to dust before burning, but wood has different burning characteristics and performs better in pieces about 1mm diameter. A co-firing plant needs not just separate, dry storage facilities for wood pellets; it also needs an extra pulverising plant and a separate feed into the furnace too. Even then co-firing beyond about 5% changes the performance of the furnace, leading to issues with efficiency, stability and emissions. It is a quick fix for the power industry but as renewable energy targets rise, the sector needs something better. Torrefaction is a process akin to pyrolysis, but carried out at a lower temperature (200-340°C) so that a higher proportion of the calorific value of the feedstock is retained in the resulting solid. Following torrefaction the material can be pressed into pellets or briquettes

54 • August 2012

4EnergyInvest’s Biocoal production plant at Amel, Belgium

which share many of the characteristics of coal. The aim is to produce a ‘biocoal’ that is interchangeable with conventional coal and can be co-fired in any ratio as market conditions and renewable targets demand. To satisfy the power companies it must be hydrophobic so it can be transported like coal in open railcars and stored outside. It must crush to dust in the same pulverising mills as coal, have very similar burning characteristics in the furnace and a comparable energy content. R&D Torrefaction (from the French for roasting) has been widely

used in preparing food and drink ingredients for hundreds of years. Empirical methods led to interesting flavours, but to produce millions of tonnes of torrefied pellets economically requires serious R&D. One of the first groups to investigate fuel torrefaction was the Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN), which is still involved today. Many universities have also taken up the challenge, some working with companies on the practical problems, others aiming to learn more about the processes involved in torrefaction in the hope that better understanding of the basic science will lead to new methods. At the University of

Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment (IonE) Don Fosnacht, director of the Centre for Applied Research and Technology Development, has been studying how the size of the biomass particles used affect the process. Fosnacht explains that they have been testing different chip sizes from 50mm down to what he refers to as ‘microchips’ at around 12.5mm. The aim is to get uniform heating throughout out the material to retain as much of the original energy content of the material as possible. Unfortunately biomass is quite an efficient insulator. The optimum size depends on the material, and the process used to transfer the heat to the chips.

Bioenergy Insight


torrefaction Bioenergy Inherently thin material such as straw requires a much shorter residence time. IonE uses a small rotary kiln as a research reactor; to test the physical qualities of the materials produced the department has a small pelleting plant and briquetting equipment. The sequence of events in torrefaction observed at IonE is that first any water in the biomass is evaporated, then volatile light hydrocarbons (alcohols and aldehydes) are driven off. Following that the larger, more complex hydrocarbons such as hemicellulose start to break down, destroying the cellular structure of the material. This is the crucial stage — with no cells to contain water the material becomes hydrophobic. Another promising technology under investigation at IonE is hydrothermal carbonisation, sometimes called ‘steam explosion’. In this technique there is no need to dry the material. It is heated to 220-240°C under more than 6bar pressure so the water content cannot boil off. The biomass breaks down in much the same way as in torrefaction and the water is released in a controlled ‘explosion’ when the pressure is released, resulting in powdered product that can be pelleted or compressed into briquettes. At the University of Leeds in the UK, Jenny Jones heads a team of researchers funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council investigating biomass torrefaction. The project is exploring how the torrefaction process can be scaled up, with a view to producing design guidelines for industrial engineers. Whereas in Minnesota IonE is carrying out openended research and making its findings available to all, the Leeds team is working in collaboration with Alstom Power, Drax Power, EON

Bioenergy Insight

and RWE nPower, and is much more focussed on its industrial requirements. Pilot plant and technologies Most torrefaction plants have three sections: a combustor where a proportion of the feedstock is burnt to provide process heat, an atmospherecontrolled (oxygen free) process reactor where the torrefaction takes place, and a feedstock drier using residual heat to dry incoming feedstock. Gasses released during torrefaction may be used in drying, or in power generation. Direct heating using flue gas from the combustor can be efficient, but care is needed to ensure that there is no oxygen present which could allow the process to ‘run away’ and burn all the feedstock. The Torspyd system developed by Thermya based near Bordeux, France uses direct heating in a vertical column. Damp biomass is added to the top and hot gas supplied through a grate at the bottom. As the material passes downwards it is first dried then torrefied. The process is continuous; more material added to the top and torrefied material removed from the bottom. Where indirect heating is used, the focus is on improving the efficiency of heat transfer between the heating medium and the feedstock. Rotary kilns are one method, tumbling the biomass over an array of heated tubes. It is a relatively simple technology but by no means the only one. Rotawave Biocoal uses microwave energy in its Targeted Intelligent Energy System (TIES) process. Microwaves heat by direct interaction with the molecular structure and are able to penetrate right into the biomass chips so the size of the chip has no influence on the reaction time, nor on the degree of pyrolysis achieved. Most torrefaction processes require such a long residence

time, generally 20 minutes or more, that batch processing is the norm. Rotawave’s process is much faster and can operate in continuous mode. Gases released from the biomass can be used to dry incoming feedstock. Topell Energy in the Netherlands has taken a different approach to heat transfer in the reactor by licencing the Torbed reactor developed by Torftech in the UK. Torbed technology is widely used in many different industrial processes and Topell has the exclusive right to use and develop Torbed for biomass torrefaction. The Torbed reactor consists of a cylindrical reactor chamber where a rotating and high-speed flow of process gas entrains the raw material, carrying it in suspension on a ‘bed’. This results in intense contact between the hot process gas and the feed material, reducing reaction time. Topell has taken this basic design, modified it and can now build its own plant. The Topell system uses four reactors in series, with the material being passed from one to another to give a sufficient residence time in a continuous process. Total time from biomass in to torrefied material out is five minutes. Finance Building a commercial-scale plant in any industry is expensive, and raising funds for a new plant in an industry where the technology and business models are both still evolving would be difficult even without the current economic situation. Perhaps surprisingly there are investors out there looking to invest in a ‘green energy’ portfolio, and plants are being built. 4Energy Invest is a Belgiumbased renewable energy company that aims to create and manage a portfolio of small- to mid-sized biomass energy plants. Initially the company was intended to be

purely an investment business but events and experience have compelled it to become more involved in the technology. Rotawave is negotiating with UK energy companies interested in commercialising its system, and has recently signed a $20 million (€16.1 million) deal with Cate Street Capital, a US investment company, to manufacture the technology exclusively and market it in North America through Cate Street’s subsidiary Thermogen. Topell Energy has been financed by Innogy Venture Capital, itself funded by RWE Innogy. Now it has a commercial-scale demonstration plant up and running and recently found new funding partners Yellow & Blue Investment Management, founded by energy company Nuon, part of the Vattenfall group. With two large energy companies investing heavily — the latest round of funding amounted to €13 million — Topell’s future seems assured. RWE Innogy is investing heavily in biomass. Its subsidiary Georgia Biomass already operates a white pellet plant in Waycross, Georgia, capable of producing up to 750,000 tonnes annually for the EU market. Bernd Hartleben of RWE Innogy explains that RWE intends to build a black pellet plant alongside the existing plant. This may well turn out to be a Topell designed plant, but RWE is also assessing several rival technologies, especially for deployment in less developed countries where it may be difficult to get trained staff to manage a complex system. Without a large backer smaller companies can get into difficulties. Until recently Thermya was reported as a success story with 20,000-tonne units delivered to Grupo Lantec in Spain and to a new LMK Energy plant in Mazingarbe, France. Unfortunately the money ran out and the company was liquidated in June 2012.

August 2012 • 55


Bioenergy torrefaction

Feedstocks Torrefaction can be used on all sorts of different biomass feedstocks, but the process and the size of the feedstock particles have to be adjusted to suit. IonE has been testing herbaceous materials such as straw, and also various softwoods and hardwoods. The herbaceous materials have a higher ash content but their research shows that they can be processed at very similar temperatures, around 280300°C and have a similar yield of dry solids after processing. In addition to agricultural wastes, the researchers at IonE have been testing weeds such as Cat’s Tail (Horsetail in the UK) that can be harvested from marginal land. Feedstocks like this are never going to supply millions of tonnes to utility power generators, but they could be useful in less developed regions where solid fuel is used for domestic heating and cooking. In Leeds professor Jones’ group is experimenting with coppiced willow, and miscanthus. Commercial production 4Energy’s first plant was built by Stamproy in Amel, Belgium for 4Energy’s subsidiary Renogen. Following problems in the building and commissioning, the plant was taken over by Renogen which then modified and improved it. According to Yves Crits, CEO and founder of 4Energy, Renogen changed almost everything from hardware to software. The plant is currently being commissioned and has produced around 1,000 tonnes for testing purposes. To date the longest continuous run has been around one week producing about 2 tonnes per hour. Crits sees units based on this design producing around 40,000 tonnes per year.

56 • August 2012

Building on its experience at Amel, 4Energy is looking for other opportunities. It is developing a plant at Pontrilas, England, and has permits to build in both Ham, Flanders, Belgium and in Reisbach, Germany. 4Energy is also looking at sites other than in western Europe where biomass feedstocks are plentiful. Thermogen’s first commercial site using Rotawave technology will be in Millinocket, Maine, on the grounds of pulp and paper making facilities owned by the Great Northern Paper Company (another Cate Street Capital company). In Millinocket, Thermogen has a 10-year contract to buy renewable hydroelectric power generated on-site. Renewable power reduces the cost and carbon footprint of running the microwave system. Production capacity will begin with one machine at 100,000 tonnes/year and there are plans to increase that to as much as 500,000 tonnes/year at the Millinocket location. In the longer term Thermogen plans to build additional plants in new locations. Back in Holland, Topell Energy is operating a 60,000-tonne torrefaction plant at Duiven, believed to be the largest torrefaction plant operating anywhere at present. The feedstock for the plant is a mixture of forest waste and woody waste material from landscaping operations. Containing a mix of hard and soft wood, branches, bark and leaves, it is not the clean ‘round wood’ some processes require, but the Topell system copes well with it. By refining the design a little the company hopes that its next plant will be able to produce 75,000 tonnes. Topell built the Duiven plant itself, but plans to work with EPC contractors to build plants for other operators. CEO Jules Kortenhorst says that Topell has a plan to develop larger plants and expects to build another demonstration plant at some point in the future.

Source: Topell Energy

France-based Areva group, a major player in renewable energies, has now acquired Thermya’s torrefaction technology from the liquidator.

Toppell Energy’s plant at Duiven, the Netherlands

Scale and logistics Crits talking about 4Energy’s developments in Belgium and Germany say that for them the maximum distance for feedstock supply is 100km. Topell’s Kortenhorst thinks that 75,000-tonne plants will predominate and that while it may well be feasible to build bigger, it will probably be easier to build modular designs. To supply large utility companies he believes plants in the region of 150,000 to 200,000 tonnes pa will be required. Interestingly, he also sees torrefied pellets becoming the ‘raw’ material for a range of biofuel and chemical processes in future, turning a variable feedstock into a predictable standardised one. Referring to a plant planned in the south eastern US, RWE’s Hartleben thinks it can run a large-scale plant on wood from within a 75km radius. This is made possible by the warm, damp conditions that encourage Georgia pines to

grow three times as quickly as those in the northern US, Canada or northern Europe. In the northern US, Thermogen’s first plant is in the heart of Maine’s timberland, at the end of the Golden Road timber highway. Thermogen’s initial 100,000 tonne/year plant will require roughly 250,000 tonnes of biomass for feedstock, in a region capable of sustainably providing many times more than that. Are we there yet? No, we’re not. RWE’s purchasing department is typical, it is often approaced by small start-up companies offering black pellets, but negotiations stall when RWE asks for a 1,000-tonne sample for testing. We are getting there though, with the major utilities, especially in Europe, investing in promising technologies and commercial-scale facilities under construction, black pellets are going to be part of our future energy mix. l

Bioenergy Insight


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Bioenergy Insight

August 2012 • 57


Bioenergy torrefaction While torrefaction is growing in popularity, the technology available to densify it into an energy-rich solid fuel is proving challenging

Densification challenges

T

orrefied wood today is regarded as the ‘new coal’ and besides having many similarities with coal it is predicted to replace many types of biomass in the years to come. Densified torrefied biomass has several advantages, making it a competitive feedstock compared to burning conventional biomass — raw or pelletised: • It has a higher energy density • It has a more homogenous composition • It eliminates biological activity • It has an improved grind-ability. Torrefaction combined with densification can create an extremely energy-dense fuel of around 20-25GJ/ tonne lower heating value. So far, however, efficiently densifying torrefied biomass has proved challenging. ‘The process removes almost all water and polluting volatile organic matter including part of the lignin, creasting a lot more friction in the biomass which makes it harder to densify and creates more wear,’ explains Mogens Knudsen, MD of briquette press manufacturer C.F. Nielsen. A new opportunity However, C.F. Nielsen hopes to have eliminated such issues within a couple of years. The company is developing a new briquetting machine for torrefied biomass based on its existing technology, using a ‘significant’ grant that it was awarded from

58 • August 2012

might be something. We then applied for funds from the Danish government to develop the machine.’ Knudsen explains: ‘The grant will be awarded over time as the machine is developed and the hours are spent getting everything up and running. For a company like ours, the grant gives us the opportunity to develop a product that we otherwise would not be able to due to the financial crisis.’ Market research C.F. Nielsen’s presses are producing 90mm diameter briquettes at Verdo’s plant in Grangemouth, Scotland

the Danish Energy Ministry’s EUDP (Energy Development Demonstration Program). The research project began just over a year ago and since then C.F. Nielsen has worked with around 10-15 torrefaction technology companies to gain knowledge about the process and determine what these companies are looking

for in terms of a torrefied biomass briquetting press. ‘Before this project we were quite new to the torrefaction market,’ reveals Knudsen. ‘Companies contacted us and asked if we could make briquettes out of this torrefied material. We hadn’t heard of it before but when we started exploring it we saw that it

C.F. Nielsen expects its new briquette press for torrefied biomass will be available on the market within the next couple of years. So far products from more than 10 different torrefied wood suppliers have been tested, and the company has sold its existing presses for lab-scale processes and real production. ‘It [the new briquette press] is based on our existing technology but the machine

Briquettes for biogas Manufacturing energy-dense briquettes from torrefied biomass is not the only new market C.F. Nielsen is exploring. ‘There’s a lot of things happening in briquetting at the moment and it’s no longer just about making briquettes for customers,’ Knudsen highlights. Briquettes can also be used in biogas plants using waste by-products such as straw from the bioethanol production industry. Anaerobic digestion facilities today traditionally use wet feedstocks such as slurry from animals, for example. But in 2010 C.F. Nielsen was approached by private company BioFuel Technology — active in biogas and bioethanol processes — that had a clear vision to use agricultural waste in biogas generation.

C.F. Nielsen, BioFuel Technology and the University of Aarhus in Denmark have together applied for and received a grant for an undisclosed amount from the Danish Energy Ministry’s EUDP to demonstrate a new pre-treatment technology for agricultural lignocellulosic crop residues, such as cereal straw, which allow codigestion with animal manures. A demonstration-scale plant will be installed at the University of Aarhus in Foulum later this year. It will consist of a briquetting plant with straw pre-treatment in combination with a local biogas plant. Briquettes have been treated to obtain a high availability of sugars in the straw to increase energy production.

Bioenergy Insight


torrefaction Bioenergy will be very different once it’s finished,’ Knudsen explains. Knudsen is reluctant to reveal too much information at this early stage in the project’s development. However, what he does divulge is that companies need a product that can be shipped, particularly from overseas to Europe, and it needs to eventually be hydrophobic so it does not absorb water. It also needs to be a certain size, different from its existing machines. ‘Today we can run the product on our existing machines but we need to make alterations. The body of the machine is not big enough so we have to increase capacity,’ Knudsen adds.

continues under the work of SECTOR (Production of Solid Sustainable Energy Carriers from Biomass by Means of Torrefaction), a large-scale European project with a consortium of 21 partners from industry and science, including TI (the Technological Institute), all from Denmark, and BioEndev North of Sweden. The project is focused on the further development of torrefaction-based technologies for the production of solid bioenergy carriers up to pilot-plant scale and beyond, and on supporting the market introduction of torrefaction-based bioenergy carriers as a commodity renewable solid fuel. l

SECTOR And the development of torrefaction and densification technologies

Bioenergy Insight

For more information www.cfnielsen.com

Torrefied biomass: the new coal

August 2012 • 59


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60 • August 2012

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infrastructure Bioenergy The Port of Amsterdam has decided not to add any new transhipment terminals for mineral energy to the port area until 2020. Instead it will turn its attention to becoming a major player in renewable energy

One track mind

A

s part of its efforts to lay the foundation for a ‘bio-based economy’, the Dutch government aims for renewable energy to account for 14% of national energy consumption by 2020. This involves the use of renewable natural resources for materials, chemicals, fuels, gas, electricity and heat, taking into account the concept of the value pyramid. As Europe’s fourth-largest port, second-largest coal port and the world’s largest petrol port, Amsterdam is a leading player in the mineral energy market (coal and oil products). With high-volume shipping routes and a unique location in Europe’s largest delta, the region is a dynamic international hub, providing facilities for fast and efficient transport, storage, transit, and the integration and processing of a variety of cargo flows, including energy sources. In addition, the Port of Amsterdam region also contributes significantly to the strong international reputation of the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area, due in part to its close ties to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. Many port companies benefit from the short distance to the airport and the partnership between the two logistics hubs, while the Port of Amsterdam (through the Port-based petrol storage provider Oiltanking) also

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provides kerosene to Schiphol via a 16km-long pipeline. Renewable energy port starting to take shape Through active recruitment, the port attracts cargo flows and renewable energy activities, of which it naturally always checks the origin. Biofuels and renewable energy are already well integrated into the Port of Amsterdam. Biomass operations are growing steadily and with biogas production at Greenmills and Waternet, biogas has also become an important biofuel. Governments are increasingly demanding that energy producers blend renewable energy sources (biofuels and biomass) with traditional energy sources (oil products and coal). The Port of Amsterdam is well positioned to be able to facilitate this. For one, oil terminal Oiltanking Amsterdam provides space to biodiesel plant Vesta Biofuels on its site. ‘They produce the biodiesel and we provide the port facilities, such as jetties, tanks, storage and transhipment facilities and blending,’ MD Peter

van Wessel says. Oiltanking also provides these services to other customers. Van Wessel, speaking of Oiltanking’s market share in biofuel, says: ‘We follow the market. There is an increasing trend for blending energy sources, although the exact proportion depends on the decisions of the European Commission. European regulations currently dictate that about 5% of energy sources must be blended. Other than that, oil trading is simply our customers’ business, and we facilitate that, always as sustainably as possible.’ Oiltanking therefore is examining how it can supply renewable energy to its terminal; has installed the best available technique (BAT) vapour recovery system in order to minimise nuisance caused by emissions and odour; has made safety its number one priority; and is always on the lookout for new sustainable trends and developments. Supported by the strong focus on sustainability of its German parent company Marquand & Bahls, Oiltanking’s sister companies also operate in a variety of biobusiness areas, including

Potential for renewable energy in Amsterdam (in millions of tonnes) Biofuels Biomass Offshore wind farms

2010 2020 0.8 3.5 0.04 6 0 0.2

wood pellets in Denmark, biogas in Germany and India, and emissions trading. Biomass: right in line Biomass activities are also growing in the Port of Amsterdam. Biomass cargo arrived at the Port’s OBA Bulk Terminal in May 2012; a ship from Vancouver, Canada carrying nearly 47,000 tonnes of wood pellets for the power company RWE, the Germany-based parent company of energy provider Essent and other companies. ‘In terms of logistics, Amsterdam is well positioned for transit to the hinterland across the Amsterdam Rhine Canal and by sea to Great Britain,’ says Hans Mattheijer, manager of OBA’s sales department. ‘A portion of that first cargo was destined for Britain. It also looks like plants in the Greater Amsterdam Area will start co-incinerating biomass. We expect to receive between 0.5 million and 1 million tonnes of biomass a year over the next four years. This goal does not yet factor in developments in Germany. ‘It’s not yet clear to what extent biomass will contribute to German electricity generation, but Germany has the potential to become a major biomass market, and Amsterdam can play a key role in facilitating the logistics.’ Mattheijer points out the similarities between biomass transhipment and agribulk transhipment: ‘The main

August 2012 • 61


Bioenergy infrastructure Strategy for sustainable growth The Port of Amsterdam has decided not to add any new transshipment terminals for mineral energy to the port area until 2020 and has been actively recruiting renewable energy companies. Existing traditional energy terminals are permitted to increase difference is that in biomass, we focus on a number of additional safety aspects. The covered transport of wood pallets in the holds of an ocean-going vessel may involve a concentration of gases, including carbon monoxide, which is hazardous to humans. Even more than for other types of cargo, we continuously measure gas levels in the hold of the ship and in the warehouses. ‘Temperature monitoring is very important as well. The two compartment warehouses we currently use for biomass are equipped with different types of sensors. We check current temperatures and temperature changes online, which allows us to prevent spontaneous combustion.’ Other Amsterdam-based bulk terminals (MAJA Stuwadoors and IGMA) are also in the process of negotiating biomass cargo. Towards a ‘bio-based economy’ Being well-represented in the energy, agribulk and recycling industries, the Port of Amsterdam is increasingly building a ‘bio-based economy’ with its various activities. A good example is ICL Fertilizers Europe C.V., which uses highphosphate residual waste streams from the port area to produce its fertiliser. Increasingly, port-based companies are ingeniously exploiting the integration of residual waste streams, the demand for raw materials, and energy production. For example, Greenmills produces renewable biofuels and green energy from organic residues,

62 • August 2012

their transshipment volumes on their own sites. The Port of Amsterdam is also creating space and facilities for other forms of alternative energy in the port area, including wind generation, and the port has played a leading role in making transshipment

including frying oil and organic waste. One of the suppliers is Cargill, which transports pulp residues from fruit juices to Greenmills through a pipeline. Increasingly sophisticated recycling methods in the port make it possible to also use this method for nonorganic waste, including by such companies as Icova, Van Gansewinkel and Granuband. Through the Afval = Grondstof (‘Waste = Raw Materials’) project and the Port of Amsterdam Sustainability and Innovation Fund (DIHA), the Port of Amsterdam promotes and supports a variety of local recycling initiatives, where residual waste streams from one company are used as raw materials by another. Increased — and more sustainable — waste efficiency Afval Energiebedrijf (AEB) has also been contributing significantly to renewable energy. The company processes household and industrial waste and converts 99% of this waste into energy (of which 53% is green energy) and raw materials. AEB annually produces 1 million MWh of electricity, serving 75% of Amsterdam households. The heat released during waste combustion is used for district heating (where AEB works in association with energy company Nuon). Between now and 2025, a total of 50,000 new and existing homes will be connected to this network. AEB also combusts sewage sludge from neighbouring company Waternet into biogas. Starting

itself more sustainable. This includes vapour recovery systems for emissionfree fuel and diesel transshipment, covered industrial lines for lowdust coal transshipment, dust monitoring for air quality, and LED lighting on the energy terminals.

in the third quarter of 2012, this gas will be converted into green gas, to be used, among other purposes, to fuel dustcarts in West Amsterdam. The remaining sewage sludge is injected into AEB’s combustion process and converted into energy. ‘We aim to work as environmentally friendly as possible,’ says Kees van den Berge, AEB’s strategy and resource director. AEB is evolving from a wasteprocessing company into a renewable energy and raw materials company, and is constantly exploring how to make its waste processes more efficient and more sustainable. ‘We are basically a large steam factory, and we’re currently exploring opportunities to create a steam network together with other local businesses,’ van den Berge explains. ‘It’s an excellent way to make a sustainable contribution to companies in the area.’ This type of steam network, for its part, can generate new activities: ‘Waternet, for example, can use our steam to process sludge and therefore generate larger amounts of raw materials and biogas. This would make one of the three digestion plants available again. If we can find ways to segregate organic waste, we can digest it in the vacant Waternet plant and convert it into green gas. We are also investigating the possibility of supplying carbon dioxide, which is released during the conversion of biogas into green gas, to the greenhouses in Aalsmeer.’

Good business Besides its many other assets, renewable energy represents good business, and it is because of that combination of ‘green’ and ‘profitable’ that renewable energy has the future. Oiltanking MD van Wessel adds: ‘Sharing our site with the biodiesel plant Vesta means long-term business. The plant requires a constant stream of products and, in turn, generates a constant stream of products as well — that’s how we keep our people busy.’ AEB only gets involved in sustainable innovations if they are profitable. While some just about break even, others are genuine money spinners. One of these lucrative activities is increasing the recovery of metals from bottom ash (i.e. the non-combustible residue of combustion). ‘There’s so much value in that activity that it’s very interesting from a financial perspective,’ Van den Berge adds. Amsterdam’s central location, the availability of excellent storage, transshipment, processing and production facilities, the high quality of the business environment and the increasing number of renewable energy activities allow companies to conduct solid, future-proof business in the renewable-energy market. As a result, the Port of Amsterdam is increasingly becoming an attractive international logistics hub for renewable energy. l For more information:

www.portofamsterdam.nl

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5th Annual Waste-to-Fuels Conference & Trade Show Groton, Connecticut Mystic Marriott Hotel & Spa

September 16-18, 2012 Why You Should Attend: • Interested in converting waste materials to fuel and/or energy? • Want to save time and money learning how? • Want to avoid the mistakes others have made and learn how to successfully design a project that works? • Want to learn how to finance a waste conversion technology project? • Want to know the latest and greatest with regard to what is going on nationally in this area? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, you need to be at our conference and trade show. We will save you a considerable amount of time and money! Conference Topics: • Municipal Solid Waste-to-Fuels & Energy Recovery • BioMass-to-Fuels & Energy Recovery • Agricultural Waste-to-Fuels & Energy Recovery • Funding Conversion Technology Projects

• Plastics-to-Fuels • Landfill Gasses-to-Energy • Waste Oils and Grease-to-Fuels

WWW.WASTE-TO-FUELS.ORG Waste-to-Fuels Conference & Trade Show Phone: 800-441-7949 Bioenergy Insight

August 2012 • xx


Bioenergy xxxx

“Unlocking The Future Potential For European Biogas Project Development” For More Information & Registration Contact: Mohammad Ahsan +44 (0) 207 981 2503 mahsan@acieu.net

“Unlocking The Future Potential For European Biogas Project Developement” For More Information & Registration Contact: Mohammad Ahsan +44 (0) 207 981 2503 mahsan@acieu.net xx • August 2012

Bioenergy Insight


event review Bioenergy James Barrett provides highlights from the latest AEBIOM conference this summer

Bamboozled by a lack of interest in biogas

T

he third annual AEBIOM European Bioenergy conference took place in Brussels, Belgium for three days in late June this year and it saw lots of debate and discussion about the future of the European stance on bioenergy production and consumption. Around 250 participants gathered to reflect on issues such as energy taxation, the European ‘2050 road map’ guidelines, achieving carbon neutrality and future input from other continents. AEBIOM president Gustav Melin opened the conference and kicked off an afternoon-long forum looking at many different EU policies and future hopes. Melin’s main points during his opening gambit were to highlight some of the positive aspects of Europe’s moves towards achieving energy sustainability while warning that consumption will heavily increase by 2050. He applauded a Swedish initiative which aims for at least 50% of its transport sector running on renewable biofuels by 2030 and also that Europe had produced 12 million tonnes of wood pellets in 2011, which will hopefully continue to rise to end such huge reliance on imports from Canada, Russia and the US. He also felt that attention should be diverted away from deforestation as a cause of carbon issues, claiming that it ‘only made up 9% of the 2010 global carbon budget and not the 20% reported’. He

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also revealed that research conducted by Halmstead University in Sweden showed that ‘Europe could save up to €14 billion if active widespread use of CHP was online’. Further discussing the issue of carbon debt, the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety MEP Bas Eickhout warned ‘more haste, less speed’ when it comes to chasing lower carbon targets by 2020: ‘Bioenergy and biomass are still a direct part of the carbon cycle of course. However, if we run too fast to try and reach a 20% reduction by 2020, it may result in substandard processes to do it.’ He added that while biomass can be a ‘closed carbon loop’ source of energy, ILUC is still a major topic of discussion and that ‘the use of pristine

forests could result in higher levels of carbon over the next five to 10 years’. Senior advisor to the Danish minister of Climate and Energy, Jesper Lorentzen, then brought attendees up to speed on what his home country is putting in place to help achieve ‘total renewable energy reliance by 2050’. By 2020 half the traditional electricity consumption in Denmark will be generated by wind power, aiding in the reduction of greenhouse gases by 35% when compared to 1990. Lorentzen then alluded to plans to phase out coal in power plants and oil burners by 2030, before all Danish energy supply across the board (transport, electricity, industrial, heat,

etc.) will be generated by renewable energy, including biomass, by 2050. ‘It is hard to store energy created by wind power, so biomass will be all-important as we chase these aims. Our Maabjerg energy plant project, which will convert an estimated 650,000 tonnes of biomass into biogas annually, came online this spring after several years of planning,’ he added. In an impromptu speech by Heinz Kopetz, current president of the World Bioenergy Association, he made a passionate call for countries to try and attain 30% renewable energy use by 2020: ‘We should leave fossil fuels in the ground and look to improve the production and handling of bioenergy.

August 2012 • 65


Bioenergy event review Let’s also resolve the issue of indirect land use change so we can focus on renewable energy development with the starting point being, I believe, bioheat.’ Forward planning Bruno Schmitz, the head of New and Renewable Energy Sources at DG of Research and Innovation, gave the conference a talk on the European Industrial Bioenergy Initiative (EIBI). The key objective of the EIBI, developed by the European Commission (EC) and the European Biofuels Technology Platform, is to enable commercial availability of advanced bioenergy by 2020, which could provide a significant contribution to the bioenergy markets with large scale deployment. ‘The EIBI wants to view Europe as a whole and try not to look at projects or countries as single entities,’ Schmitz relayed. ‘Continent-wide projects will be given consideration on the basis of sustainability potential and feedstock availability, for example.’ Officially launched in 2010, there are seven value chains supported by the EIBI (including biomass, biofuels and biogas) and it has an estimated budget of €8 billion to fund between 10 and 15 fully operational plants. ‘It costs 10 times the amount of a pilot plant to convert it into a flagship one, so decisions will not be taken lightly,’ he added. And Hans van Steen, head of unit at the EC DG for Energy, applauded all members for making progress towards hitting 2020 targets despite many still quite a way off their individual goals. He also spoke of an aspiration that all sectors, like power, transport and industrial for example, will be using over 80% of renewable energy including bioenergy. The EC has made a marked increase in budget for its

66 • August 2012

Smart Cities and Communities Initiative (SCCI) and increased the amount of sectors it will serve. The SCCI began in 2011 to support cities and regions in ambitious measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2020. The SCCI budget for the transport and energy sectors started off at €81 million but it will jump up to €365 million and a new sector joins the mix, namely the information and communications technology industry. All three will be asked to pool technology and knowledge to try and achieve the end goal in cities throughout Europe. The first day was rounded off by a lively drinks reception and seated dinner held at the European Parliament. Part two It seems that, when it comes down to the bioenergy sector, both public awareness and market attractiveness are always in need of a boost and one of the first sessions on day two of AEBIOM was all about just that. An online platform called Cross Border Bioenergy, created by a consortium of bioenergy associations including SveBio, SKBIOM and FinBio, has updated in its is attempts to be a ‘one top shop’ for all those interested in becoming involved in bioenergy or those wanting to know the current state of the industry. The site focuses on five areas of the industry: biogas, biofuels, small scale heat, biomass district heating and biomass combined heat and power. Users can now search the interactive maps and read updates on such subjects like availability of certain feedstocks, current regional or country productivity and perceived market attractiveness. There is one more update to go before the site is ‘finished’ but it may look to include

information on subjects like ILUC in the future also.

CHP applications and in high density metropolitan areas.

Shocking

Knocking on wood

Bioelectricity took centre stage at the second session and principle of Finland-based management consultancy, Juha Elo, looked at the difficulties in being able to benchmark how the EU is moving forward. ‘The likes of the UK, Sweden, Poland, Belgium and Italy work within green standard certification for bioelectricity while the rest of the EU use feed-in tariffs,’ he said. ‘As support schemes vary massively from country to country it is difficult to obtain a general benchmark to work from.’ Small-scale biomass production has more support than the larger end of the scale he explained, but co-firing of biomass for electricity is still only supported by some, including Spain, Poland and Denmark, but not by all: ‘Due to the difference in biomass prices and policies, no one country can say they are leading the way in this sector.’ However, Elo believes biomass represents good investment opportunities moving forward as it is the least likely to be affected by any overall energy policy changes. Biomass business development director of energy company Vattenfall, Hans Dieter Hermes, revealed the company will be increasing its biomass portfolio by utilising feedstocks like residue woodchips, white pellets/ briquettes and refined pellets, as it looks to reduce its CO2 by a third before 2020. ‘Despite biomass not being the cheapest feedstock on the market currently, its potential and future worth cannot be ignored. We are very keen to back biomass created electricity,’ Hermes said. He pinpointed a few reasons for using biomass in coal plants including its reliability, contribution to steady greenhouse gas reduction and that it can be used in both

Wood pellets were a major factor on day two, too. President of the European Pellet Council, Christian Rakos, stated that Europe’s demand for pellets is growing at a rate of 20% a year (Europe imported 2.5 million tonnes in 2010) and yet it remains consistently difficult for European producers to win customers who are very price orientated. ‘If there are aggressive attempts to extend the European market share then prices inevitably get driven down, particularly if it is a new company starting up,’ he explained. ‘As pellet demand rises against a falling timber stock, as a lot of our pellets are a by-product of sawdust, woodchips could be a good alternative source for long-term provision.’ Rakos feels a new pellet providing company needs at least a year to produce topquality feedstock whereas established businesses are at the mercy of the weather when it comes to deciding stock levels. ‘A cold winter in most countries would mean a 20% surge in pellet demand on average but, if that doesn’t happen, can businesses afford to have a storehouse full of pellets sitting there doing nothing? Both the business and the consumer need to feel secure through a balanced relationship’, he added. Rakos feels pellets will be vital for Europe moving forward with its energy project, but safety and storage should not be forgotten about in any race to implement new producers or distributors. However Seth Ginther, executive director of the US Industrial Pellet Association, believes Europe’s thirst for pellet imports will not be quenched by 2020 with a predicted 50 million tonnes potentially required.

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event review Bioenergy ‘US forest management is at a very high level, especially in the south-east,’ he said. ‘We are managing more sustainable forests and harvesting more timber now since 1776. We go through a reforestation period once every 10 to 20 years and younger trees absorb more carbon dioxide to boot.’ Ginther also added that the supply line from US shores is becoming ‘greener’ too, as bulk dry pellet shipments can now generate greenhouse gas emissions a fraction of that when driven long distance in a truck. And the Canadians are major players in this arena too, providing 1.2 million tonnes of pellets to Europe which includes 51% of the total used in the UK. Around 90% of all Canadian exports come off the west coast and there could be more to come according to

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executive director at the Wood Pellet Association of Canada, Gordon Murray. ‘We could be looking at a 300% growth in our pellet production by 2020 and not just for export reasons,’ he said. ‘We utilise a lot of sawdust and logging residues now, which used to just be burnt away, and we’ll have to provide more internally too as a new government regulation regarding coal emissions comes into effect in 2015.’ Biogas rises Agata Przadka of the European Biogas Association (EBA), which promotes sustainable biogas use in Europe, described biogas as ‘multi-talented’ and is still a bit bamboozled as to why some EU countries still do not consider it in their renewable energy source mix.

‘It can be used in heat and electricity generation, as biomethane and a natural fertiliser and yet the likes of Bulgaria, Hungary and Austria are still seemingly “ignoring” it,’ she claimed. The likes of Austria, Denmark, the UK, Sweden and Switzerland have been making strides with anaerobic digesters but it is Germany that leads the way, housing roughly 80% of Europe’s biogas sector. Przadka introduced the Green Gas Grids (GGG) project as a way of boosting the market. It will be a three-year project funded by the Intelligent Energy for Europe programme and co-ordinated by German energy agency Dena. ‘GGG aims to realise the significant contribution of biomethane to the Renewable Energy Directive (RED)

targets of 20% renewable energy and 10% renewable energy in transport by 2020, as well as the renewable energy targets set by individual EU member states in their Renewable Energy Action Plans,’ she added. The project’s objective is to measurably increase the production and use of biomethane for transport, heat and electricity by addressing the most hindering barriers to biomethane deployment in the EU, both in forerunner and starter countries. ‘The Czech Republic went slightly over a target of 147MWh for biogas recently and it stopped production because “it had hit target”. This is disappointing and I hope GGG and the EBA can help make sure things like that don’t happen in the future,’ Przaka added. l

August 2012 • 67


Bioenergy events & advert index Bioenergy events Event

Venue Date

The Renewables Event

NEC Birmingham, UK

Mon

Tue

Wed

3rd Biomass Pellets Trade Asia

1

2

Thu

Sat11 September 2012 Sun

Fri

Seoul, South Korea

3

4

5th Annual Waste-to-Fuels Conference & Trade Show

5

6

Groton, Connecticut, US

12-13 September 2012

7

16-18 September 2012

SMi Energy from Waste conference

Copthorne Tara Hotel, London, UK

17-18 September 2012

BioM2E Global Bioenergy Congress 2012

Amsterdam, the Netherlands

25-27 September 2012

Lignofuels 2012

Stockholm, Sweden

26-27 September 2012

12th International Conference on Wood Energy

Fairground Augsburg/Germany

26-27 September 2012

8

9

Platts Biomass Power Generation 2012

10

11

12

London, UK

13

14

1-2 October 2012

12th Pellets Industry Forum

Berlin, Germany

9 October 2012

EBEC

Stoneleigh Park, England

10-11 October 2012

2012 TAPPI Bioenergy & Bioproducts Conference

Savannah, Georgia, US

17-19 October 2012

Expobioenergia

Valladolid, Spain

23-25 October 2012

15 16 17 USIPA 2nd Annual Exporting Pellets Conference

18 New Orleans, LA 19

20

212012 28-30 October

Advanced Biofuels Markets

San Francisco, US

29-30 October 2012

Fourth International Symposium On Energy From Biomass And Waste

Venice, Italy

12 November 2012

5th Biofuels International Conference 22

Antwerp, Belgium

21-22 November 2012

The Future World of Biogas

London, UK

21-22 November 2012

23

24

25

National Advanced Biofuels Conference & Expo

Houston, Texas

27

26

28

27-29 November 2012

Bioenergy Commodity Trading 2012

Amsterdam, the Netherlands

28-29 November 2012

Energy Now expo 2013

Telford, UK

13-14 February 2013

International Biomass Conference & Expo

Minneapolis, Minnesota, US

8-10 April 2013

BiogasWorld 2013

Berlin

23-25 April 2013

Messe Wien, Vienna, Austria

4-6 June 2013

29 30 Europe Renewable Energy World

31

Advert index Andritz Feed & Biofuel AS

Front Cover

Andritz Feed & Biofuel AS

22

Peterson Corporation

2

RotoChopper Inc

25

BĂźhler AG

7

Rayco Manufacturing Inc

27 57

The Haigh Engineering Company

11

CF Nielsen A/S

Morbark Inc

15

Biopark Terneuzen

Williams Crusher

19

68 • August 2012

Outside Back Cover

Bioenergy Insight (ISSN 2046-2476) is publised six times a year by Horseshoe Media Limited, Marshall House, 124 Middleton Road, Morden, Surrey, SM4 6RW, United Kingdom. The 2012 annual subscription price is $240. Airfreight and mailing in the USA by Agent named Air Business, C/O Worldnet Shipping USA Inc., 155-11 146th Street, Jamaica, New York, NY11434. Periodicals postage pending at Jamaica NY 11431. US Postmaster: Send address changes to Bioenergy Insight, C/O Air Business Ltd / 155-11 146th Street, Jamaica, New York, NY11434 Subscription records are maintained at Horseshoe Media Limited, Marshall House, 124 Middleton Road, Morden, Surrey, SM4 6RW, United Kingdom. Air Business Ltd is acting as our mailing agent. USPS number: 000-756

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Bioenergy xxxx

Increasing economic efficiency, conserving resources and preserving the environment Biopark Terneuzen represents a new thinking in the creation of bio and agro-industrial sustainability. Through its ‘Smart Links’, Biopark Terneuzen promotes and facilitates the exploitation of key synergies between businesses located in the Gent-Terneuzen Canal area. Specifically the potential to exchange and utilise each other’s by and waste streams, as feedstock or utility supplements for their own processes, contributes to their productivity, the conservation of non-renewable resources and the reduction of the environmental burden. Biopark Terneuzen is managed by Zeeland Seaports.

xx • August 2012 Bioenergy Insight Biopark Terneuzen - P.O. Box 132 - 4530 AC Terneuzen - The Netherlands - Tel: +31 (0)115 64 74 00 - www.bioparkterneuzen.com

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