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November/December 2013 Volume 4 • Issue 6

Doubling up

Everbright International reveals why it entered China’s biomass market two years ago

The RO versus CfD regimes

What are the key differences between the current Renewables Obligation and the Contracts for Difference?

Regional focus: bioenergy in Asia

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contents Bioenergy

Contents Issue 6 • Volume 4 November/December 2013 Horseshoe Media Limited Marshall House 124 Middleton Road, Morden, Surrey SM4 6RW, UK publisher Margaret Dunn Tel: +44 (0)20 8687 4126 EDITOR Keeley Downey Tel: +44 (0)20 8687 4183 Deputy EDITOR James Barrett Tel: +44 (0)20 8687 4146 INTERNATIONAL Sales MANAGER Anisha Patel Tel: +44 (0) 203 551 5752 North America sales representative Matt Weidner +1 610 486 6525 PRODUCTION Alison Balmer Tel: +44 (0)1673 876143 SUBSCRIPTION RATES £130/€160/$210 for 6 issues per year. Contact: Lisa Lee Tel: +44 (0)20 8687 4160 Fax: +44 (0)20 8687 4130

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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 in this magazine should not be construed as those of the publisher. ISSN 2046-2476

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3 Comment 4

Biomass news


Biogas news

12 Biopower news

17 Biopellet news 20 Technology news 28 Green page

29 Incident report 30 FITs: No longer a fit for Germany? 31 Out with the old, in with the new 32 EPA broadens ‘heating oil’ definition 33 Bioenergy: the RO versus CfD regimes 36 Doubling up Energy giant Everbright International is building its second biomass power generation plant in China 38 There’s an Elephant in the room Independent biogas producer Green Elephant has big dreams for its mini power plant 41 Plant update 42 Attracting investors Asia’s biomass-to-power sector is relatively new but the region is making headways that could see it rival Europe in the not-too-distant future 45 Going carbon negative 47 The biomass trading house After it recently signed an agreement with Viridis Energy to market its wood pellets, trading house Ekman reveals what pellet producers should look for when choosing an agent 49 Galvanizing steel 51 Fresh out the box A new cube-shaped bin is giving biomass conveyors a run for their money 52 Pane-less biogas production 54 Cashing in on chemicals How might the recently introduced Qualifying Renewable Chemical Production Tax Credit Act benefit biochemical producers and the US economy as a whole? 56 Can biomass replace crude oil? 57 A hot topic 58 A new technology platform for renewable ‘crude’ Does a new hydrothermal liquefaction technology hold more promise than pyrolysis and gasification? 60 Biomass and waste gasification

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2013 Volume 4 • Issue 6

62 Risks of a biomass fuel

Doubling up

Everbright International reveals why it entered China’s biomass market two years ago

64 From the cow’s mouth Danish researchers are looking into novels ways of reducing cattle emissions

The RO versus CfD regimes

What are the key differences between the current Renewables Obligation and the Contracts for Difference?

66 Mass flow measuring

68 De-packaging feedstock for digestion 69 Events Ad index

Regional focus: bioenergy in Asia

Front cover courtesy of Biodome Bioenergy front cover_Nov-Dec_2013.indd 1

08/11/2013 10:33

November/December 2013 • 1

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You are not gambling when you choose

Biofuels International is the industry’s ONLY audited magazine. Our BPA audit assures you that our circulation and readership numbers are correct. This information proves you’re saying the right thing to the right people in the right place. January/February 2013 Issue 1 • volume 7

The 5% equation


How is Europe reacting to the EC’s latest transportation fuel proposals?

Double counting Nothing but a headache?

UPM Biofuels 2 • November/December 2013

UPM Biofuels Regional focus: biofuels in southeast Asia and Australasia Regional focus: biofuels in Europe FC_Biofuels_November_2012.indd 1

22/01/2013 14:36

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comment Bioenergy

Two sides to the story


Keeley Downey Editor

ne month after Japan took its last operating nuclear reactor offline, the UK announced it is to house a new nuclear station. Japan’s 50 nuclear reactors have all been shut down following the Fukushima disaster of 2011 and not yet come back online. While 12 of these have sought permission to restart, they are still awaiting approval and it is not known when this might happen, although forecasts range from between December this year and mid-2014. As a result of these closures, Japan has been forced to import tremendous volumes of fuels such as coal and liquid gas. It is also one of the largest importers of wood fuels and, until the second quarter of 2013, was the world’s biggest importer of woodchips before it was surpassed by China. Additionally, the nation is one of Asia’s biggest importers of wood pellets. Between 2011 and 2012 it took in 207,000 tonnes, the

majority of which were used for co-firing at power plants. On page 42 we delve further into what is happening across Asia with regards to bioenergy and speak to the likes of CHE Group, which has just secured a multi-million dollar contract to build 20 10MW rice husk biomass plants across south western Vietnam. The UK government has given the green light for a two-reactor nuclear station named Hinkley Point C. Planned for Somerset, the plant will be built by a consortium led by French energy firm EDF Energy and comprise investors from China. It will generate power for 60 years, helping the nation shift away from fossil fuels towards alternative energies. But, with a lack of support for power-only biomass and co-firing plants under the new contracts for difference (CfD) scheme, the government’s stance on low-carbon power seems to be as as unclear as ever. One thing that has become clear recently is, after years of research and development,

commercial volumes of biomass-based ethanol are finally being produced as Beta Renewables inaugurated the world’s first large-scale second generation biofuels plant in Crescentino, Italy on 9 October. The plant will use non-food biomass sources as feedstock. As reported by our sister publication Biofuels International, Beta’s CEO Guido Ghisolfi said at the inauguration: ‘When the plans were announced to start work on the site, they were met with global scepticism. The company has now proved the critics wrong and this plant is the symbol of economic recovery in Italy.’ Congratulations to Beta for achieving such an important milestone for the industry and we look forward to seeing many more plants following in its footsteps in the coming years. We hope you find our final issue of 2013 useful and look forward to seeing you in the New Year! Best wishes, Keeley

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November/December 2013 • 3

xxxxxx Bioenergy

biomass news

A*Star and KITECH to research biochemicals A*Star’s Institute of Chemical and Engineering Sciences (ICES) has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Korea Institute of Industrial Technology (KITECH), that will have them carry out research into sustainable chemicals, specifically biomass-based chemicals. The collaboration will see researchers from both institutes carry out R&D and build on the expertise in chemical and bio-catalysis areas for the development

of green and bio-based chemicals and polymers. KITECH explores C3-C6 renewable molecules based on conversion pathways and green processing. Research collaboration areas include joint R&D on bio-based platform chemicals, bio-processing, pre-treatment of biomass and other topics related to biomass-to-chemicals. ‘This partnership will enable us to develop new processes with the right skills to grow this industry with economic and societal outcomes for Korea and Singapore,’ says Keith Carpenter, executive director at ICES. The global chemical industry is projected to grow 3 to 6% per year up to 2025, with the bio-based chemicals market share rising from 2% in 2005 to 22% by 2025. l

Plant opening is ‘beginning of new era’ for advanced biofuels Beta Renewables, a cellulosic biofuels business and part of the Mossi Ghisolfi Group, and Novozymes, a producer of industrial enzymes, marked the official opening of the world’s largest advanced biofuels facility in northern Italy this October.

Situated in fields outside the city of Crescentino, it is claimed to be ‘the first plant in the world’ to be designed and built to produce 75 million litres of bioethanol a year from agricultural residues and energy crops at commercial-scale using enzymatic conversion. ‘The advanced biofuels market presents transformational economic, environmental and social opportunities and, with this opening, we pave the way for a green revolution in the chemical sector,’ says Beta Renewables’ CEO Guido Ghisolfi. Beta and Novozymes formed their strategic partnership

Beta Renewables’ plant utilises wheat straw, rice straw and arundo donax

in October 2012 and, at the inauguration, Ghisolfi and Novozymes CEO Peder Holk Nielsen were joined by Flavio Zanonat, Italy’s minister for economic development. There were also representatives from the European Commission, as well as more than 500 global stakeholders. ‘This opening presents a leap forward and is the

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beginning of a new era for advanced biofuels,’ says Nielsen. ‘Here we will turn agricultural waste into millions of litres of lowemission green fuel, proving that cellulosic ethanol is no longer a distant dream. It is here, it is happening and it is ready for largescale commercialisation.’ The plant uses wheat straw,

rice straw and arundo donax, a high-yielding energy crop grown on marginal land. Lignin, a polymer extracted from biomass during the ethanol production process, is used at an attached power plant which generates enough power to meet the facility’s energy needs. Any excess green electricity sold to the local grid. l

Bioenergy Insight

biomass news

Cool Planet launches biochar soil amendment Cool Planet Energy Systems, a developer of small-scale biorefineries, has launched its biochar soil amendment product — Cool Terra — for commercial agricultural trials. The company has assembled a biochar research team to develop and produce high-performance biochar soil amendments designed for specific applications. Cool Planet says it plans to continue expanding application opportunities with selected partners in the agricultural community leading to commercial product release in 2014. Cool Planet has shown yield improvements averaging 60% and input reductions of 40%, combined with accelerated growth rates, in commercial field trials in California, enabling cost-effective farming in regions with structured drought such as California and Arizona. ‘We are in commercial trials with our proprietary Cool Terra biochar soil amendment and we plan to add new partners that will lead to large-scale commercialisation,’ says Rick Wilson of Cool Planet. l

Cool Planet’s biochar soil amendment is currently in commercial trials

ERB secures financing for new biomass projects Renewable Energies of Brazil (ERB), an enterprise involved with the generation of biomass-derived power, has concluded its second fundraising cycle for the development of new projects for the coproduction of energy and steam. Endespar and Fundo Caixa Ambiental (Environmental Fund Bank), run by Mantiq Investments from Santander Bank, have invested $300 million (€220.9 million) and will join the

company’s shareholders’ board, along with the FI-FGTS (Fundo de Investimento do Fundo de Garantia por Tempo de Serviço) and Rioforte Investments of the Banco Espirito Santo. ERB says it plans to sign agreements for another four new projects between now and 2014, and a further three up until 2015. The company says its investment portfolio is estimated at R$1.7 billion (€568 million), with the resources of this business strategy coming from the main company investors. The ERB’s fundraising process had the financial assistance of the Morgan Stanley and Espirito Santo Banks, and legal counselling from the TozziniFreire law office. l

KIT produces first batch of liquid from biomass Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), in cooperation with Chemieanlangenbau Chemnitz, has produced renewable fuel at its Bioliq pilot plant. With the synthesis stage of the plant now operational, all stages of the Bioliq process (flash pyrolysis, highpressure entrained-flow gasification and synthesis) are online and the pilot facility is a step closer to producing environmentally compatible fuels from residual biomass. The project will now be completed by testing the entire

Bioenergy Insight

process chain and optimising it for industrial scale production. KIT, which developed the Bioliq process, predicts the pilot plant will begin supplying biofuel from straw by mid-2014. ‘The plant sections that have already started operation, and the new synthesis stage of the Bioliq pilot plant, make the demonstration of KIT,’ says the company’s VP for research and innovation Peter Fritz. Jörg Sauer, head at KIT Institute of catalysis research and technology, adds: ‘We can test new developments directly in the pilot plant on a scale relevant to industry. In this way, our research findings will be commercialised rapidly in the future.’ l

November/December 2013 • 5

biomass news

New report shows carbon benefits of biomass A new report by Bridging with Biomass, a coalition of North American and European wood pellet producers, suggests the use of solid biomass for power generation achieves significant carbon savings. The coalition has called on the European Commission to take these findings into account when establishing policies ‘so as to facilitate the longterm investment and legal certainty needed for sustainable biomass to continue to play its essential role on decarbonising Europe’s energy supply’. The study reveals that, when assumptions and real data from the field are used for modelling forest carbon dynamics, the production of energy from sustainable solid biomass results in an ‘immediate’ or ‘very rapid’ contribution to climate change mitigation. It also says solid biomass enables European energy utilities to reduce carbon emissions from coal-fired plants and is expected to contribute to meeting the EU’s 2020 renewable energy target. The report — Forest Sustainability and Carbon Balance of EU Importation of North American Forest Biomass for Bioenergy Production — was produced in collaboration with several European energy utilities and organisations. It

Biomass will help utilities meet the EU’s 2020 renewable energy target

focuses on the southeast region of the US and British Columbia in Canada, two key supply areas of forest-based fuel pellets for EU consumption, but says its key findings apply equally to European-produced pellets. The report’s findings take into account the fact that biomass originates mainly from forests which are managed under a multi-products approach, using by-

products from other wood industry activities, such as tree tops and limbs left over after harvest, sawmill residues and low quality roundwood that do not meet the standards for lumber processing. Additionally, forests from these regions are subject to strict national rules and legislation, which ensure environmental protections are in place and that forests are sustainably managed. l

Kior to double Columbus production capacity Fuels producer Kior says it will double capacity at its Columbus, US cellulosic fuels plant through the construction of a second facility incorporating its technology.

The project — Columbus II — is estimated to cost in the region of $225 million (€166.6 million). Construction will begin within 90 days of Kior raising sufficient equity and

debt capital to commence the project and it will take approximately 18 months to build and start up. The company says these latest technology improvements will see the Columbus II project allow each Columbus facility to achieve greater yields, production capacity and feedstock flexibility than the original design basis for the existing Columbus facility. This will enable it to make quicker progress towards its longterm goal of 92 gallon per bone dry tonne of biomass. ‘We believe this project

6 • November/December 2013

will enable us to achieve cash flow profitability in 2015 at a lower capital cost with decreased execution and start-up risk,’ says Fred Canon, Kior’s president and CEO. ‘Through Columbus II we plan to achieve operational and technological synergies between the two facilities as we expect to incorporate our technology developments into both the new facility and retroactively in the existing Columbus facility, thereby improving facility economics for both.’ He continues: ‘In parallel with the Columbus II project,

we plan to accelerate our efforts to refine the design of our next commercial production facility, currently planned for ground breaking in the second half of 2014 in Natchez, Mississippi.’ Kior has already received commitments, subject to negotiation and execution of final documentation, from Khosla Ventures and Vindod Kholsa for an aggregate commitment of up to $50 million as the cornerstone investor for the Columbus II project and to meet the company’s ongoing liquidity needs. l

Bioenergy Insight

biomass news

Biotricity secures feedstock supply Concord and Cool Biotricity, an Irish Planet to form JV renewable company, has signed a memorandum of understanding for the supply of feedstock to its biomass-fired power plant, which is currently under construction and expected to enter service in 2016.

Under the memorandum, the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) will purchase and manage straw feedstock for the plant. It will consume just over 90,000 tonnes of straw a year to generate 16MW of renewable energy, in addition to reducing Ireland’s carbon emissions by 77,000 tonnes a year. Biotricity will begin initial purchases of straw during 2014 for plant testing

Bioenergy Insight

and commissioning purposes, with full purchasing commencing in 2015. The agreement includes framework pricing for the straw ‘on the ledge’ which sets a base price of €30 per tonne with bonuses for reduced moisture level. IFA president John Bryan says: ‘The linkages between farming and the production of renewable energy are becoming clearer and include opportunities for farmers to develop sustainable business relationships with the energy sector that provide incomes for farmers plus energy security and low carbon power for Ireland.’ Ground will break on the plant at the beginning of next year, with plant testing and commissioning expected towards the end of 2015. Full-scale generation will begin in 2016. l

Concord Energy, a Singaporebased crude oil and refined petroleum product trading company, and technology supplier Cool Planet Energy Systems have signed an agreement to establish a joint venture in the Asia Pacific region.

The new JV company will develop commercial facilities that will produce biofuels and biochar from non-food biomass. Concord Energy is an investor in Cool Planet, joining others such as BP, Google Ventures, Energy Technology Ventures and the Constellation division of Exelon. l

November/December 2013 • 7

biomass news

Mondelez installs biomass boiler

Food manufacturer Mondelez Philippines has installed a biomass boiler which will generate renewable energy for its manufacturing plant in Parañaque City. The new technology will handle rice husks and coconut shells when it comes online, helping Mondelez to slash its greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 648 tonnes per year. It will produce enough steam to power the factory’s production process during ingredients preparation and machine cleaning. The company entered into a partnership with boiler manufacturer Enertech Systems Industries to carry out the project. The boiler took seven months to build and the total cost of the project was not disclosed. l

8 • November/December 2013

Cool Planet Acritaz sign agreement Technology supplier Cool Planet Energy Systems and Acritaz Greentech, a group of companies that bring biomass processing and biotechnology projects to plantations, have signed an agreement to establish a number of commercial facilities in Malaysia. The partnership plans to start building the first plant next year, when the two companies will

source biomass materials local to the region, including palm plantation waste products such as empty fruit bunches, wood and bark waste, to make renewable fuels for the Asian market. Acritaz will invest $60 million (€44 million) in the first facility before the end of 2013. It will be located in the Malaysian state of Johor. Acritaz and Cool Planet will then build multiple facilities across the country, with Acritaz purchasing proprietary equipment and consumables from Cool Planet in the construction and operation of the facilities. l

Bioenergy Insight

biogas news North American biogas plant goes up for sale Texas-based renewables company EM Biogas is selling its Huckabay Ridge anaerobic digestion plant. The $26 million (€19 million) plant was erected in 2007. Comprising eight digesters with a capacity to handle 7.5 million gallons of digestate, the plant is one of the largest AD facilities in North America. The sale also includes around 72.5 acres of land, property improvements and equipment. According to reports, renewable energy asset liquidation expert Maas Companies will manage the sale, due to take place on 21 November. l

Biogas plant opens in Oregon A commercial-scale renewable power plant has opened in Junction City in the US state of Oregon. The project, known as JCBiomethane, has been labelled ‘the Pacific Northwest’s first commercial food waste-to-electricity’ facility. Essential Consulting of Oregon designed and will also manage the plant, which will convert large volumes of food waste and other biomass materials into biogas for the production of biopower. It will also generate thermal energy

and liquid and fibre nutrients. The Oregon Department of Energy provided technical assistance and $1.7 million (€1.25 million) of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding. It also received $2 million in cash incentives from Energy Trust Oregon. The total investment for the biogas plant is estimated at $16 million. ‘By encouraging new sources of renewable energy, we are creating a business climate that supports innovation, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and building a more diversified energy future in the state,’ Oregon’s governor, John Kitzhaber, was quoted as saying. l

AD helping to grow organics recycling sector Anaerobic digestion (AD) is driving forward to UK organics recycling industry, according to a new survey published by Wrap. The study — ASORI — shows the number of operational AD sites grew during 2012 and the total input of organic waste processed via AD rose to 1.69 million tonnes last year. WRAP said over 50% of those sites surveyed have come online since the last survey was carried out, which was in 2010. The research also shows the largest source of nonagricultural feedstock for AD is food waste, around a third of which comes from local collections. ‘It’s really positive to see continued growth across the sector,’ comments Ian Wardle, head of organics and energy at WRAP. ‘The report highlights some great things for the

Bioenergy Insight

The number of AD plants is growing across the UK

industry particularly around continued growth, improved quality and opportunities to generate higher revenue.’ The report was commissioned by WRAP, working in partnership with the Organics Recycling Group, the Anaerobic Digestion

and Biogas Association, the Renewable Energy Association and the Environmental Services Association. In addition, WRAP has also launched a new £3 million (€3.5 million) scheme to help farmers develop onsite AD plants. Under this

initiative, farmers will be able to apply for up to £400,000 or less in financial support from the AD Loan Fund. The scheme, aimed at making renewable energy more viable, will be rolled out from early next year. l

November/December 2013 • 9

biogas news

New project to optimise anaerobic digestion VTT Technological Research Centre of Finland is organising a new European project to study the anaerobic digestion (AD) of organic waste. The two-year OPTI-VFA project will cost €1.15 million, of which the share of VTT is approximately one third. VTT is responsible for the planning, building and calibration of the prototype for monitoring and controlling system. VTT states the AD process can be optimised to produce either biogas or volatile fatty acids that are even more valuable products than biogas. The produced volatile fatty acids can be

converted further to raw materials with which it is possible to produce biobased products such as bioplastics. During the AD process, which contains four main steps, the organic matter is degraded by bacteria to biogas in the absence of oxygen. Controlling the digestion process is one of the most important ways of making the biogas production process more efficient. A prototype for process monitoring and controlling system will be developed during the OPTI-VFA project. This system enables more efficient control of both volatile fatty acids and biogas production. It also improves the profitability, efficiency and reliability of the process. Anaerobic digestion of biowaste has

Clean Energy to distribute biomethane Clean Energy Fuels, a provider of natural gas for transportation, will begin distributing commercial volumes of its renewable natural gas vehicle fuel at 35 public stations across California. The company’s fuel — Redeem — is made from waste materials collected from landfill, diary and sewage plants and already powers cars, taxis, shuttles and industrial fleets in the state. Clean Energy says Redeem is up to 90% cleaner than diesel and 100% renewable. ‘Our goal is to produce and distribute 15 million gallons in our first year which can make progress towards achieving California’s climate change goals and prove this is a viable, cleaner and abundant alternative fuel source for our future,’ says Clean Energy president and CEO Andrew Littlefair. Harrison Clay, president of Clean Energy subsidiary Clean Energy Renewable Fuels, adds: ‘California’s leadership in addressing the threat of climate change, and its commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, makes it the ideal state to launch our fuel.’ Clean Energy has also invested in infrastructure, including 400 fuelling stations throughout the US, and in the development of multiple biomethane production facilities that will produce Redeem. l

10 • November/December 2013

many positive environmental impacts; for one, waste has less odour problems after digestion, in addition to reduced acidity and reduced pathogen and pesticides content. Fossil fuels can be compensated by biogas and thus the amount of emissions can be decreased. Also the methane emissions will be decreased, when the methane produced as a disintegration product during AD process will be utilised as energy in a closed process. Along with VTT, the project group consists of eight partners: Attero (the Netherlands), Optomeasures (France), Rikola (Finland), MTT Multantiv (Finland), MSI (Spain), Maris Projects (the Netherlands), TUDelft (the Netherlands) and CEIT (Spain). l

Cheese maker opens biogas plant Cheese manufacturer Wyke Farms has launched a £4 million (€4.7 million) biogas plant at its site in Somerset, UK. The plant took five years to plan and build. It features three 4,600m3 digester vessels and will convert 75,000 tonnes a year of biodegradable waste materials from the farm and dairy, including manure, into energy. Wyke Farms says in a statement the new AD facility will help it save over 4 million kg of carbon dioxide per annum. Richard Clothier, MD of Wyke Farms, comments: ‘Sustainability and environmental issues are

increasing in importance to each and every consumer in the UK and green energy makes both emotional and practical sense. It simply closes a cycle. We can now take the cow waste and turn it into pure, clean energy to drive all our own needs and more. This in turn leaves a natural fertiliser we can plough back into the land to invest in the future health and wellbeing of our cattle — and so that cycle starts again.’ The new plant means Wyke Farms is the UK’s first national cheddar brand to be fully self-sufficient in renewable energy. It is part of the cheese brand’s £10 million green energy venture, which also includes solar power and water re-usage across its farms. l

Wyke Farms is the UK’s first cheddar brand to be 100% reliant on renewables

Bioenergy Insight

biogas news

CleanWorld breaks ground on AD plant at UC Davis CleanWorld has started building an AD plant at the former UC Davis landfill in California, US. The biodigester will divert 20,000 tonnes per year of food, green and agricultural waste away from landfill. The biogas collected from this decomposing feedstock will be converted into 1MW of electricity

and used to power campus buildings at the UC Davis university. By-products of the process include 4 million tonnes organic soil and fertilisers for farms. The facility, which is CleanWorld’s third commercial plant in 15 months, will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 13,500 tonnes a year. It is expected to begin generating renewable electricity for the UC Davis campus by December. l

Blue Sphere agrees project in Ivory Coast Cleantech company Blue Sphere has signed a memorandum of understanding for a landfill gas-to-energy project at the Akouedo Landfill in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. Under the agreement, Blue Sphere will own the gas and energy produced in exchange for financing the cost of the project and sharing a portion of the profits with its partner. The Akouedo Landfill receives up to 4,000 tonnes

a day of municipal solid waste on a daily basis. Its energy potential is estimated at 3MW, gradually rising to 6MW as the site receives more waste over time. ‘This is now our biggest landfill project in Africa. The Ministry of Energy has indicated a strong willingness to cooperate with us and provide us with a power purchase agreement,’ says Blue Sphere CEO Shlomi Palas. ‘The next step is to perform a feasibility study and move the power purchase agreement negotiations to the next level.’ l

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November/December 2013 • 11

biopower news PSC approves Kentucky power purchase of biomass energy US utility company Kentucky Power is to acquire biomassbased power from a renewable production plant after the Kentucky Public Service Commission (PSC) approved a 20-year power purchase agreement. Under the recently approved agreement, Kentucky Power will buy renewable electricity from the 58.8MW ecoPower GenerationHazard biomass plant, construction on which will take about two years. The renewable plant, which has already

Kentucky Power is to buy renewable power from a 58.8MW biomass plant

received necessary permits and approvals from other state agencies, including the Siting Board, will burn various wood wastes and low-quality timber. In a statement, Kentucky Power says the generating capacity provided by ecoPower is needed to both replace capacity that will be lost because of reductions in power production

at the company’s Big Sandy facility in Lawrence County and to help meet its future need for power. The utility company also said the ecoPower contract will encourage economic development in its service territory and diversify its generation portfolio, which currently relies largely on coal. l

E.ON pulls plug on UK biomass project

DP CleanTech to build power plant in China

Power and gas company E.ON says it will not continue with the development of a biomass-fired power plant at the Port of Bristol in the UK.

DP CleanTech, a designer and commissioner of biomass- and wasteto-energy power plants, has signed a contract with Shougang Holding Tianguan Group to develop a biomass-fired power plant in the Henan province of China.

The facility was to be located at Portbury Dock but the company remains committed to investing in the UK. In a statement a spokesperson for E.ON says: ‘We continue to believe the UK could be a good market for investment in which sustainable biomass has an important part to play. In reaching this decision we

considered many factors however, under the current regulatory and policy framework, concluded this project was not a priority investment for E.ON. ‘We believe that a diverse energy mix is the best way of ensuring security of supply, while minimising our impact on the environment and keeping the cost of generation as low as possible. Therefore it is now critical that we push ahead with the government’s Electricity Market Reform so that we can deliver investment in the UK. This includes dedicated biomass plants such as our Blackburn Meadows project which is due to be completed next year.’ l

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The project, which will be China’s first biomassto-energy plant, will use the by-product feedstock from second generation ethanol production. It will be a key part of the cellulosic ethanol plant currently under construction in Henan province. The power plant will use materials left over from the ethanol production process, thereby improving the energy efficiency of the entire project. DP CleanTech’s CEO Simon Parker said second generation ethanol production ‘is in the early stages and to be a part of this initiative is a responsibility that we take seriously’. l

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biopower news

Helsingin Energia studies climate impacts of Salmisaari power plant Helsingin Energia has collaborated with the Finnish Environment Institute and the Tampere University of Technology to study changes in the environmental impacts of the Salmisaari power plant when coal is replaced with small amounts of wood pellets. It was concluded that cofiring wood pellets reduces the climate impacts of the power plant. Impacts are less when only a small portion of pellets is used. The study investigated the environmental impacts of operations throughout the life cycle of the fuel, i.e. from manufacture and transport to the final disposal or utilisation of the by-products of the combustion process. ‘The majority of climate impacts result from the direct greenhouse gas emissions of the combustion process. When assuming that biomass carbon dioxide emissions are climate neutral, the climate impacts of mixed combustion of pellets are smaller than those resulting from the combustion of coal alone,’ the study read. ‘Mixed combustion of pellets even in smaller proportions increases transport to the power plant. However, transport of fuel, chemicals and waste only accounts for a few per cent of the emissions, and the increased traffic resulting from the combustion of

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pellets barely registers in the total climate impacts. ‘Mixed combustion of pellets in small proportions does not require great technical modifications to the energy production process. The plant’s consumption of water, chemicals and electricity will remain more or less unchanged, and therefore the climate and environmental impacts are the same in both cases.’ The study was conducted by modelling the actual production and consumption volumes of Salmisaari and comparing them with the situation in 2015, i.e. with approximately 7% of energy being produced with pellets. The study was part of the Measurement, Monitoring and Environmental Efficiency Assessment research programme of Cleen Oy. Changes in the plant’s environmental and climate impacts when the share of pellets is increased to 40% will be investigated next. The origin and raw materials of biomass fuels may have considerable effects on the total climate impacts and this will be studied through comparisons. Helsingin Energia aims to achieve carbon neutral energy production by 2050. In the first stage, carbon dioxide emissions will be reduced by 20% and the use of renewable energy sources will be increased to 20% by 2020. Helsinki City Council will decide in 2015 whether to build a new biomass-fired power plant in Vuosaari or whether to implement investments to modify the Hanasaari and Salmisaari power plants to increase the share of biofuel. l

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biopower news

News in brief Greenleaf Power buys plant in Canada Greenleaf Power, an owner and operator of green energy plants, has completed the acquisition of the Saint-Félicien cogeneration power plant in Quebec. This is the first plant Greenleaf has purchased outside of the US; it currently owns and operates biomass facilities in San Joaquin, Humboldt, Lassen and Riverside counties. Its latest project has the capacity to generate around 21MW of renewable power, bringing Greenleaf’s total energy production to more than 145MW. Hydro-Quebec will buy the renewable power generated at the SaintFélicien plant under a long-term agreement. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

ERB and Dow to build sugarcane biomass plant in Brazil Brazilian biopower company

Energias Renovaveis do Brasil (ERB) is to partner with Dow Chemical for the construction of a renewable electricity facility in Minas Gerais state. The two companies have agreed to build a R237 million (€80 million) biopower plant at the site of Dow Chemical’s ethanol production facility. It will use sugarcane waste to generate 46MW of renewable energy and 230 tonnes of steam per hour. The plant is expected to enter service next year.

EPC contractor named for biomass plant in Japan Showa Shell Sekiya K.K., an energy

company currently developing a biomassfired power plant in Japan, has awarded the engineering, procurement and construction contract to JFE Holdings. No financial terms of the new contract were disclosed. The plant itself will cost around 16 billion yen (€121.6 million) to build. The plant will be built south of Tokyo in Kanagawa prefecture. Ground will break in May next year, with operations expected to begin at the end of 2015. It will use woody biomass and palm kernel shells to generate 49MW of renewable power.

14 • November/December 2013

Leidos to assume ownership of biomass power facility Leidos Holdings, a science and technology company, is to assume ownership of a 37.5MW biomass-fuelled power plant currently being built in Connecticut, US by Leidos Constructors. The new facility is scheduled to be completed by the end of this year. Upon entering operations the biopower plant will power the equivalent of 37,000 homes. Connecticut Light and Power has signed a 15-year purchase agreement with Leidos to acquire power from the plant. Leidos intends to complete the facility as originally scheduled, qualify for relevant tax benefits, operate the plant and commence marketing efforts

to sell the facility to renewable power plant investors. ‘We’ve reached this agreement in an effort to maximise the value of our investment for our shareholders,’ says Leidos chairman and CEO John Jumper. ‘We believe the facility is an attractive asset for potential buyers as it is one of the only Class 1 biomass plants in the state of Connecticut.’ Acting in its capacity as a secured lender, Leidos has pursued a consensual foreclosure to assume ownership of the project company upon receipt of all necessary governmental approvals expected before 2014. Due to recent events, Leidos has taken this action to ensure the project company continues to meet its commitments and to maximise the longterm value of the facility. l

Greensphere buys Welsh biomass plant Greensphere Capital has acquired a biomass-fired power plant in Wales, UK. The 14.7MWe Western BioEnergy facility in Port Talbot was purchased with funds managed by Greensphere on behalf on the UK Green Investment Bank (GIB), Stobart and Signia investors. Greensphere says it led the deal and will manage the investment. Opened in 2008, the plant burns approximately 150,000 tonnes a year of feedstock to generate electricity to power 28,800 homes. Greensphere will invest in upgrading the plant and implement plans to increase the quantity of Grade A waste wood that the

plant can convert to power. Stobart Biomass Products will be sourcing the feedstock materials for the plant and recently signed a master framework agreement with Greensphere to supply up to 1 million tonnes a year of biomass into the Port of Talbot plant, in addition to other facilities in the future. ‘This investment will secure the long-term future of an important Welsh renewable energy plant and will improve its efficiency and sustainability,’ says Shaun Kingsbury, CEO of GIB. ‘The Greensphere fund was set up, in part, to help support the UK’s waste wood biomass sector and its first acquisition of an operational asset is an important step.’ l

Bioenergy Insight

biopower news

UK CHP plant receives planning approval Renewable energy company Estover Energy’s biomassfired CHP plant has been granted planning consent. The £65 million (€76.5 million) plant, to be built at Discovery Park in Kent, was awarded consent by Dover District Council. It will generate renewable heat and power across the 220 acre site and will also supply electricity to the national grid. The new facility will use conventional CHP steam turbine technology to generate 11-15MW of power and 8-12MW of heat, which would be enough energy to supply the equivalent of 21,000 homes with electricity. The biomass plant will use locally

An artist’s impression of Estover’s CHP plant

sourced low-grade wood fuel from local forestry and woodlands, typically within an average distance of 80 miles. Andrew Troup, development director at Estover Energy, says: ‘Our new biomass plant will help meet the energy

challenges of the next two decades; it will be a great boost to the local economy and will stimulate long-overdue investment in the southeast’s woodlands.’ Construction is forecast to begin in spring 2014. l

Doosan and ADF partner on E.ON biomass conversion project

Doosan Power Systems, a power plant construction and maintenance company, and French industrial maintenance group ADF have entered into an 18 month partnership to carry out the biomass conversion and turbine upgrade project at E.ON’s coalfired power plant in Gardanne, France. Once the plant’s conversion to biomass is complete, it will be France’s largest biomass-fired power plant to date, using wood to generate 150MW a year of renewable power. It will also reduce the CO2 balance by 600,000 tonnes per year. Under a recently signed agreement, Doosan will provide the technology and project leadership, while ADF — as a principal subcontractor to Doosan — will be responsible for the assembly of all new equipment at the site. The new partnership comes after the two companies collaborated during the plant’s front end engineering and design study and bid preparation phases. Work on the plant began earlier this year with scheduled first firing in the third quarter of 2014 and start-up operations scheduled for early 2015. ‘This major industrial investment will bring a contribution of a new kind to the energy transition and to the security of supply of the Provence-Alpes Côte d’Azur (Paca) region,’ says Luc Poyer, president of the board of E.ON France. l

Bioenergy Insight

November/December 2013 • 15

biopower news

Two biomass plants on the cards for Canada The development of two biomass-fired power plants in British Columbia, Canada has progressed with the announcement that Iberdrola Engineering will be building them. Iberdrola was awarded contracts for both plants, worth a total €240 million. One

facility will be located in Fort St. James, while the second is planned for Merritt. Total combined capacity is 80MW. Iberdrola was the successful bidder in an international tender to commission the two facilities. The tender was called by Canadian investment fund Fengate Capital. Under a contract signed in Canada by the company's subsidiary, it will break ground on the Fort St. James biomass plant later this month. Iberdrola also

Filipino firm plans biomass investment

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Overview of conference topics: -

Political conditions for the development of biofuels in Europe Impacts of EU policy on biofuels industry Biodiesel, bioethanol, biomethane technologies Sustainable biomass supply for biokerosene production Biofuels form waste and residual material

17 different panels with more than 50 speakers will give insight into market trends, ongoing research and practical lessons learned from new biofuels and from those already on the market. Representatives from the international biofuel sector discuss with the automotive industry, component suppliers, mineral oil industry, politics, science and associations of nature protection. Organizer:

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16 • November/December 2013

acquired the right to build the 40MW Merritt facility, with work on this scheduled to begin in February 2014. The company will be in charge of all stages of construction and commissioning, as well as building two transformer substations and the power lines connecting the plants to the grid. When commissioned, the two biomass plants will supply electricity to 160,000 homes and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 570,000 tonnes a year. l

Asea One Power is to invest around $185 million (€137 million) over a five year period to build 60MW of biomass power plant capacity across the Philippines. It has been reported the company would start with a $37 million, 12MW biomass-fired project in Banga, Aklan and hired an EPC contractor in June. The plant will use rice husks and straws as feedstock, in addition to woody biomass. Site development could begin before the end of this year and has a construction cycle of 18 to 22 months. National Transmission will acquire the renewable electricity under a power purchase agreement. In addition to this site, Asea is also said to be eyeing locations in Iloilo, Luzon or Mindanao for the development of a $90 million 30MW biomassfired power plant. l

Bioenergy Insight

biopellet news BlueFire Renewables branches into wood pellets Renewable fuels company BlueFire Renewables has announced it will build a wood pellet production plant alongside its 9 million gallon a year ethanol facility in Mississippi, US.

The company is developing one of the first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol facilities in the city of Fulton. However, the over-cautious financial market meant banks were not willing to invest in such a high risk project and BlueFire soon realised it needed to guarantee incoming revenue. Speaking to Bioenergy Insight, Richard Klann, BlueFire’s VP of corporate finance and business development, explains: ‘Our core business is biofuels and our biofuel facility in Fulton is one of the first commercial-scale second generation plants. For that reason a lot of banks are risk adverse and will only finance our second project when

BlueFire is to build a 400,000 tonne per year wood pellet plant at the site of its ethanol plant

we prove the first will work. While federal loan guarantee programs are intended to facilitate commercialisation, available funds and loan requirements have limited use for these projects.’ To improve its project’s attractiveness to funding sources, BlueFire explored alternative pathways to mitigating the risks seen in

Construction on the wood pellet plant will take between nine and 13 months

Bioenergy Insight

standalone cellulosic ethanol plants. ‘We then started exploring the wood pellet market; the opportunities there are promising and we realised this would be a very synergistic fit for us.’ Klann says. The new plant design will have a capacity to manufacture 400,000 tonnes a year of wood pellets using woodchips produced in the region to offset the wood industry slowdown in that part of the country. Klann comments: ‘On the ethanol side, we will be taking what is left over, such as forest residues to help with forest health issues. Forests are growing back too thick and need to be managed efficiently. ‘In addition, when both facilities are up

and running, we believe we could enhance the quality of our wood pellets with lignin — a by-product from our ethanol plant. The addition of lignin would raise the Btu content of the pellets and help them stay together better during transportation because of lignin’s binding properties.’ Preparation of the site is complete and the company is currently closing the financing. Ground is expected to break at the beginning of next year, with construction on the wood pellet plant expected to take between nine and 13 months. With such a strong demand for wood pellets across the Atlantic in Europe, Klann reveals the pellets will definitely be exported. ‘The plant’s south-easterly location means the pellets will be exported via barge out of some of the US’s largest ports. The site has tri-modal access,’ says Klann. ‘There is a highway, rail access and a waterway that connects to the Mississippi River and flows directly to the Gulf of Mexico for shipment to overseas markets.’ l

November/December 2013 • 17

biopellet news

RusForest secures financing for Russian pellet plant RusForest, a Swedish forestry company, has secured bank financing for its wood pellet plant currently under construction in Arkhangelsk, Russia. The plant entered its construction phase in the middle of this year. It will use residues from its sawmilling operation, also located in the same site in Arkhangelsk, as feedstock for the pellets, in addition to leftover woodchips RusForest has been unable to sell to the pulp industry. Matti Lehtipuu, CEO of RusForest, tells Bioenergy Insight: ‘Traditionally there has been quite a strong pulp milling industry in Arkhangelsk. Recently, however, one of the mills we supply our woodchips to closed down, so we decided to build a wood pellet plant to utilise the chips and sawdust.

It will help us monetise our sawmill by-products.’ When the plant comes online, expected for the first quarter of next year, it will produce up to 100,000 tonnes of pellets, all of which will be exported out of Russia. Mechanical engineering company Hekotek is building the facility. ‘At our site we have our own port so from here we can export our wood pellets into Europe,’ explains Lehtipuu. ‘We will build two 4,000-tonne silos to handle the pellets. The silos are connected to our pellet plant and located next to the port. And, even though we are located in northern Russia, there are ice-breakers to make this operation feasible all year-round.’ According to Lehtipuu, RusForest has not yet decided exactly where the pellets will be shipped and says the company is currently ‘exploring opportunities’ and

is ‘in the middle of some negotiations’. He reveals: ‘In any case we will export our total capacity as the domestic demand is very limited.’ Total investment for the pellet plant is estimated at €12 million, 70% of which will be financed by local bank facilities. RusForest has secured financing from Russian bank CentroCredit, which will go towards purchasing pellet equipment and finance construction and installation. The remaining 30% is to be financed by RusForest. The financing consists of two tranches. The first amounts to €4.9 million and carries an effective annual interest rate of 7%, while the second tranche amounts to €4 million and carries an effective annual interest rate of 13.5%. Both tranches have a five year maturity. ‘We have trust from the creditors,’ Lehtipuu says. ‘We have secured

financing and it’s enough to build the entire plant.’ Asked what challenges RusForest has faced so far in building its first ever wood pellet production facility, Lehtipuu responds: ‘While this might be a new venture for our company as a whole, our local CEO, who is responsible for Arkhangelsk activities, built a similar pellet mill for his previous employer in the past. Our team does have experience in constructing such a plant. ‘We do have sawmilling operations in other locations and it is always a question of how to effectively utilise the residual materials. In Siberia, for example, it would be difficult to make wood pellet production profitable because of the transportation costs involved in getting the product to market. But we are following the situation closely and will gain valuable experience from operating our first plant.’ l

RusForest started building its pellet plant earlier this year

The pellet production facility is due to come online in Q1 2014

18 • November/December 2013

Bioenergy Insight

biopellet news

Enova awards supply contract for pellet plants

Pellet export terminal planned for North Carolina, US A new wood pellet export facility is on the cards for the Port of Morehead City in North Carolina after the port signed an agreement deal with WoodFuels. According to the terms of the agreement, WoodFuels would finance and build a $25 million (€18 million) export facility at the port to receive, store and load wood pellets for export to Europe, where they would be used as a renewable energy source. Under the 20-year agreement, the facility

Bioenergy Insight

would receive its first pellets for shipment in late 2014. The deal was approved by the North Carolina State Ports Authority’s board of directors. ‘This agreement is an example of our efforts to enhance our ports to ensure North Carolina has the infrastructure in place to support growing industries,’ says Secretary Tony Tata. ‘This is the third multi-million dollar deal the ports have closed in the last eight months.’ Earlier this year the authority completed a deal with Enviva Holdings to build and operate a similar facility at the Port of Wilmington, which is scheduled to open in early 2015. l

Two Malaysian companies, Detik Aturan and Global Green Synergy, have both secured contracts to supply wood pellets to different Asian markets. Under a new agreement, Detik plans to export 20,000 tonnes a month of pellets to BC21 in South Korea by the middle of next year. BC21 hopes to be consuming 5 million tonnes per year by 2015.

And as part of its agreement with China Light (GuangZhou) Import and Export, Global Green will supply it with 5,000 tonnes of pellets a month. This figure is expected to rise to 20,000 tonnes during the first quarter of 2014. Asia’s demand for biomass pellets is growing as governments continue to support the industry through the implementation of green energy policies. Consumption in the region could reach 10 million tonnes a year by 2020. l

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The company has entered into a 10-year fibre supply and services agreement with Plum Creek Timber. Under the new agreement, Plum Creek will deliver up to 3 million tonnes a year of sustainably-

managed wood fibre to Enova’s three new pellet facilities. Approximately 500,000 tonnes will be sourced from Plum Creek’s timberlands while the remaining 2.5 million tonnes will come from third party landowners. Enova will export the pellets to global biomass markets when shipments begin in 2015. ‘Further growth in bioenergy markets means cleaner energy, attractive returns for our investors and new jobs for those in the communities where we work and live,’ comments Rick Holley, Plum Creek’s CEO. l

Enova Energy, a US bioenergy company, is building three wood pellet plants in Georgia and South Carolina and has signed a new supply agreement for the biomass.

RWE pellet plant receives certification

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November/December 2013 • 19

technology news Green efficiency: less fuel, more power

The European Union is committed to saving energy and has mandated a 20% increase in the proportion of renewable energy and in energy savings by 2020, with a simultaneous reduction of CO2 emissions by 20%.

In its response to these targets, Komptech, a supplier of machinery and systems for the treatment of biomass as a renewable energy source, has spent two years developing a new umbrella brand — green efficiency — which ensures customers its machines consume less energy while maintaining high performance. The criteria for this recently launched initiative include higher efficiency in drive technologies and shredding and material discharge, giving higher output per unit of energy used and thus reducing specific energy consumption. Solutions include the new direct mechanical drive and improved existing features such as the friction-wheel drum drive. Komptech says equipment able to do the jobs of two or more machines also comply with the criteria, as it saves energy, labour and resources. Stickers with a newly designed sun logo show where this new efficiency technology is included. Additionally, the concept incorporates modern exhaustscrubbing technologies, reduced noise emissions and measures to make Komptech’s machines more efficient in use, such as faster maintenance and longer-lasting wear parts. Currently three Komptech product ranges meet the

The Cribus (above) and Terminator shredder (right) from Komptech

criteria of the green efficiency: the stationary Terminator shredder, the electric-drive Cribus 2800, 3800 and 5000 trommels and the new Crambo direct 4200, 5200 and 6200, with more planned for the future. Komptech says it hopes its entire product range will meet green efficiency standards by 2020. On the Cribus, whether using the on-board diesel generator or grid power, the electric drive uses up to 75% less power than comparable diesel-hydraulic trommels. The Terminator has an electric motor with mechanical gearbox with two manual speeds — reverse gear and overload protection. It gives 30% lower energy consumption. The newly developed Crambo direct shredder is another machine in Komptech’s newly launched green efficiency brand. It has a mechanical drive with automatic load-dependent gear shifting that combines the functionality of hydraulic drive with the efficiency of a mechanical system. The Crambo is powered by a Caterpillar Level 3b or 4 diesel engine with the latest exhaust scrubbing. The whole engine compartment has been redesigned, offering simple service and maintenance access. Special insulation reduces noise emissions to a minimum. In the large shredding chamber, two 2.8m counter-

20 • November/December 2013

xx Bioenergy

rotating toothed drums shred various woody biomass down to a set particle size. The degree of shredding can be adjusted, either by changing the screen basket or by changing the entire screen basket cartridge. The new BioBasket XL allows operators get more fuel product out of green cuttings, while reducing fuel consumption in the process. The Crambo’s new mechanical drive offers a 50% higher torque at the highest drum speed for more throughput, and uses up to 30% less fuel than conventional dieselhydraulic shredders for lower operating costs and a smaller environmental footprint. l

The new Crambo (above) has lower fuel consumption combined with higher performance

Bioenergy Insight

technology news

HyGear delivers hydrogen from biogas

Alstrom to supply a GRT steam turbine Power generation company Alstrom has signed a contract with Danish power plant company Burmeister and Wain Scandinavian Contractor (BWSC) to design and supply an 18MW steam turbine.

The Geared Reaction steam turbine (GRT) will be installed at a 15.8MW wood-fuelled biomass power station being built by BWSC in Northern Ireland. The plant is the first of its kind to be built in the region and also the first project to be developed and

funded by ERE Developments. The plant, which was partfunded by the UK government’s Green Investment Bank and Danish EKF, is expected to become operational in 2015. The GRT turbine is preassembled in the factory before shipment and requires a simple foundation to which the steam turbine generator package can be anchored into place. The turbine is optimised for efficient and flexible power production covering renewable and traditional fuel types and industrial applications for process steam. It features a flexible modular concept and a plug-and-play package to reduce installation time. l

HyGear has installed a new system in Linz, Austria that aims to increase the productivity of battery-powered forklift trucks. The Hydrogen Generation System generates 4Nm3 per hour of methane derived from biogas. It will provide 10 forklift trucks with hydrogen for around one year, rivalling the method of battery charging and changing, and overcoming issues such as limited battery life and high maintenance costs. The facility in Linz provides

a suitable trial location, as the fuel cell-powered forklift trucks can be tested under normal operating conditions. The filling installation, converted for indoor use with a maximum filling pressure of 350bar, has been developed by oil and gas company OMV and is Europe’s first indoor hydrogen filling station. The first vehicle was delivered in June, with the remaining nine scheduled to be dropped off in the coming months. The trial will last for one year, during which the technological maturity of the system and its advantages in terms of productivity and ecology will be verified. l

MHG Systems and ACFOR join forces MHG Systems, a supplier of management services for bioenergy businesses, and sustainable forestry management company ACFOR have signed a letter of intent to implement MHG’s solution for bioenergy production processes. The Biomass Manager will develop sustainable supply chains necessary to support the production of heat from woodchips in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, Canada. The service is designed for electronic tracking of location and quality data, as well as sending digital work orders

Stay cool.

and work delivery confirmations. This, in addition to map features, enables management decisions and the monitoring of both quality and quantity of biomass to increase megawatt output per unit of biomass harvested and transported. The partnership comes as ACFOR works to expand supplying, managing and building forest biomassfired heat plants in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. MHG’s Biomass Manager will be used to track and manage feedstock from stump to boiler. A feedstock assessment by the University of Moncton revealed New Brunswick alone has the potential to produce 463MW of electricity and 1,111MW of thermal heat based purely on forest residuals. l

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Bioenergy Insight

November/December 2013 • 21

technology news

Weltec builds 1.6MW of green energy in France Biogas plant manufacturer Weltec Biopower, together with Domaix Energie, has started rolling out four agricultural biogas plants in France. Construction on the biogas plants, which will use agricultural substrates, sludge and food leftovers, has already begun. All four biogas plants will use the residual heat in a digestate dryer in order to reduce the amount of liquid manure and market the dried digestate. Weltec says this heat utilisation concept means the plants will have an efficiency of at least 70%, enabling the operators to benefit from the heat and power bonus, which is up to €0.04/kWh in France. Two of the four plants currently under construction will produce 600kW. The first, in the département of Charente, features a 3,000m3 stainless steel digester, while the other in Burgundy will have two digesters

Weltec’s four biogas plants will generate a total 1.6MW

with a capacity of 2,000m3 each. The two other plants will have an electrical output of 190kW and 255kW, respectively. The smaller one in Lorraine comprises a 1,500m3 stainless steel

digester and will be loaded with cattle manure from the operator’s farm as well as whole plant silage and food leftovers. Additionally, the 255kW plant will utilise agro-industrial waste. l

Dreyer and Bosse provides CHP plant to Uruguay sheep farmer Dreyer and Bosse Kraftwerke, a manufacturer of combined heat and power (CHP) plants, has supplied Uruguay-based wool producer Lanas Trinidad with one of its systems. The delivery also includes a biogas cooler and activated carbon filter to ensure smooth operation. Wastewater is collected in one of the four large wastewater tanks, which range from 15,000 to 25,000m3 in volume. Between 2,500 and 3,500m3 a day of methane is generated at the site which is being used to produce 366kW of power and 408kW of heat for the farm. The electricity is being used to fuel

22 • November/December 2013

Here’s looking at ewe: The CHP system on-site

on-site operations, with the remainder sent to the national grid. The heat from the exhaust gas is recycled and used to heat the wastewater tanks. Lanas Trinidad is one of the largest producers and exporters of sheep

wool in Uruguay and keeps 3.9 million sheep at the farm, which is part of the Clean Development Mechanism project aimed at earning certified emission reduction credits according to the Kyoto Protocol. l

Bioenergy Insight

technology news

New technology for biological waste treatment Canadian microbial bioproducts manufacturer Bionetix International, a wholly owned subsidiary of Cortec, has launched a new product for the treatment of municipal solid waste (MSW). The company says its products enable degrading while using natural methods. It also employs environmentally safe manufacturing and disposal processes. Bacteria used in the Bionetix line of products degrade complex chemicals along with high volumes of waste materials. Bionetix’s improved product for MSW treatment reduces organic acids, ammonia and toxic substances and controls odour. l

Bionetix’s new range of MSW treatment products

Scheuch set to grow Scheuch Group, a Germanyheadquartered company involved with wood processing and energy, is reorganising its corporate structure and managing board to secure profitable growth. Alois Scheuch is transferring the responsibility for the corporate group to his son, Stefan Scheuch. Jörg Jeliniewski will assume responsibilities for the positions previously held by Herbert Kendler. The Scheuch Holding, under the leadership of Stefan, will be responsible for the future strategic development in the field of environmental technology in the group as a whole. Scheuch GmbH will focus on global growth in the core sector of clean air technology. Jörg Jeliniewski, who will succeed Herbert Kendler as MD of the company, has previously worked for the GEA Group for more than 20 years, where he was actively engaged in making GEA a global player in the manufacture of machines and systems. Most recently, he was the divisional director in charge of the heat exchanger segment. Kendler is leaving Scheuch after more than 15 years. l

Bioenergy Insight

You can share the technological experience gained from over 750 projects worldwide

Dreyer & Bosse have become a leading manufacturer of CHP systems, they have developed a large and extensive line of products that combine to make energy from Biogas and Natural gas Our products: z Biogas / Natural gas CHP from 75 – 2.000 kW z In house System programming z Gas cleaning z 24 Hrs 7 days a week service z Project management from idea to realisation Advantages: z Competent experienced team z Highest reliability and availability due to individual design and technology for your project z D&B build and design ready to use with in house employees z WE have our own service department with experience of more than 750 units worldwide. z Individual solutions offered for each possible CHP according to customer specifications See us on the web at: Dreyer & Bosse Kraftwerke GmbH Streßelfeld 1, 29475 Gorleben, Germany fon +49 5882 9872-0 • fax +49 5882 9872-20 •

November/December 2013 • 23

technology news

Vogelsang improves existing biogas products Vogelsang, a supplier of pumping, shredding, distribution and spreading technologies has developed new products for the biogas sector. The company’s latest Biogasmax consultancy services aim to increase the potential of existing biogas plants and provide support to operators based on a systematic advisory approach. Vogelsang also hopes to achieve reduced operating costs, lower energy consumption, increased gas yield and

boosted performance of the entire biogas plant. In addition, Vogelsang’s EnergyJet solid matter feeder, first introduced to the market in 2012, now features a new design. The geometry and arrangement of parts of the mashing screw have been upgraded; it has been divided into two parts, improving access and making the blade easier to change. The screw blades are now more durable, increasing the service time. The new EnergyJet EJ400-CS closed system model is designed for difficult co-substrates and can also be retrofitted into existing biogas plants. A flange on the side for a solid matter screw replaces the old fixture for solid

The EJ400-CS from Vogelsang

matter transfer, meaning difficult co-substrates such a grass or dung are easily

processed by being mashed together and then conveyed into the digester. l

Brewing company uses sonic horn for boiler ash build-up Alaskan Brewing has installed a sonic horn from Martin Engineering to help improve ash flow and prevent clogging in the exhaust stream of its boiler system that uses spent grain from the brewing process as fuel. The Martin Sonic Horn is an acoustic cleaner that has been used in the process industries, particularly cement manufacturing. In addition to its low cost of ownership, acoustic cleaning helps avoid structural fatigue or damage. Especially effective around

tubes and behind obstacles, sonic energy de-bonds particulates with a 360° sweep, cleaning inaccessible surfaces. The horns work by producing a low-frequency, high-pressure sound wave, which is created when compressed air flexes a titanium diaphragm in the sound generator. This sound wave is then magnified as it is emitted through the cleaner’s bell. The pressure causes dry particulate deposits to resonate and become fluidised, allowing them to be removed by constant gas flow or gravity. Martin Engineering supplies conveyor products, flow aids and industrial vibrators for a range of bulk material handling applications. l

24 • November/December 2013

The acoustic cleaner helped the brewery develop an ash handling process

Bioenergy Insight

technology news

New material feeder from Samson Samson Materials Handling, part of the Aumund Group, has launched a new series of material feeders. The MF08 series is suitable for heavy duty applications with continuous use including

impact loading from articulated dump trucks and large loading shovels. It is suitable for materials with bulk density up to 2.6 tonnes/ m³ and lumps up to 400mm. This includes alternative fuels in addition to coal, clays and shale and heavy mineral ores. The latest material feeder is self-propelled and

Samson’s MF08 material feeder

operates via an integrated diesel power supply offering flexibility on site. Self-

steering is carried out via the umbilical control. l

Nijhuis and H2OK announce merger Nijhuis Water Technology is to acquire UK water and energy company H2OK Water and Energy. H2OK offers anaerobic digestion and effluent treatment to the food and drink industry. Nijhuis CEO Menno Holterman says the acquisition ‘fits with our

strategy to expand our global market presence and establish local presence in emerging and key markets’. He adds: ‘Environmental standards around the UK are continuously improving and thereby forcing industry to invest in industrial effluent and recycling solutions. Add diminishing water supplies and a government which is stimulating investments in anaerobic digestion, renewable energy and diverting food waste from

landfill, the opportunity for our innovative products is clear.’ The acquisition came about after the two companies established a

joint venture two years ago. ‘The acquisition is a natural follow-up on the strategic cooperation between both our companies,’ explains Tim Cunliffe, H2OK MD. l

Warren and Baerg introduces biomass bin meter Warren and Baerg has developed a new metering bin that can be used in the biomass, agriculture and waste industries. The model MSB6-20-O Metering-Surge Bin enables the loading of fibrous materials with a front-end loader. It provides a consistent, even flow of material for various applications and provides cost-effective metering of shredded or ground woods, stover, grasses, paper, cardboard, plastics and other similar materials from low rates to well over 100 tonnes per hour. The metering bin is built with straight side walls or can have a flared front and back walls for additional capacity and loading room. The flared back is gusseted and supported. l

Bioenergy Insight

November/December 2013 • 25

technology news

Clarke and Agri-gen create energy from waste heat Agri-gen, a developer of biogas plants, has signed an order with Clarke Energy to supply technology to its anaerobic digester in Ipswich, UK. This is the first order for Clarke’s Clean Cycle units, which create electricity from waste heat. Clarke first supplied and commissioned a 3MW biogas engine at Agri-gen’s Ipswich AD plant, which handles energy crops such as root vegetables, in early 2013. The jacket water from the gas engine was used to heat the digesters, however there was no immediate local use for the heat in the exhaust of the engine which was vented to atmosphere. Recognising the potential value of this waste heat

Two of Clarke Energy’s Clean Cycle units will be installed at Agri-gen’s biogas plant

as a driver for additional renewable electricity, Agri-ren contracted Clarke in September to supply two Clean Cycle units. The order includes the delivery of two GE Clean Cycle heat-to-power generators. Under the local temperature conditions, the two units

will boost total output by 228kW. The units will raise the electrical efficiency of the gas-to-power plant from 43 to 46.2%, generating additional revenue from biogas Feed-in Tariffs (FITs). The heat conversion process, known as Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC), uses

an organic working fluid and a small generator to turn the waste heat from the gas engine into additional electrical energy. In the new configuration jacket, water heat from the gas engine is used to heat the digesters and in parallel pre-heat the Clean Cycle working fluid. The ORC units operate in a closed loop and there is no waste or emissions from the system. Under the local conditions the units will initially generate a total of 228kW for export to the local grid. As the system works on the basis of a temperature gradient the ambient temperature of the site is an important factor. Under the current FIT of 9.24p/kW hour the units will generate in excess of £160,000 per year for the plant from waste heat and in addition to the revenues from the original biogas engine. l

BlueLevel develops level sensor BlueLevel Technologies, a manufacturer and supplier of bin level indicators and silo inventory monitors, has developed an admittance point level sensor to detect the presence and absence of liquid, slurries and bulk solids in a variety of applications. The model AP/APX RF includes new high and super high temperature versions. The high temperature model includes stainless steel and PEEK probe construction for use in process temperatures up to 150°C. The super high temperature version is for use in applications where the process temperature can reach 450°C on a continuous basis and utilises stainless steel and ceramic probe materials construction. All probe versions include integral electronics with a universal power

26 • November/December 2013

New level sensors from BlueLevel

supply, DPDT relay output that is failsafe on power failure and a remote function test input. The model AP unit

for ordinary locations features a large lens for visible local LED indication of the normal/alarm status. l

Bioenergy Insight

technology news

BTA to supply technology to renewable energy centre in Scotland BTA International has been appointed by Interserve as a technology provider for the design, construction and commissioning of the Glasgow Recycling and Renewable Energy Centre (GRREC). Interserve is the construction subcontractor for the project and BTA will design and supervise the commissioning of the pre-treatment step. This will remove the remaining contaminants from the organic fraction from the municipal solid waste (MSW) obtained in the material recycling facility. It will then produce a clean organic suspension for the further treatment in the AD plant. BTA will also install its wet mechanical pretreatment technology Hydromechanical and a control unit. Hydromechanical pretreatment removes impurities and separates the digestible organic compounds into an organic suspension. The €7.1 million GRREC, which is planned to be commissioned in 2015, will treat 200,000 tonnes per year of residual kerb-side collected municipal waste in the city of Glasgow. From this, up to 90,000 tonnes per year will enter Hydromechanical pre-treatment.l

Bioenergy Insight

Agraferm secures contract for UK AD plant

AD plant manufacturer Agraferm Technologies has signed a contract to build its tenth biogas plant in the UK.

The project, which is worth around €4 million, is the construction of a biomethane plant in Norfolk, scheduled to be

completed and commissioned next year. Other biomethane plants built by Agraferm include a facility in Dorest which was the first agriculture-based biomethane plant in the UK to feed into the national grid. Here the biogas is upgraded to natural gas quality and fed to Scotia Gas Networks, providing the town of Poundbury with electricity and gas. l

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02.10.2013 13:06:38 Uhr November/December 2013 • 27

green page Going further to find bioenergy Calling all adventurers! If the thrill of making new discoveries in a laboratory simply isn’t exciting enough for you, take a look into this news coming out of Peru. It’s been reported the Ministry of Energy and Mines has released a study revealing the possibility for alternative power sources within the Peruvian Amazon, particularly the regions of Madre de Dios, San Martin, Loreto and Ucayali. The study states Loreto and Ucayali have the potential to generate 20MW with bioenergetic sources, San Martin could produce up to 15MW with bioenergy and Madre de Dios has the potential to generate 5MW using bioenergy resources.

‘Forget the gold mines and rare furs, I’ve clocked some biomass!’

According to local news agency Andina, the possible energy sources that lie hidden within the Peruvian Amazon are dependent on the efficient use of the biomass, which could be utilised as fuel. The Ministry’s report suggests the creation of briquettes or

A real zest for renewable jet fuel Next time you’re adding some extra flavour to a fish and chip supper, keep in mind that fruity addition may very well be a standard renewable feedstock of the future. A researcher at the University of Queensland hopes to use a chemical found in lemons and other citrus fruits to produce clean, renewable jet fuel. Claudia Vickers, a senior researcher at the Systems and Synthetic Biology Group at the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, is modifying baker’s yeast to produce a synthetic form of the natural chemical limonene. ‘Limonene is a volatile chemical that is best known for contributing to the smell of citrus fruits,’ Vickers explains. Limonene extracted from citrus peel had been used as a jet fuel component in demonstration flights in the past, but the process of extracting it on a large-scale is highly impractical and not commercially viable. Vickers has pioneered the use

28 • November/December 2013

of bacterial or yeast cells, the genes to produce limonene are genetically transferred into them from citrus plants, as industrial limonene incubators. ‘Producing it in yeast should provide a route to much greater yields of limonene which are easier to extract,’ she adds. ‘It might sound unlikely but limonene one day could be a renewable, clean source of aviation fuel.’ Vickers’ research into synthetic limonene builds on earlier Queensland

pellets from biomass would be in order to facilitate burning it for energy. If you fancy grabbing a safari hat and walking stick then do let Bioenergy Insight know how you get on with your expedition. l

government-funded research at the AIBN, which demonstrated that sucrose from sugarcane is one of the best biofuel feedstocks available in the state. A US Department of Agriculture report predicts ‘green chemicals’ produced using biomass will represent 22% of the chemical market by 2025. In the meantime, as research continues, at least you now have an ice-breaker while at the bar of your next trade conference gathering. l

Top BI Tweets Here is a selection of interesting things from our Twitterverse! (@BioenergyInfo) National Forest Fdn. ‫@‏‬NationalForests6m “Forests are the lungs of the land, purifying...” Dr Matthew Aylott ‫@‏‬renewablewriter1h “Planes, Trains & Biomass” not a new Steve Martin movie but instead the ‘streamlined’ priorities of the Stobart Group REA ‫@‏‬REAssociation3h We need #wind #biomass & #solar to bridge the looming energy generation gap BLUElab ‫@‏‬BLUElabUofM12h <3 sustainable technologies, <3 sustainable communities, <3 GreatLakesBioenergy ‫@‏‬GLBioenergy19h November is #biofuels month at the Aldo Leopold Nature Center! GLBRC edu team helping to plan special exhibits

Sharp thinking: the limonene in citrus fruits could add to clean fuel production

Back Biomass ‫@‏‬BackBiomass2h New DECC survey shows 76% of the public support renewables and a large majority (60%) support biomass

Bioenergy Insight

incident report Bioenergy A summary of the recent major explosions, fires and leaks in the bioenergy industry Date




Haslemere, Surrey, UK


Aurora, Missouri, US


Port of Tyne, UK


Ironbridge Power Station, Shropshire, UK

Incident information A biomass boiler room with space to store 5 tonnes of wood pellets caught fire. Fire crews responded to the incident at around 2.45am. The blaze, which was reported to have damaged 80% of the building and contents, took more than two hours to extinguish. The cause was found to be accidental.

MFA Oil Biomass

A fire which broke out at the MFA Oil Biomass wood pellet production is reported to have caused $150,000 (€109,000) worth of damage. The plant was temporarily shut down, however no injuries were reported. The cause of the incident is currently being investigated. MFA’s plant uses miscanthus to produce the pellets. The cause of a fire which broke out at the UK’s Port of Tyne is under investigation. Around 50 fire fighters responded to the incident, which originated inside a wood pellet storage facility at around 3pm. The port’s operations were not disrupted and the property sustained minimal damage, according to reports. An external conveyor transfer tower will need to undergo some repair work. The blaze was soon brought under control and contained within the facility. No one was injured. Clean-up operations have begun and crews have started to assess and repair the damage and determine the cause.


Fire crews were called to the power station at around 9am and found smouldering biomass on 10m2 of land. The fire is not thought to have started in the power station’s main building. It was quickly doused and nobody was injured. Operations remained unaffected.

Bioenergy Insight magazine brings you a new weekly newsletter focusing exclusively on bioenergy. Updates will cover new pellet, biogas and biopower plants, new types of biomass, production technologies and the latest industry regulations.

Free weekly bioenergy news! For advertising queries contact: • +44 (0) 203 551 5752 To submit company news please email

Bioenergy Insight

November/December 2013 • 29

Bioenergy regulations German industry association calls for the abolition of the FIT system now re-elections are over

FITs: No longer a fit for Germany?


erman industry federation Bundesverband der Deutschen Industrie’s (BDI) calls for a restructuring of renewable energy policies could see the elimination of the nation’s Feed-in Tariff (FIT) scheme which helped the nation become Europe’s largest producer of renewable energy. Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has begun her third term in office after winning Germany’s election towards the end of September, previously said that if she won, the current subsidy system would be overhauled. BDI hopes to see such a reform in the new government’s first 100 days. Such a restructure comes as an effort to cap the rising cost of energy. The ever-popular FIT scheme, first introduced in the 1990s and providing producers with a long-term guaranteed price for the green electricity they feed into the grid, has created a surge in the number of renewable

projects being developed; around 25% of Germany’s power is today derived from renewable resources. However, the FIT programme is also being blamed for higher energy prices. Electricity consumers are funding these financial incentives — in place to help the nation reach its

Cyprus and Denmark. For this reason BDI, which represents around 100,000 companies including Siemens and Volkswagen, says the FIT scheme should be abolished as rising electricity prices are proving detrimental to industry competitiveness, and has released a proposal for reform.

The German population is now paying the most for electricity compared to any other EU country, excluding Cyprus and Denmark 2050 goal of sourcing 80% of its energy needs from renewables — through a surcharge added onto their bills. These surcharges rose by 47% to €14.1 billion in 2013 alone and are forecasted to rise to €20.4 billion next year. According to EU data, the German population is now paying the most for electricity compared to any other EU country, excluding

30 • November/December 2013

In its paper — Energy Transition Holistic Thinking — published just before the federal elections which took place on 22 September, BDI suggests the industry should move away from FITs and towards market instruments and market integration of renewable energy. It attributes the rising energy prices to renewable energy and instead believes subsidies

should be available to early technology developments for a short period of time only, as these require the most investment. ‘In addition to the prevailing uncertainty about the future regulatory framework, as a result of short-term planning and action by market participants, it [the FIT] brings especially the currently increasing number of volatile renewable energies which increase the total system significantly,’ BDI CEO Markus Kerber was quoted as saying. The paper also calls for an integrated approach, which includes ensuring the profitability of conventional power plants to ensure a security of supply, incentives for investment in climate protection, grid financing and incentives to make demand for flexible. Despite indicating that renewable energy policy reform is on the cards, Merkel has not yet offered any details on how it will be achieved. l

Bioenergy Insight

regulations Bioenergy The US government is under pressure to pass a new five-year Farm Bill which would provide $900m for USDA energy programmes

Out with the old, in with the new


n a letter to senior members of the House and Senate Committees on Agriculture, the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) and other renewable energy and chemical advocates urged the government to pass a new five-year Farm Bill. The letter, addressed to Senate Agriculture chairwoman Debbie Stabenow and ranking member Thad Cochran, and House Agriculture chairman Frank Lucas and ranking member Collin Peterson, was signed by 50 renewable chemical companies and read: ‘We urge you to support strong rural energy and biobased economy policies in the Farm Bill conference report. In particular, we ask that you include the conference report Title IX of the Senatepassed Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013, which reauthorises rural energy and bio-based economy programmes through 2018, provides key funding for core Title IX Programmes, and makes key policy improvements that will allow the renewable chemical and bio-based products sectors to continue on its trajectory of growth.’ The Farm Bill that the Senate passed in June differs from the House-passed version by providing nearly $900 million (€650 million) in mandatory funding for USDA energy programmes and grants renewable chemical companies access to the Biorefinery Assistance and the Biomass Research and Development schemes.

Bioenergy Insight

The Energy Title IX of the Senate-passed version of the Farm Bill ‘supported the development of farm and community renewable energy systems through various programmes, grants and procurement assistance initiatives. Provisions covered the production, marketing and processing of biofuel

Chris Van Hollen also called on Lucas and Peterson to invest in the programmes. Their request read: ‘While we understand the difficult task you face of meeting budget constraints, we emphasise the importance of these bipartisan energy investments, which represent an important and growing

BIO: Mandatory funding will benefit renewable chemical companies

feedstocks; expanded research, education and demonstration programmes for advanced biofuels; USDA coordination of federal bio-based energy efforts; grants for procurements of bio-based products to support development of biorefineries; assistance for eligible farmers, ranchers and rural small businesses in purchasing renewable energy systems; and user education programmes, among others’. Reps. Dave Reichert and

component of the agricultural economy. Again, in order for these programmes to be successful, we strongly encourage the necessary investment in the energy title to be included within the conference agreement and appreciate your consideration of this request.’ In response, the Agriculture Energy Coalition thanked Reichert and Van Hollen. Lloyd Ritter, the coalition’s co-director, said: ‘The Farm Bill Energy Title programmes

help grow the agricultural economy by opening access to critical project capital, ensuring that investments continue to be made in rural energy development. These investments in energy efficiency projects and renewable energy systems provide energy security, environmental benefits and economic growth opportunities to the US. Reauthoriation and robust mandatory funding of these programmes over the next five years will build on that success.’ BIO echoed the calls for robust funding and, in a separate letter written to the agricultural leaders in September, said it does not support an extension to the Farm Bill which has now expired. ‘The current extension, which was signed into law early in 2013 and will expire on 30 September, provides no mandatory funding for Title IX energy programmes and contains no key renewable chemical reforms. The lack of certainty associated with a short-term Farm Bill extension is a disincentive to investors and to biotechnology company leaders seeking to make lasting business decisions that will create US jobs and reinvigorate America’s manufacturing sector.’ Now, after years of delays, public negotiations of a new five-year Farm Bill have begun. The first public meeting of the Farm Bill conference committee took place on 30 October and was chaired by Lucas. l

November/December 2013 • 31

Bioenergy regulations Those producing heating oil from biomass will be able to generate RINs under the US RFS

EPA broadens ‘heating oil’ definition


he US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a final rule to expand the definition of ‘heating oil’ under the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS). The term heating oil now also applies to all renewable fuel oils that are used to generate heat to warm buildings or other facilities, under a new category ‘fuel oils’. All fuels previously included in the original definition of heating oil continue to be included in the expanded definition. Fuels used to produce process heat, power or other functions do not fall under this new category and are not approved for the generation of Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs). With the definition of heating oil limited to renewable fuels that meet the chemical specifications of diesel blends commonly sold as heating oil, the EPA said it ‘received a number of requests to expand the definition of heating oil to include additional fuel oils that do not meet the existing definition’s technical specifications, but are nonetheless used for heating purposes’. The definition was finalised in 2010 and the addition of this new category now includes other fuel oils produced from qualifying renewable biomass. This action expands the

‘Heating oil’ now also refers to renewable fuel oils

scope of the term ‘heating oil’ in the RFS programme to allow the generation of RINs for renewable fuel oil that meets all other applicable requirements of the programme and that is used to heat places where people live, work or recreate. The new rules applying only to fuel oils qualifying as heating oil under the expanded definition are: • Minimum technical

32 • November/December 2013

specifications for qualifying fuel oils • Measures must be taken to ensure the fuel oil is intended for use as heating oil only. This includes collecting statements from end-users • All parties taking possession of the fuel oil must be aware of its limited use and the penalties for improper use • Fuel produced and

‘This newly expanded definition will help sustain growing renewable fuel production, particularly of advanced or cellulosic biofuels, in the heating oil market’ Michael McAdams, president of the Advanced Biofuels Association

designated as heating oil, and for which RINs have generated, cannot be used for any other purpose • Quarterly reporting requirements will ensure the fuel oil was received by the end user and used for its intended purpose. ‘The expanded definition could spur the production of advanced or cellulosic biofuel, producing additional opportunities for regulated parties to meet their annual RFS volume obligations,’ an EPA statement read. Additionally, the rule establishes registration, reporting, product transfer documentation and recordkeeping requirements. Producers and importers are required to have adequate documentation in order to demonstrate the fuel oil was, or will be, used to heat buildings for climate control for human comfort in order to generate RINs. Commenting on the EPA’s decision to expand the definition of heating oil, president of the Advanced Biofuels Association Michael McAdams said the association ‘applauds’ the move. ‘This newly expanded definition will help sustain growing renewable fuel production, particularly of advanced or cellulosic biofuels, in the heating oil market. This rule will allow actual gallons of advanced and cellulosic heating oil to be delivered this year to the market.’ l

Bioenergy Insight

regulations Bioenergy With the UK government set to introduce the new CfD support scheme, James Greenleaf of Baringa Partners discusses the key differences for bioenergy developers between this and the current RO

Bioenergy: the RO versus CfD regimes


n November 2012, the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) presented its long awaited Energy Bill to parliament. This marked the beginning of the final phase of DECC’s Electricity Market Reform (EMR) project, which has the explicit aim of attracting an estimated £110 billion (€129 billion) of investment required to decarbonise the electricity sector and maintain security of supply. The centrepiece of the reforms is the proposed introduction of Contracts for Difference (CfDs), essentially long-term contracts which will be available to all low carbon generation from 2014. The current Renewable Obligation (RO) — a tradeable certificates mechanism — will be closed to all new generation from 2017, and developers will be offered a one-off choice between the CfD and the RO mechanisms between 2014 and 2017. There are a number of key risks and opportunities that bioenergy developers will need to weigh up when deciding which regime to opt for. DECC is currently in a period of intensive consultation with industry and other key stakeholders in relation to the Draft EMR delivery plan, focused primarily on setting the strike prices for CfDs1, and the transition from the

Bioenergy Insight

Figure 1: Simplified overview of CfD-specific timelines under EMR

RO to CfDs2, both of which closed on 25 September 2013. The consultation on proposals for detailed implementation of the overall EMR framework3 will also close on 24 December. Figure 1 outlines DECC’s latest timelines for implementation, which contain the goal of awarding the first CfD contracts by the end of 2014. Price risk for bioenergy under CfDs and the RO One of the key objectives of the CfD mechanism is to provide greater long-term certainty to low carbon

investors. The CfD will be a long-term, private-law contract where key terms cannot be altered, even in the event a future government seeks to change policy objectives. At the time of contract award, investors will be able to lock in a CfD ‘strike price’ for 15 years, set at a level sufficient to cover the long-run costs of their low carbon technology. By contrast the RO allows for the support levels, in terms of number of Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs) per MWh generated, for each technology to be locked in for a period of 20 years. The value of ROCs can fluctuate

in the market, but the price is currently underpinned by a commitment from government to maintain a 10% ‘headroom’ in the size of the obligation relative to the expected supply of ROCs. To ensure certainty for investors as the mechanism winds down, the headroom will be maintained until 2027, at which point ROC prices will be fixed until the mechanism finally closes in 2037. However, investors under the RO remain fully exposed to the long-term wholesale price, which will be a function of global commodities prices and the generation mix, which is itself a function

November/December 2013 • 33

Bioenergy regulations of government policy. The difference in long-term price risk is arguably the most fundamental change between the RO and CfD mechanisms. The RO leaves developers exposed to longterm movements in wholesale prices, as it pays a premium on top of a variable market price. This creates both upside and downside risks as outturn total revenues could be higher or lower than expected at the time of investment. Developers under the RO may seek to manage these risks through long-term power purchase agreements (PPA) which may include price protection on the downside. The CfD removes the exposure to long-term wholesale price movements, as support payments are variable, based on the difference between the market reference price and the fixed strike price. This has the effect of stabilising revenues at the strike price, removing both upside and downside long-term price risk. Figure 2 illustrates schematically how the CfD mechanism operates. CfD strike prices will be fully indexed to inflation (CPI) and for some technologies indexation to fuel prices may apply (coal/ gas with carbon capture and storage, for example). However, the lack of a single, established biomass price index and the diversity of feedstocks makes it difficult to calculate a single biomass price to index against. As a result government remains minded not to link the CfD strike price to fuel costs for biomass, and generators will continue to be responsible for managing this risk themselves, as per the RO. There will, therefore, be limited circumstances in which the strike price can be altered. However, provided the developer can continue to sell power into the market and achieve close to the relevant reference price,

Figure 2: Overview of CfD operation

locking the CfD strike price into a long-term contract should reduce price risk for investors. For bioenergy plants that would qualify for ‘baseload’ CfDs, the reference price will be set against a forward price, as opposed to intermittent plants such as wind, which will be set against a dayahead reference price. There has been significant debate between DECC and industry with regard to the use of annual forward prices versus much nearer-term prices to set the reference price for baseload CfDs. While nearer-term references prices, such as those based on a similar day-ahead index as wind, reduce the potential for basis risk4, DECC considers that using this approach for baseload generation could distort trading decisions and reduce incentives to time maintenance appropriately, thereby increasing overall costs. To try to balance these issues DECC is proposing to calculate a forward seasonal price index, updated every six months, with further details to be developed in the coming months. Given the overall difference in risk profiles between the two schemes, investors are likely to seek

34 • November/December 2013

higher returns under the RO mechanism relative to a CfD mechanism (all else being equal). The need for higher returns under the RO may be exacerbated by the longterm ‘price-cannibalisation’ effect, in which RO plants are exposed to diminishing returns as the volume of subsidised renewables on the system increases and depresses wholesale prices. DECC has already published draft strike prices for renewable technologies5, which, for bioenergy, range from £65/MWh for landfill gas to £120/MWh for dedicated new biomass combined heat and power (CHP). By contrast, new dedicated biomass CHP will receive two ROCs in 2013/14 dropping to 1.8 ROCs by 2016/17. With the longterm value of a ROC (buyout price plus headroom) worth approximately £46/ MWh in current prices and an average current wholesale price of approximately £50/ MWh this is equivalent to approximately 130/ MWh, although there would likely be PPA discounts factored into the final value achievable by the developer. The RO plant is still exposed to significant longterm risk in wholesale price

fluctuations whereas the CfD mechanism is intended to largely shield investors from this effect. The potential for the CfD mechanism to lower the required rate of return for investors and thus costs to consumers, while maintaining market-based incentives, were the primary reasons offered by DECC for preferring it over alternative options under EMR. Even with this shielding of long-term price risk, it should be noted that, under both the RO and CfDs, electricity off-take and imbalance risks remain with the generator and will need to be managed accordingly. Future imbalance risks in particular are expected to rise as more intermittent generation is brought onto the system and will also be subject to the outcome of Ofgem’s Electricity Balancing Significant Code Review (EBSCR). Among other things, Ofgem is minded to make the cost of system energy balancing actions more cost-reflective, exposing generators who are out of balance in the same direction as the system (e.g. due to an unplanned outage on a biomass plant when the system is already short) to more penal ‘cash-out’ prices.

Bioenergy Insight

regulations Bioenergy Funding risks for bioenergy under CfDs and the RO While the potential exists for subsidy support for a range of bioenergy technologies under both the RO (at least up to its closure in 2017) and via CfDs, there are two key concerns with regard to the overall level of available support: biomass sustainability and the Levy Control Framework (LCF). Sustainability While the overarching sustainability criteria for new bioenergy plants will be similar under both regimes, DECC has decided not to offer a CfD for dedicated new electricity-only biomass plants as part of a policy to encourage more sustainable long-term use of bioenergy in CHP (or eventually Carbon Capture Storage (CCS)) and more cost-effective use in the near- to mediumterm through conversion of the existing coal stock. In parallel, DECC has capped the remaining dedicated new build electricity-only plants that are eligible for grandfathering under the RO (i.e. not subject to retrospective policy changes on the level of support) to 400 MW. This has intensified the race between developers to get guaranteed support through the RO before the scheme closes. There is also limited flexibility to transition from the RO to the CfD schemes after support has been received under the RO. However, one of the few exceptions to this rule is for existing co-fired stations under the RO, which may convert and receive a CfD as a biomass conversion.

LCF The LCF is a cap on low carbon support payments imposed by the UK treasury. It covers CfDs, the RO and smallscale Feed-in Tariffs. The total budget is shown in figure 3, although the ‘budget’ to allocate to each scheme is yet to be determined. From the perspective of investors, the finite nature of the LCF ‘pot’ and variability in CfD support payments may introduce a risk for new investors looking to secure support, as the volume of investment that can be supported by the CfD mechanism will fluctuate over time, in particular with wholesale prices. Investors looking to establish longterm supply chains in the UK may be concerned at the potential for the ‘pipeline’ of support payments to dry up as wholesale prices reduce, or if the volume of large low carbon investment under CfDs (e.g. nuclear or wind) is greater than anticipated. In order to maintain cost control, it is expected that CfDs will initially be issued through a first come first served process before ultimately moving to ‘constrained allocation rounds’ when a material portion of the CfD budget has been committed. Projects subject to rationing under the constrained allocation will be ranked according to the strike prices they offer, with the cheapest projects securing CfDs. This will be subject to the overall budget and potential minimum and maximum constraints on ‘categories’ (i.e. technologies or groups of technologies), which are still to be defined. DECC is proposing that

rationing would take place via a ‘pay-as-clear’ auction. For categories that are subject to binding minima or maxima, the clearing price would be the most expensive accepted bid in each category. By contrast, for categories which are not subject to binding maxima the clearing price would be equivalent to the most expensive accepted bid before the overall budget constraint (for that delivery year) is reached. The strike price paid to a project would be the lower of the administrative strike price for the technology, or the clearing price established for the category. A number of open questions still remain with respect to the allocation rules, for example the interdependencies between years, which DECC is aiming to finalise by December. All of this means that individual bioenergy technologies will likely come into competition with each other, as well as other low carbon technologies, for a limited pot of CfD support at some point in the future. This could happen sooner than expected given the rapid on-going expansion of technologies, such as wind, as well as potential biomass conversion of existing coal plants (e.g. over 5GW if considering Drax, Eggborough and Rugeley facilities), providing additional impetus for those developers who are able to act early. Summary With the publication of draft strike prices, biomass and other low carbon developers are now looking to secure support as soon as possible, to avoid the













Figure 3: Overview of LCF (2011/2012 money)

Bioenergy Insight

possibility of missing out under the overarching LCF. While support for CfDs will be granted on a technologyspecific basis initially, the limited pool of funding and the trigger for constrained allocation means bioenergy technologies will likely come into competition with each other, as well as other low carbon technologies. This could happen sooner than expected given the rapid deployment of wind and potential for significant coal-to-biomass conversion. In addition, the lack of CfD support for new biomass electricity-only plants means there is a rush to gain what remaining support is available under the RO. While there is a small window of opportunity up to 2017 to choose between support under the RO and the CfDs the decision is not clear cut, as the different long-term price risk profiles offered by the RO and CfD mechanisms may appeal to different investment classes. Some investors may prefer stable but lower returns (e.g. pension funds), while others may prefer to take on the price exposure in exchange for a higher return (e.g. private equity). l


1 consultations/consultationon-the-draft-electricitymarket-reform-delivery 2 consultations/transition-fromthe-renewables-obligation-tocontracts-for-difference 3 government/consultations/ proposals-for-implementationof-electricity-market-reform 4 In terms of investors being able to sell their output at the reference price. 5 uploads/system/uploads/ attachment_data/file/209361/ Levy_Control_Framework_and_ Draft_CfD_Strike_Prices.pdf

For more information:

This article was written by James Greenleaf, senior manager in Baringa Partners’ Energy Advisory Services practice,

November/December 2013 • 35

Bioenergy profile Energy giant Everbright International is building its second biomass power generation plant in China. Keeley Downey speaks to the company’s executive director to find out why it entered the biomass market just two years ago

Doubling up


nder its 12th Five-Year Plan, introduced in March 2011, China aims to increase its total renewable energy consumption to 478 million tonnes of coal equivalent by 2015. This would represent approximately 9.5% of the overall energy consumption in the country. During this latest five-year period (2011-2015), new installed renewable energy capacity will reach 160GW, 7.5GW of which will come from biomass power. This figure is lower than what is being contributed by other renewable sources such as wind (70GW), hydropower (61GW) and solar (20GW). It is important to remember, however, that China’s biomass industry has only been established for around 10 years and that the 5.5GW of biomass generation installed capacity, set under the nation’s Medium- and LongTerm Development Plan for Renewable Energy and the 11th Five-Year Renewable Energy

Development Plan, were met. With an abundance of feedstock — primarily agricultural, forestry and industrial wastes — and new government incentives, the potential for biomass to help China become a major consumer of renewable fuels is great; the Chinese government has published a biomass installed capacity target of 30GW by 2020. In 2006 financial support for biomass-derived power came in the form of a RMB0.25 (€0.03) per kWh Feed-in Tariff (FIT) under the Renewable Energy

36 • November/December 2013

law. In 2010, however, this was amended to RMB0.75/ kWh when the National Development and Reform Commission announced a new national FIT for biomass power. Favourable tax policies are also in place for renewable power generated from residues of the agricultural and forestry industries: an income tax deduction of 10% and VAT is eligible for immediate refund. Penetrating new markets This amended supportive policy for the biomass sector saw environmental protection business developer Everbright International, the Hong Kongbased flagship company of China Everbright Holdings Company, enter the biomass-topower market for the first time. Currently the company has secured around RMB18.7 billion in the development of over 70 environmental protection projects, serving more than 20 cities in China. Since 2011 it has been operating a biomass power generation plant in Dangshan, Anhui province and is building its second plant in Hanshan, which is expected to enter commercial operations

at the end of next year. ‘We started building our Dangshan plant in September 2010 and felt that was the right time to enter the market because of the introduction of the RMB0.75/kWh FIT,’ Everbright International’s executive director and CFO Raymond Wong tells Bioenergy Insight. ‘It started commercial operations one year later.’ With a famous pear orchard that spans almost 47,000 hectares, Dangshan generates large volumes of waste fruit branches. Everbright International’s RMB312 million plant takes advantage of this waste biomass, in addition to wood scraps, and burns 300,000 tonnes of it a year to generate around 220 million kWh of electricity which is sold to the grid. Wong goes on to say that, in addition to the Dangshan plant, Everbright International proposed to build a further five biomass-fired power plants back in 2010, set to cost a total RMB2 billion, but only the Dangshan project was approved. ‘For the past two years the government has not approved any biomass projects,’ he

Bioenergy Insight

profile Bioenergy explains. ‘A cap was introduced on how many biomass plants could be built within a 100km radius because, in some smaller areas, too many projects were approved and this resulted in competition for the biomass feedstock. It drove up material costs and made some projects unprofitable. The government realised this problem and so introduced a policy to regulate the number of plants being built within a certain area. This is important to provide healthier conditions for the biomass sector.’ Everbright International’s second biomass-to-power plant, located in Hanshan, became the first to receive government approval following the suspension on developing more facilities two years ago. Construction began in June and it is on track to come online by the end of 2014. ‘Our new project in Hanshan was the only one to get the green light,’ Wong comments. ‘Hanshan is an area rich in biomass resources but with a limited number of biomass operators. Building a project here means we can secure a steady supply of biomass resources and we believe the plant will be profitable, just as Dangshan is.’ The company’s second biomass power generation facility is not dissimilar to its first: total investment is expected to reach around RMB320 million and it will generate similar volumes of renewable electricity, this time from cotton straw. But there will also be differences.

Everbright International’s biomass power generation plant in Dangshan burns 300,000 tonnes of biomass such as waste fruit branches

Wong divulges: ‘We have learned a lot from building the Dangshan facility so, in Hanshan, we will make some modifications in the construction. We plan to build the plant in a more efficient and cost-saving manner, and we are also planning to expand the biomass storage area by around 70% compared to our first project. By expanding we believe the feedstock can be stored in better conditions before it is sent to the incinerator, thereby raising the heat value of the waste

in the incineration process.’ Everbright International’s wholly owned subsidiary, Everbright Environmental Protection Engineering Technology, was contracted to build both the biomasspowered plants. ‘By doing so we are able to control the cost of each project and monitor the progress,’ says Wong. ‘We are able to maintain the high standards and quality of the construction.’ More investment is key With waste-to-energy activities accounting for over 60% of its total investment portfolio, Everbright International is an experienced project developer and its renewable plants are proving attractive to commercial banks. ‘We received financial support from commercial banks in the PRC for our Dangshan plant and in 2012 we signed a loan agreement with Asian Development

Bank (ADB),’ Wong reveals. Under the agreement in 2012, ADB will award Everbright International with four loans up to $200 million for agricultural and municipal waste-to-energy projects in China. ADB says these projects are expected to consume 7,300 tonnes of waste each day, generating around 1,240GWh a year of electricity by 2016. Summing up the biomass sector in China, Wong says: ‘This is still a relatively new industry. It holds promise for the future but there is room for improvement, like more available project financing. As biomass power generation is still relatively new, not many commercial banks are willing to offer funding. ‘The government’s efforts to regulate the number of biomass plants in a certain area, and the new FIT programme will help with the healthy long-term development of biomass power generation.’ l

The Dangshan plant opened in 2011 and Everbright International is now building its second

Bioenergy Insight

November/December 2013 • 37

Bioenergy profile Independent biogas producer Green Elephant has big dreams for its mini power plant

There’s an Elephant in the room


by Keeley Downey

reen Elephant is a company that does exactly what it says on the tin. Founded in Germany in 2008, it builds, owns and operates renewable ‘green’ energy facilities in India which use residual organic material. And, with over 12 biogas plants already installed, it is one of the largest waste-to-energy companies in the nation. The largest project built by Green Elephant to date — and also one of the largest biogas upgrade plants in the whole of Asia — is located in the Satara district of Maharashtra, close to the Kisan Veer Satara SSK sugar factory. The biogas plant handles 600 tonnes a day of organic waste collected from the sugar mill’s production process, which is converted into 28,000m3 of biogas per

day. An estimated 19,200m3 of raw biogas is upgraded to 10,560m3 of compressed biogas daily and is bottled and sold to industries located within a 40-50km radius. Approximately 8,000m3 of raw gas is sold to the sugar company. The plant is estimated to slash the operation’s emissions by around 6,779 tonnes of CO2 annually. It came online in November 2010 after Green Elephant secured debt funding through the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency, which has refinanced the loan by KfW in Germany. Under three agreements signed between the two companies (civil construction, land-lease and delivery of raw materials), Kisan Veer provides Green Elephant with unlimited access to a plot of land for 20 years and 600m3

The Green-Box can turn food waste into biogas

38 • November/December 2013

a day of spent wash for the biogas production. In return, Kisan Veer receives a fixed price per m3 of waste on a monthly basis and is therefore profiting directly by providing its waste to Green Elephant. Felix-Michael Weber, Green Elephant CEO, says: ‘India is the second largest producer of sugar after Brazil. It is also the largest consumer of sugar so there are a lot of factories there. Previously

the Satara facility just threw away its waste, so this project benefits them as well because we now pay it a sum for every tonne of waste.’ Options aplenty Green Elephant’s biogas is most commonly used to generate renewable electricity in rural areas where there is no gas grid in place. In addition, the company has built some plants for the Puna Municipal Corp. where street and park lights are being powered by waste-derived energy. But renewable electricity is just one use for the biogas produced by Green Elephant; the majority is being used to replace fuels such as furnace oil and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). Weber explains: ‘Around 70% of India’s oil and gas is imported. We help India invest in and develop biogas plants which focus on gas applications. The gas is cleaned, compressed and sold in bottles at market prices to replace traditional fossil fuels like furnace oil or LPG.’ The gas is used mostly

Bioenergy Insight

profile Bioenergy for cooking purposes, but Weber says his company is also keen to sell it to the automotive industry to fuel vehicles but ‘this is not currently possible as stated in Indian regulations’. ‘We would like our gas to be used in the transportation sector,’ he comments. ‘We are talking to Indian governmental organisations and the minister of New and Renewable Energy and hope to be able to offer gas to the automotive industry in the future. It is of a high enough quality to do so but at the moment this is now allowed under the law.’ Thinking outside the box With such a large agricultural sector, India has the potential to reduce its dependence on imported fossil fuels and rely more on energy derived from renewable materials. However, the nation’s large industries, hotels and food outlets face hurdles in disposing of organic waste as the underdeveloped infrastructure for managing these materials cannot handle the rapidly growing volumes of waste. Today, much of it is sent to landfill. In order to reduce the large volumes of unutilised organic materials in India, Green Elephant has developed the ‘Green-Box’ — a prefabricated biogas plant contained within a transportable 40ft. container specifically designed to handle leftover food. ‘The Green-Box is particularly attractive to large

companies with canteens on-site, as well as hotels and restaurants. It can handle other organic materials but the most interest we’ve seen comes from those in the food sector,’ says Weber. Its portable design means this small-sized plant can be delivered from the production factory in Puna to its final destination via a lorry. It is ready to begin operations following a three-day installation period followed by four days for the biological commissioning. The Green-Box can handle between 200kg and 1.5 tonnes a day of organic matter, generating up to 40,000kWh a year of electricity plus organic fertliser. Weber continues: ‘These small-scale plants are getting popular in India. They give end-users the option of environmentally-friendly electricity and gas which is independent of the grid.’ Case study One company benefitting from the Green-Box is German car manufacturer Volkswagen, which has installed the small-scale biogas plant at its factory premises in Chakan, Maharashtra. Brought online in April 2013, Volkswagen’s GreenBox takes 0.5 tonnes a day of kitchen waste generated in the company’s canteen to produce around 40m3 of biogas, which is then re-used in the kitchen as cooking oil in a closed loop cycle.

The process also produces a bio-fertiliser and helps the company reduce its CO2 emissions by 18 tonnes a year. ‘This facility cost Volkswagen less than one of their SUV models in India,’ Weber reveals. ‘The GreenBox reduces investment cost while ensuring quality at the same time.’ It converts the waste via anaerobic digestion to biogas and features an automated system for handling and processing this waste. Once it enters the feeding system, the plant automatically begins crushing, mixing and feeding it into the digester, eliminating the previous labour-intensive process of crushing the feedstock. The automated system also avoids human error and ensures the plant is running at optimal conditions. ‘We maintain all of our plants to make sure the performance of the plant is as it should be,’ Weber explains. Other Indian companies, like Tata and JSW Steel, have also recently installed a Green-Box to process its leftover canteen food. Big plans All of Green Elephant’s projects are installed on-site by its own engineering company, Green Elephant Engineering. ‘We took over an existing Indian engineering company in 2010 which had a track record of building small- and midscale biogas plants,’ Weber

says. ‘We did this because construction companies in India don’t have the same level of expertise and knowhow as they do in Europe. For that reason we invested in our own engineering company and our staff have been trained by experts.’ In addition to its biogas plants already in operation throughout India, Green Elephant aims to build a further 30 projects by 2014 in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka as it looks to generate 250 million m3 of gas by 2015. Its latest project, known as Yeroda, was commissioned in May for the Pune Municipal Corp. As part of an agreement between the two companies, Green Elephant will operate and maintain the plant, which uses 5 tonnes of municipal solid waste to generate 175,000kWh annually, for five years. It is clear that Green Elephant has aspirations of becoming India’s largest producer of independent biogas. But the company has also set its sights further afield and believes its Green-Box technology can benefit other regions, such as Africa and central and Latin America. ‘We chose to enter the Indian market because of its large agricultural sector, and we are still currently focusing on India. However in the future we are planning to offer our services to countries in Africa and South America,’ according to Weber. l

The Satara plant

Bioenergy Insight

November/December 2013 • 39

Bioenergy xxxx

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The risks of financing a bioenergy project and how to appear more attractive to potential investors

A collection of thoughts from bioenergy producers around the world on what they think is in store for them over the next 12 months



A look at wood pellet quality standards and the technology available to ensure they are met

A look at automated bioenergy plants and the benefits of an automation system



The status of biogas production technologies and how these may be further developed

With Europe’s demand for pellets high, how is port infrastructure changing?



What techniques are being used to harness cellulose – the world’s most abundant organic compound?

What does the future hold for coal plant conversion projects?

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plant update Bioenergy

Renewable plant update – Asia Everbright International

Location Alternative fuel Capacity Feedstock Construction / expansion / acquisition Designer / builder Completion date Investment

Hanshan, Anhui province, China Biopower 184 million kWh Cotton straw Construction Everbright Environmental Protection Engineering Technology End 2014 RMB320 million (€38.2 million)

Shougang Holding Tianguan Group Location Alternative fuel Feedstock

Construction / expansion / acquisition Designer / builder Project start date

Henan province, China Biopower Waste biomass left over from the production of second generation ethanol production Construction DP Cleantech September 2013 (announced)

Caraga Renewable Power

Location Alternative fuel Capacity Feedstock Construction / expansion / acquisition Project start date Completion date Investment

Butuan city, the Philippines Biopower 20MW Woodchips Construction August 2013 (announced) 2016 $70 million (€50 million)

Green Innovations For Tomorrow Location Alternative fuel Capacity Feedstock Construction / expansion / acquisition Designer / builder Project start date Completion date Comment

Manila, Philippines Biopower 12MW Rice husks Construction Areva and its partner Engcon Energy Philippines October 2013 (announced) Mid-2015 The plant will be benefit around 10,000 households per year

GS EPS Showa Shell Sekiya Location Alternative fuel Capacity Feedstock Construction / expansion / acquisition Designer / builder Completion date Investment

Tokyo, Japan Biopower 49MW Woody biomass and palm kernel shells Construction JFE Holdings End of 2015 16 billion yen (€121.6 million)

Cool Planet Energy Systems and Acritaz Greentech Location Alternative fuel Feedstock

Construction / expansion / acquisition Investment

Bioenergy Insight

Johor, Malaysia Renewable fuels Biomass materials local to the region, including palm plantation waste products such as empty fruit bunches, wood and bark waste Construction $60 million (€43 million) by the end of 2013

Location Alternative fuel Capacity Feedstock

Seoul, South Korea Biopower 100MW Woodchips, cotton stalks, grass and agricultural waste Construction / expansion / Construction acquisition Project start date 2013 (announced) Completion date August 2015 Investment KRW300 billion won (€206 million) Hau Giang Power Plant Joint Stock Company Location

Six provinces in Vietnam: Dong Phap, Hau Giang, An Giang, Can Tho, Kiew Giang and Soe Trang Alternative fuel Biopower Capacity Twenty plants each producing 10MW Feedstock Rice husk biomass Construction / expansion / Construction acquisition Designer / builder CHE Group Project start date Construction on the first plant will begin in the second quarter of 2014 Completion date The entire project will finish in 2019 Investment $600 million (€444 million) This list is based on information made available to Bioenergy Insight by time of printing. If you would like to be a part of this feature please send new plant details or updates to Keeley Downey via

November/December 2013 • 41

Bioenergy asia Asia’s biomass-to-power sector is relatively new but the region is making waves which could see it rival Europe in the not-too-distant future

Attracting investors


ubsidies and support schemes for renewable energy across much of Europe could soon disappear. A recent surge in the development of renewable energies means last year was expensive for many EU countries, with states looking to limit such additional costs in the future. In Germany, for instance, Chancellor Angela Merkel is considering overhauling the current feed-in tariff (FIT) programme as its popularity is being blamed for rising energy prices. Over in the UK, the government is favouring flexible solutions which generate heat as well as power, as proven by the soon-to-be-introduced Contracts for Difference (CfD) support mechanism and the 400MW cap on new dedicated biomass capacity. While subsidisations are decreasing in many European nations, countries in Asia are ramping up support in a bid to encourage the consumption of renewable energy and shift away from importing fossil fuels. According to a report published in October by Germany-based consultancy Ecoprog almost 2,200 biomass power plants, totalling 17,500MW of capacity, will be built worldwide through to 2020 at a rate of 150 facilities a year. An estimated €10 billion will be invested annually. Asia will reportedly build twice as much capacity as Europe — about 1,000MW per year by 2020 — while Europe’s average build of 80 biomass-fired power plants a year will drop to 50 by 2020. The Ecoprog study also said ‘Asia will supersede Europe

as a leading market by 2020, both in terms of number of plants and capacity. However, the investments in Europe will remain the highest due to the more advanced technical standard and a larger need for maintenance’. Talking FITs In order to encourage the production and consumption of renewable energy, Malaysia and Thailand have recently introduced FITs and now join countries such as

The company will kick off the project with a $37 million 12MW plant in Aklan, which will handle woodchips, rice husks and rice straws. Asea selected an EPC contractor in June and site developments could start before the end of this year. Construction is estimated to take between 18 and 22 months to complete, when the power will be purchased by stateowned National Transmission. Another project that will contribute towards Asea’s overall development plan is a $90 million 30MW facility. The

‘China’s target of 30GW of renewable capacity by 2020 is a formidable challenge’ Simon Parker, CEO of DP CleanTech

Cambodia, the Philippines and Indonesia in the fight against fossil fuel imports. The Philippine Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), for example, approved FITs last June for several renewable energy forms including biomass, at a tariff currently set at P6.63 (€0.11) per kWh. This FIT is, however, less than the P7/kWh originally proposed by the National Renewable Energy Board in order to reflect the downward market trend of establishing renewable energy plants to ensure the efficiency of such projects benefitting from the FIT. With the Filipino government’s backing of the biomass sector, renewable energy developer Asea One Power has announced that it will invest around $185 million (€137 million) over the next five years to develop 60MW of biomass power, which it says will help stabilise the country’s electricity supply.

42 • November/December 2013

company is also eyeing sites in Luzon, Mindanao and Iloilo. The Iloilo province is located in the southeast portion of Panay Island in the Western Visayas region and is a popular location for biomass developments. Green Power Panay Philippines (GPPP) and Korea Environmental (KECO) are also considering developments there as, according to the Department of Energy, increasing demand for power there means an additional 50MW of electrical supply will be needed by 2016. In the third quarter of last year GPPP, a subsidiary of Global Green Power, began building two 17.5MW feedstockflexible biomass power plants on an eight hectare site in Mina, Iloilo. The EPC contract was awarded to China’s First Northeast Electric Power Engineering and both plants are scheduled to come online in 2015. They will cost P2.051 and P2.605 billion, respectively.

GPPP has signed an off-take agreement with local electric cooperatives ILECO 1 and ILECO 2 for 3MW and 7MW of power, respectively, which will be derived from agricultural and food processing wastes such as rice straw, sugarcane wastes and rice husks. While these two plants will benefit from the current FIT for biomass, the power purchase agreements will also create other advantages. GPPP’s president Maribeth de Montaigne was quoted as saying: ‘Submissions made to the Energy Regulatory Commission by ILECO 1, ILECO 2 and GPPP state that the incorporation of our power within the distribution networks of the electric cooperatives will lower the average rate of electricity to their consumers by an estimated 16%. This shows electricity generated by thermal biomass is a clean, renewable and competitive solution to the country’s energy needs while also lessening its dependence on imported coal and oil-based fuels.’ Global Green Power, along with its other subsidiary companies Nueva Ecija Philippines, Bukidnon Philippines and Cagayan Philippines, is said to be targeting the development of 360MW of thermal, multifuelled biomass power plants throughout the Philippines over the next six years. KECO, a South Korean power company, is also looking to contribute to Panay Island’s energy supply with the construction of a $22 million biomass power plant in Iloilo. It signed a memorandum of understanding with the Iloilo provincial government and International

Bioenergy Insight

asia Bioenergy Builders for the project in March, which includes a feasibility study, acquisition of licenses and other legal requirements, sourcing funds and obtaining land. Asia’s largest Korea is the tenth largest energy consumer in the world, 97% of which is imported. The government is working to reduce the country’s dependence on fossil fuel imports and, in 2012, introduced a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) that will see 10% of its

Don’t waste the waste

companies will develop a series of technologies for the pre-treatment and generation of power from the abundant supplies of oil palm biomass. This ongoing development for a range of technologies will cover the processing solutions for the production of renewable energy and biochemicals. Chong, CHE Group’s business director, says: ‘The palm oil industry needs to think about optimising its byproducts and not waste the waste. Biomass is no longer considered a waste product.’ Not wasting waste is something Malaysia’s Global

Malaysia’s government introduced FITs for the first time in 2011 but has already run into some difficulties. In order to fund this financial incentive, energy company Tenaga Nasional’s customers pay a 1% levy on top of their electricity bill and this is expected to raise MYR300 million (€69.7 million) this year alone. The Malaysian Sustainable Energy Development Authority (SEDA) allocates the FIT budget on a ‘first-come firstserved’ basis twice a year

2014 2015

2016 2017






RPS ratio 2.0 %











Source: Enerone

Year 2012 2013

Obligation rate of RPS in Korea

energy production come from renewables by 2022. The RPS requires 13 staterun and private power utilities with a capacity in excess of 500MW to generate 2% of their energy production from renewable sources by 2015. This percentage will increase in stages before it reaches 10% by 2022. The government envisions that just over 2% of this renewable energy portfolio will come from biomass. Independent power producer GS EPS is building a biomassfired power plant in Korea’s Chungnam province, hailed to be Asia’s largest with a capacity of over 100MW when it starts up in 2015. The plant, named Dangjin 4, will be part of an existing 1,500MW LNG-fired combined cycle power plant, phases one to three of which have been operating since 1996. GS EPS declined to comment about the current biomass market in Korea but, in an email to Bioenergy Insight, said the construction period will last from May 2013 until August 2015. When it comes online the facility will generate 105MW of electricity from woodchips.

Bioenergy Insight

and, while the budget for solar continues to be spent, applications for other sectors such as biomass and biogas are not so quick on the uptake for their quota. With that, the government is said to be considering overhauling the way it distributes FITs to the solar division. As the second largest producer of palm oil behind only Indonesia, Malaysia generates around 90 million tonnes of palm biomass a year, the majority of which is sent to landfill or abandoned. This biomass consists of empty fruit bunches, mesocarp fiber, oil palm trunks, oil palm fronds and palm kernel shells, as well as about 60 million tonnes of palm oil mill effluent. In order to increase the consumption of this currently underutilised feedstock and create an optimised solution for processing biomass, the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) signed a memorandum of agreement with biomass pre-treatment and power generation solution provider CHE Group from Malaysia in September 2012. Under the agreement the two

Green Synergy (GGS) agrees with. The company provides solutions for the treatment and processing of oil palm biomass to produce value-added products. It was established over five years ago to trade dried long fibre (DLF) before venturing into the development of oil palm biomass treatment and processing technologies to make products such as DLF, pellets and briquettes. GGS’s business model is unique in that it incorporates technology production with product trade. It first manufactures pellet and briquette production units which are sold to palm oil millers. The millers then convert their palm waste into densified material before selling it back to GGS for trading. Stephen Lim, head of business development at GGS, says: ‘We partner with palm oil millers because they are the ones with the feedstock. They buy the machinery and we off-take whatever they produce. We are different from other machinery firms and trading companies.’ Currently, Lim adds, 100% of

its palm pellets and briquettes are exported and sold overseas in places like China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan. GGS’s latest partnership was announced in October when it signed a memorandum of understanding with Chinalight (GuangZhou). Under the agreement, Chinalight will buy the palm pellets produced by GGS and sell them to local industries in China as well as for power generation. ‘We export these products to foreign markets because Malaysia’s domestic market has access to other, cheaper alternatives such as wood waste and woodchips. Palm kernel shells can also be bought at a low cost and burned instantly,’ Lim continues. GGS currently handles between 1,000 and 2,000 tonnes per month of densified palm biomass but, with a total 450 palm oil mills operating throughout the whole of Malaysia, hopes to raise this to 5,000 tonnes by the end of 2013 before doubling this figure next year. Made in China Despite being the world’s fastest growing biomass market, China is struggling to meet its target of 30GW of installed renewable capacity by 2020, with Simon Parker, CEO of China’s largest biomass power plant provider DP CleanTech, describing it as a ‘very substantial’ goal. ‘This was and remains a formidable challenge. Continued efforts to incentivise and encourage more efficient biomass power plants have seen more than 50 different projects receive permits in the last 12 months, but the fuel handling supply chain for agricultural by-products just isn’t sufficiently stable at this time,’ he adds. ‘Realistically, I think it’s probably too late to reach 30GW by 2020, but even if China was able to meet the halfway point, it will still be the world leader in biomass-to-power conversion

November/December 2013 • 43

Bioenergy asia

GS EPS’s 105MW biomass plant will be the largest in Asia when it comes online in 2015

and the efficient utilisation of agricultural waste.’ DP has built a number of biomass power plants around the world including China’s first 30MW plant, back in 2006 in Shanxian Province. Parker says the potential for such plants to thrive in the nation is vast given the enormous volumes of biomass available. ‘The government believes there is in excess of 800 million tonnes of biomass available annually for industry utilisation in one form or another. One of our power plants could take 200,000 to 300,000 tonnes per year so the potential is massive,’ he says. In an extension of its fuel expertise, DP signed a contract in September with Shougang Holding Tianguan Group to deliver the first biomassto-power project in China to use the by-product from second generation ethanol production. To be located in Nanyang city, Henan province, the 12MW plant — currently under construction — will use 250 tonnes a year of lignin. Parker explains: ‘The plant is being designed to take lignin residue and also raw biomass crops such as corn stover, so the economics of this power block won’t be totally dependent on ethanol production. The ability to mitigate the risk in this way is a very important factor in the economic model.’ Following the completion of this first-of-its-kind project, DP has expressed

interest in customising a range of power blocks for second generation ethanol plants handling a variety of different biomass feedstocks. Talking about domestic production of this renewable fuel in China, Parker comments: ‘There has been a lot of anticipation about second generation ethanol and some countries, such as the US, Denmark and Italy, have spent a lot of money developing the technology to develop the opportunity. Interestingly, the country that is most actively promoting and providing active support for the commercialisation of the technology and building of these large-scale facilities is China. It is ahead of the rest of the world and no other country is making the same scale of investment.’ Core products Vietnam, compared to other Asian nations, is not faring so well in the fight to rid its energy portfolio of fossil fuels. The government’s low FITs to encourage investment in the renewables sector is partly to blame. CHE’s Chong says: ‘Vietnam is a developing community and, for now, the FITs in the country are not high enough to attract the attention of potential investors. The government has been putting in efforts to improve the FITs, which are being raised by about 5% each year.’

44 • November/December 2013

Nevertheless, in October CHE Group entered into a joint venture collaboration with Hau Giang Power Plant Joint Stocks Company from Vietnam to roll out 20 biomass power plants across the south western part of the country. This vast project, estimated to cost MYR1.97 billion and take five years to come to fruition, includes the construction of 20 units of 10MW rice husk power plants in six provinces: Dong Phap, Hau Giang, An Giang, Can Tho, Kiew Giang and Soe Trang. The first plant will be built in Hau Giang, where a total of four plants will eventually be installed there. Chong explains: ‘The development will take place over four phases. In the first phase we will deliver one unit, which will be complete in two years. Running in parallel with this will be the construction of three more units in phase two, followed by six units in the third phase. In the final phase we will build 10 units.’ All 20 plants will use rice husks, an abundant feedstock in Vietnam. According to Chong, in the south western part of Vietnam alone the annual availability of rice husks is ‘more than sufficient to generate 200MW’. ‘We will start off building plants in these six provinces and more will come in the future,’ he says. ‘We are also looking to expand into countries like Thailand, Cambodia and Myanmar.’ But with such low FITs, in addition to power purchase rates, the joint venture will not only rely on these sources of income to ensure profitability. Chong explains: ‘Investors are not keen to invest in rice husk power plants in Vietnam because of the low FIT compared to countries like Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines. As a consequence the local environment has become more polluted and rice husks are currently being disposed of in environmentally

unfriendly ways such as open burning in fields.’ To combat this problem CHE, which is also the EPC contractor for the project, along with its technology partners Torftech UK and ERK Eckrohrkessel, designed a system that not only generates electricity from rice husks, but also has the ability to produce non-hazardous, high quality ash. This ash can be used as a cement substitute for enhancing the strength of concrete. ‘People are sceptical about investing in Vietnam’s biomass power generation market; the low FITs mean they cannot depend solely on the revenue earned from selling electricity to the grid. For that reason, innovative solutions that add value to the investment are a must. For us, the core product is the valuable premium ash while the energy supply is most probably a by-product at this point in time,’ Chong highlights. Significant breakthroughs Asia is churning out many new technologies that have the potential to change the region’s biomass-to-power market for the better. The extensive volume of rice husk feedstock in Vietnam and the Philippines, for example, could soon be better utilised with equipment developed by CHE and its partners. Producing a premium ash product that can be sold to other markets generates additional revenue for the investor while, just as importantly, lowering pollution currently created from incinerating the biomass. And in China, DP CleanTech’s vision to tap into the bioliquids sector will soon enter realisation when it opens, what it believes will be, the world’s first biomass-to-power plant using by-products from second generation ethanol production. These innovative solutions are all helping to unveil new pathways that all lead towards lower fossil fuel consumption and emissions. l

Bioenergy Insight

bio-ccs Bioenergy As the urgent necessity of negative emissions becomes increasingly clear, the only large-scale delivering technology is Bio-CCS

Going carbon negative


n its newly released Fifth Assessment Report1, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) emphasised the need to develop solutions that can help remove CO2 from the atmosphere in the future. Similar warnings have already come from the United National Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and climate scientists. For the first time in history this year, atmospheric CO2 levels reached 400 parts per million (ppm). If those levels are to stabilise, global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions will have to fall to near zero or even become negative in the second half of the century. It is clear that the world will need massive investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy. A significant share of the latter will have to be made up by sustainable use of biomass, which takes up CO2 from the atmosphere when it grows. However, the magnitude of climate challenge and the current on-going fossil fuel lock-in shows a need for a larger portfolio of solutions, including carbon-negative ones. Those can, in the mediumterm, help offset emissions from sectors where cuts are difficult or expensive to reach, and in the longterm bring overall emissions below zero to help offset our historical excess. Since the IPCC’s last report in 2007, Bellona Europa has been working on a carbon negative solution known as Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (Bio-CCS). Bio-CCS uses biomass in power and industrial plants fitted with CCS, captures the CO2 taken up in the biomass and stores it

Bioenergy Insight

permanently and safely. As a result, processes are developed in which more CO2 is extracted from the atmosphere over time than emitted to it. As new biomass is grown to replace and absorb the same amount of CO2 resulting from its combustion, emissions from sustainably produced and processed biomass are recognised as near-neutral over time. Capturing and storing this CO2 therefore leads to carbon-negative value chains. A 2011 International Energy Agency Greenhouse Gas programme (IEA GHG) study found that, globally, Bio-CCS has the potential to remove around 10 billion tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere every year by 20502. This is the equivalent of about a third of all energy-related CO2 emissions. This figure does not fully take into account factors such as logistics and geography, yet it makes clear Bio-CCS can play a crucial role in climate abatement. The challenges for BioCCS range from technical to political. As conventional CCS moves ahead with commercialscale operations, Bio-CCS will benefit from this existing experience. The same is true for advanced biomass conversion methods for heat and power, fuels and other products, and hopefully for the development of novel biomass feedstock such as algae. The main obstacle for large-scale Bio-CCS deployment is not the technology, but the limited supply of sustainable biomass. If sustainable supply can be increased, the potential for negative emissions can be multiplied. Generally speaking, there are three routes for large-scale Bio-

CCS: in power plants, in energyintensive industries where biomass can replace fossil fuels and in biofuel production. Bio-CCS in (co-)firing at power plants Co-firing technology is rapidly advancing and the main techniques can be divided into ‘direct’ and ‘indirect’. During direct co-firing, biomass is blended with coal and either injected into the boiler or fed via a dedicated biomass burner. The main paths are pulverised coal combustion (PCC) and fluidised bed combustion (FBC). With PCC grounded biomass is blended with pulverised coal and combusted in existing coal burners. It incurs low capital costs, but also limits the amount of biomass to only a few percentages of thermal input. FBC, on the other hand, allows ratios of biomass between 20 and 90%. It is already a common and economical coal power plant design, therefore offering both a high degree of fuel flexibility and high boiler efficiencies with lower grade fuels. This enables a rapid and cheap switch to biomass co-firing. Indirect co-firing first converts biomass into a combustible gas via fluidised bed gasifiers, before injecting it into a boiler. Such precombustion gasification (IGCC) is the most straightforward co-firing option as it poses no major technological or operational hurdles over coal gasification. This translates to flexibility and potentially 100% biomass firing. Co-firing can therefore be implemented at low technological and

commercial risk and an existing IGCC plant with CCS is therefore an ideal candidate for Bio-CCS. The main challenges of co-firing are related to the properties of the different types of fuel, in particular their calorific value, moisture content, ash production and combustion characteristics. Levels of chlorine and alkaline salts, such as potassium, could interfere with normal plant operation and cause corrosion. Plant modifications are therefore usually required for co-firing, unless operating a dedicated biomass plant. Such 100% biomass combustion does occur in smaller, modified pulverised coal boilers, usually based on FBS technology. It could also be facilitated in existing, medium-sized combined heat and power (CHP) plants fired with coal or lignite. Despite the need for modifications, co-firing with CCS is one of the most efficient routes to significant emission reductions. If a coal-fired plant captures and stores 90% of its CO2 emissions, 10% is still emitted into the atmosphere. If this plant co-fires just 10% biomass, these emissions will therefore be neutralised and any higher percentage of (sustainable) biomass will yield negative emissions. The emission benefits of this would be doubled with Bio-CCS. Biomass (co-)firing potential is great in certain countries in the EU, such as Romania, where biomass is already extensively used in residential stoves. A recent CCS roadmap published by Bellona in 20123 showed that transferring this use to more efficient power plants with Bio-CCS could see

November/December 2013 • 45

Bioenergy bio-ccs Romania make use of both its vast biomass and its CO2 storage capacity, to become a regional or even world leader on carbon negative emissions. Bio-CCS in industrial applications Replacing fossil fuels with biomass in industry has a variety of potential applications, notably in the refining and chemicals industries as synthesis gas from gasification or pyrolysis oil, or via injection in blast furnace steel and iron-making. In the pulp and paper industry the majority of emissions already originate from biogenic sources, as most of the on-site processes utilise biomass as raw material. Emissions from these plants are often scattered among different stacks with CCS application to existing installations a challenge. But as recovery boilers age, these could be replaced with more feasible CCS options. There is a high potential for process integration in these industries, which could reduce the energy penalty incurred with CCS and pave the way for e.g. carbonnegative building materials. Bio-CCS in biofuel production Biofuel production in combination with CCS is a relatively new area of research, but has quickly gained global interest. This is largely due to its potential to revolutionise transport emissions, particularly in sectors which with few or no green alternatives, such as aviation. The economical carbonnegative potential of biofuels is expected to be the highest of all bioenergy areas, with high purity CO2 by-product streams. Pure streams negate the need for additional expensive separation equipment, with only driers and compression units necessary to prepare the CO2 for transport to a storage site. There are several suitable routes for CCS in combination with conversion of biomass

into energy products or chemicals. Conventional biofuels from organic raw materials and sugar/starch crops currently represent the largest capacity, with thermochemical production routes being scaled-up. For ethanol production sugars from conventional feedstock such as sugarcane, beet and corn starch, are fermented to produce ethanol and CO2. The near pure CO2 stream is separated via gas liquid separation, while the remaining CO2 is separated from the ethanol/water mixture via distillation. A typical ethanol plant in the US produces about 200 million litres per year, which corresponds to a pure and easily captured CO2 stream of 140,000 tonnes. During thermochemical production of biofuels, nonedible feedstock are dried and ground to subsequently be gasified with oxygen and/ or steam. The resulting gas is then cleaned and processed to form a synthesis gas. This gas is used in commercially available processes to form fuels and chemicals, including hydrogen (further synthesised into ammonia and urea), substitute natural gas (SNG), diesel, petrol, kerosene (jet fuel), methanol synthesis, the fuel additive DME, plastics, formaldehyde and acetic acid. The CO2 capture technology is similar to pre-combustion CO2 capture in IGCC power plants and is usually based on the use of physical absorption in solvents. Outlook and opportunities The common denominator for all Bio-CCS opportunities is the biogenic feedstock. Failing to ensure its sustainability would entirely undermine the carbon-negative (or even carbon reduction) potential of Bio-CCS. Regarding conventional biofuels and biomass, direct and indirect land use change must be taken into account comprehensively and consistently. At the same

46 â&#x20AC;˘ November/December 2013

time, advanced biofuels need more attention and resources as they can deliver far greater GHG benefits once brought up to scale. Second and third generation biofuels pose far less risks to existing ecological and social environments in addition to holding far greater potential for integrated resource management. Bellona has initiated two such advanced biofuels facilities, the Sahara Forest Project4 and Ocean Forest5. These and other projects will improve the technology pathways of advanced biofuels, enhance the performance and reliability of conversion processes and ultimately move toward economic viability for Bio-CCS. Complementary R&D activities should focus on agricultural production and infrastructure, how sustainable biofuels can provide economic benefits to developing countries and how to improve data accuracy on sustainability measures. Most importantly, pilot and demonstration projects need to be deployed. These are crucial to developing supply chain concepts, assess feedstock characteristic and understand all the involved costs. Realistic investment support, such as sub-targets for advanced biofuels and taxation incentives, need to be ensured. Production support and feed-in tariffs would help improve the business case for investors building the first wave of commercial-scale projects. Finally, emission trading schemes or other forms of CO2 pricing need to provide some form of reward not only to reductions, but also negative emissions. EU policy in this area, for both CCS and bioenergy, is slowly improving. Although still largely addressed separately, both areas are becoming more robust and comprehensive. The bioenergy sustainability debate has lasted years and is beginning to show results, with the European Parliament

passing biofuels sustainability criteria and the European Commission set to propose similar measures for solid and gaseous biomass. Meanwhile CCS policy is being redressed with both the Commission and Parliament seeking to improve funding and liability mechanisms. The upcoming EU 2030 Framework for Climate and Energy Policies holds potential for a more holistic policy, which could benefit Bio-CCS, and the upcoming Horizon 2020-programme currently being negotiated seems likely, at the time of writing, to include support for pilot-scale projects to demonstrate Bio-CCS in Europe. Bio-CCS Joint Taskforce Bellona, a steering committee member of the European Biofuels Technology Platform (EBTP6) and the Zero Emissions Platform (ZEP7), initiated a joint taskforce8 on Bio-CCS, the aim of which is to guide and accelerate work on Bio-CCS and ensure its place within EU policy and R&D priorities. Its first report was launched during the EUâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Sustainable Energy Week 20129, and much of the information in this article is based on that report. Bellona Europa cochairs the taskforce. l


1 ar5/#.Ul6231Cnp28 2 blog/global-energy-assessmentis-ccs-a-choice-or-a-must/ 3 our-future-is-carbon-negative-accs-roadmap-for-romania.html 4 subjects/sahara-forest-project 5 articles_2013/1377679637.08 6 7 http://www. 8 http://www.biofuelstp. eu/bio-ccs-jtf.html 9 articles_2012/1340380044.27

For more information:

This article was written by Jonas Helseth, director of Bellona Europa,

Bioenergy Insight

trade Bioenergy After it recently signed an agreement with Viridis Energy to market its wood pellets, trading house Ekman reveals what pellet producers should look for when choosing an agent

The biomass trading house


urope will need to continue to grow its wood pellet imports over the coming years. Both the industrial and residential markets will likely double in size in the next 10 years and, in addition to this, the markets in Asia are finally waking up and will also demand large volumes over the next decade. Sourcing sustainable biomass for this demand will be a huge challenge for the industry and significant capital will need to be invested, not only in pellet production capacity but also in logistics, storage and product handling. Large biomass traders with healthy balance sheets can, and will, play an important role in making this happen. The wood pellet supply chain is still young and needs some firming up in order to sustain the expected growth. In particular, trading houses will provide the credibility that is so desperately needed by the financing community, and will make the necessary investments in storage and

product handling. Working with an experienced trading house is a good insurance policy and a catalyst for increasing revenue. Every new wood pellet plant starts with a business plan and carefully planned sales and marketing ideas, usually long off-take contracts with large end-users. History has shown that these business plans often need drastic changes when an intended trade flow disappears or becomes uneconomical. The most important role of a trading house is to make sure the product is always sold and moved out. It must be able to react instantly to any change in the market or at the mill. A trading house must also ensure the mill always gets the best possible price available in the market. This involves having a long list of customers and knowing how to match a specific quality of pellets with the requirements of the customers. There is little point in selling a residential quality pellet to a coal station that could just as well burn a low quality

A trading house matches a specific quality of pellets with the requirements of its customers

Bioenergy Insight

product. Many producers supplying to the power sector can produce a pellet that is suitable for the residential market and will make more money supplying that market. The trading house provides product segmentation so the producer gets the best possible price for his product. Logistics and finance

The key to getting the best possible ex-mill price is to identify the most effective logistics chain. Transportation and handling is often a key part of the delivered price and there are large savings to be made. The supply chain involves sea transportation, trucking, keeping stock and, occasionally, sieving and bagging the product. Financing part of the supply chain is another important element that needs to be taken care of. A biomass trader with a healthy balance sheet improves the biomass supply chain by being able to take on deals which would otherwise have

been difficult for producers and end-users to do. The trading of residential quality wood pellets is a good example of this. The consumer market is a one-to-many business where the challenge of distributing large shipments to thousands of end-users can be daunting. Quality Ekman & Co. is a sales and marketing company active in the global forest products industry. It owns more than 4.5 million tonnes a year of biomass, pulp, paper and recovered materials. Ekmanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s wood pellet business consists of sales and marketing agencies with Vyborg Forestry Development in Russia and Canadaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Viridis Energy. Quality is naturally as important in the residential market as it is in the industrial market, if not more. One issue that has financial implications to traders is fines. When the product is delivered out to the customer, either in small bags or in bulk, the pellets need to contain only a small amount of fines. Therefore the pellets are sieved carefully before they are sent out. The fines that are sieved out can represent an economic burden if not handled correctly. While the fines usually can be sold to heat plants, the sales price is much lower than the price of the pellets. In order to reduce these costs for fines, Ekman repelletises them as, in the past, it has received cargos

November/December 2013 â&#x20AC;˘ 47

Bioenergy trade of premium quality pellets that have contained as much as 15% fines. This requires investments in equipment and manpower to operate pellet machines, but the company says has proven worthwhile in order to improve economics. Ekman purchases vessel loads ranging from 3,000 to 30,000 tonnes, brings them to warehouses located close to market, sieves and bags the pellets, and sells them under own brand names to retailers and directly to consumers. For example, in Denmark Ekman imports over 150,000 tonnes annually of premium grade pellets from Europe and North America. Recently, it discharged a vessel carrying more than 30,000 tonnes of pellets to three smaller vessels and over 1,300 truckloads.

This is the largest single cargo of wood pellets to have ever entered Denmark and the product will be distributed all over the country.

this industry and something all participants need to handle. An area closely linked to subsidy is sustainability. In the 27 EU countries there are 27 different sets of sustainability demands and individual end-users have their own requirements. Sustainability rules have a tendency to change at times, and there is currently a lot of movement in this area. This is creating uncertainty across the biomass supply chain, leaving users and producers with little certainty as to what the future holds. The political risk is a fundamental obstacle to trade and to attracting new capital for investment. For this reason Ekman is a strong advocator for uniform EUwide sustainability standards. Meanwhile, pellet producers

Policy The industrial wood pellet market is driven by the various legislations on tax and subsidies across Europe. When the rules for these schemes change (and this happens with some frequency), the rules of engagement change. For example, the trade flows into Poland have collapsed in the past and there is now a surge in demand, as well as potential future demand from the UK. While sudden changes like this are not desirable when it comes to growing investor comfort, it is part of life in

need an ability to quickly adapt their sales and distribution plans in case another change occurs. Good trading houses provide this flexibility and are equipped to quickly change product flows in case of need. A successful trading house does not only know about know who to sell to and what the right price is, but how to add value to the supply chain in many different ways. Ekman has different levels of interaction with producers depending on what valueadded services are needed, ranging from exclusive global sales agencies to the regular spot trade. l For more information:

This article was written by Johan Granath, senior VP of bioenergy at Ekman & Co,

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Bioenergy Insight

biomass storage Bioenergy How hot dip galvanizing is providing long-term protection against rust and corrosion

Galvanizing steel


he biomass sector continues to boom across the UK, with developers putting forward proposals to create new facilities up and down the country. As with any construction project though, it is crucial the infrastructure used to store both the inputs and outputs involved in the biomass process is robust enough to withstand a particularly harsh and corrosive environment. With the government committed to its target of producing 15% of the UK’s energy from renewable sources by 2020, helping it to become less reliant on imported fossil fuels, along with its pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% by 2050, it is understandable why the demand for biomass continues to rapidly grow. Organisations including Drax, E.ON and Future Biogas are among those either currently operating a biomass power plant, or have submitted a bid to create one of 40 plus proposed facilities across the country. In the not too distant future, it is expected

the UK’s expanding biomass market will require upwards of 90 million tonnes each year of wood alone. Biomass storage plants come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from purpose-built structures or bespoke prefabricated facilities, through to adapted units such as feed silos or shipping containers. While it is crucial the structural metalwork used to construct these storage facilities is robust and durable, it is just as important all the external steel fixtures and fittings (including access ladders and platforms, pipes and tubing, ramps and conveyor systems) are all protected against rust and corrosion. With 4% of the world’s gross domestic product estimated to be lost every year to corrosion, and the Galvanizers Association estimating that this happens to 1 tonne of steel every 90 seconds, the implications to both the environment and the economy are significant. There is, therefore, no doubt that the appropriate protection of steel from the elements is essential.

Biomass storage silos can benefit from a galvanized steel coating

Bioenergy Insight

Hot dip galvanizing

Protection Hot dip galvanizing is a oneoff process that can protect steel in the long-term. Galvanizing as a process has seen something of a resurgence in recent decades, due in no small part to its relatively low environmental burden and the improved economies of scale the process provides. A single treatment will provide a finish which can protect steel for up to 60 years, or even more in the right conditions (and that is with no maintenance). In the most hostile environment, the protection can last two or three decades. As a result, the whole life cost of products protected by the hot dip galvanizing process can be reduced as repeated on-site maintenance or replacement is eliminated. Hot dipping is essentially the process of coating clean steel with a layer of molten zinc to protect the item from corrosion and provide a longlasting, durable covering. The creation of a metallurgical reaction forms a series of

zinc alloy layers with the iron in the steel, resulting in a coating more robust than others, such as powder coating, painting or thermal spray zinc, which only bond chemically or mechanically. The process also has the added advantage of fully coating the steel, inside and out. The corrosion protection it provides enables the benefits of steel, including its formability and relatively light weight, to be fully realised. It can be pre-engineered, is easy to modify or reshape, remains stable at all times and can be recycled constantly without significant deterioration. The process The galvanizing process can be split into two core areas: cleaning and galvanizing. The former chemically washes the steel so it can react with the molten zinc, and the latter is the immersion of prepared metalwork into the zinc bath. Cleaning the steel involves the complete removal of all grease, scale and dirt and

November/December 2013 • 49

Bioenergy biomass storage slows down to prevent the formation of an overly thick protective layer. Steel will usually be dipped for four to five minutes and, when removed, a layer of pure molten zinc will be taken out on top of the alloy. Coating thicknesses are a function of the thickness of the steel itself, its reactivity and process methodology. Centrifuge galvanizing usually produces a thinner finish because the parts are dipped in the molten zinc within a perforated basket and, once the coating has formed, is spun at high speed to remove all surplus zinc and create a clean, smooth profile. Surface roughening allows a thicker coating to be achieved if required and can be affected by grit-blasting the steel before immersion to increase its surface area in contact with the molten zinc. If thicker coatings are specified, these may be E.ON could benefit from rustproofing its steelwork

this can be achieved using a variety of techniques. Commonly, the steel product is fully dipped into a chemical degreaser then rinsed thoroughly in cold water before being dipped again in hydrochloric acid. Heavy greases, particularly tough welding slag and paint, may not be removed so should be cleaned off before being sent to the galvanizer. After the acid stage, the product is rinsed in water and then usually dipped in a flux solution typically made up from zinc ammonium chloride and operated in a temperature range between 55˚C and 80˚C. This final stage removes the last traces of oxide from the surface and coats the product with a thin film of flux. After the steel has dried, it is dipped in molten zinc at around 450˚C, at which temperature the galvanizing

Wedge has provided its steel galvanizing services at Drax’s power plant in Yorkshire

reactions take place. Finally, the work may be immersed in water or aired to cool it. When the steel is dipped into the molten zinc, a series of zinc-iron alloy layers are formed. The main thickness of the coating is created at this time, after which the metallurgical reaction

50 • November/December 2013

achieved by longer process times, or by specifying the use of more reactive steel. Certain aspects of design can influence the effectiveness of the process. Guidance on design detail is available from the Galvanizers Association or from the individual galvanizer, and does not normally cause any

complexity or significant extra cost in fabrication. Proving popular Wedge Group Galvanizing, UK’s largest hot dip galvanizing organisation, has seen demand for its services across the biomass market grow over the past few years. With increased recognition of the long-term effects of regular energy sources, and with steel fabricators realising the benefits of galvanizing steel, not only to provide protection against rust and corrosion but to ensure the longevity of the structure, the company anticipates increased demand for its services across the industry in the near future. Recent projects have included the processing of more than 500 tonnes of structural steelwork, including 18m long beams, used to create a biomass fuel unloading and storage unit at the Drax coal-fired power station in Selby, North Yorkshire. The metalwork was used in part to create two concrete and galvanized steel silos to stockpile biomass material including timber, agricultural waste, recycled paper and wood, with the facility’s designers asking for galvanized steelwork to ensure maximum anti-rust protection. Wedge’s Glasgow-based plant has also processed around 270 tonnes of structural steelwork used to build Avondale Environmental’s new £20 million (€23.4 million) waste treatment centre on the outskirts of Falkirk. With the capacity to process around 200,000 tonnes of waste every year, the mechanical biological treatment plant will divert roughly 60% of this waste from landfill through either recycling or developing fuels for energy production. l

For more information:

This article was written by Bob Duxbury, technical director at Wedge Group Galvanizing, +44 (0) 1902 630 311,

Bioenergy Insight

biomass storage Bioenergy A new cube-shaped bin is giving biomass conveyors a run for their money

Fresh out of the box


iomass handling equipment is expensive and time-consuming to install and costly to maintain. It is, however, a vital aspect of any biomass energy project. While building biomass power plants in the location where the bulk of the feedstock is generated appears to be a suitable solution, in practice this is not always possible. In Canada, for example, pellet production continues to grow but low domestic consumption means manufacturers are looking across the water to Europe, where the market is flourishing. In order to better serve the bulk handling industry, Arrows Up has developed the patentpending Jumbo Bin – a portable container ideal for storing and transporting wood pellets. This new solution is costcompetitive with hopper trucks and conveyors, and eliminates the need for additional port infrastructure, saving companies capital investment. This unique product has the potential to change the way granular material is handled,’ says Arrows Up President John Allegretti. ‘Our system is

A 35-40° discharge funnel works best for wood pellets

eternally flexible and can load a ship anywhere in the world with just a crane, eliminating capital outlay for land and equipment such as conveyors.’ In addition to wood pellets, Arrows Up’s Jumbo Bins can also accommodate other granular bulk commodities such as grain, cocoa beans, clay and sand. The transportation cycle of the Jumbo Bin includes: 1. Ship the bins from factory to customer Arrows Up can produce one bin every two to four hours depending on the requirements of the customer, with orders averaging between 2,000 and 6,000 bins in total. This

The Jumbo Bin and lifting platform from Arrows Up

Bioenergy Insight

would take between three and 14 months, respectively. Arrows Up currently operates one production factory just outside of Chicago, US and is looking to open a second in Brazil in the future. 2. Bins are sent for filling The bins are top loaded, either at the production mill or plant, or can be loaded at the port prior to despatch. Around 15,000lbs of wood pellets can be stored in one bin, which measures 64 sq ft. The bin lid, a relatively new addition to the container, can be included if required. ‘Some pellet producers will want to store their pellets outside so we designed an entirely enclosed roof with a 2x4ft hatch,’ explains Allegretti. ‘Workers can walk on the roof and is slip resistant for added safety.’ The lid also ensures the bin is watertight before it is transported to the port. 3. Filled bins arrive at the port and are stored Three bins can be stacked on top of each other when filled and this can increase to ‘as high as safe’ when empty. They can be stored outside when not in use and Arrows Up says they have at least a 10 year warranty and a lifetime guarantee.

4. The vessel is loaded with pellets Arrows Up has developed a lifting platform to move and discharge the bins onto ships. The size of the platform depends on the capacity of the ship crane, and platforms can be built to handle one to four bins. The crane operator discharges the bins using a remote control. Allegretti explains: ‘All that is needed is a ship with a crane, and there are a lot of ships already designed to move granular materials. These cranes can load the wood pellets off a regular dock without relying on any ground structure or support system. Additionally, the lifting platform can be built to be lifted by traditional container cranes as well.’ The bins are discharged at the bottom, with an angle of the funnel modified depending on the commodity. For wood pellets this is between 35° and 40°. ‘The reason for this specific angle is speed of discharge and this really matters to companies. Our Jumbo Bin can load around 100% faster than a conveyor; a conveyor operating at high speed to load up to 500 tonnes of pellets an hour,’ Allegretti says. ‘We can load 1,000 tonnes per hour.’ Transporting pellets in a Jumbo Bin will also reduce the creation of fines, which can be as much as 4 to 8% when using conveyors due to the high drop distance. 5. Empty bins are returned for filling and the cycle continues The bins can be transported on flatbed trucks, by rail or by barge. l For more information:

November/December 2013 • 51

Bioenergy biogas storage A Malaysian company is adding value to its waste POME with the construction of an anaerobic digestion plant complete with a glass-fused-to-steel tank

Pane-less biogas production


alm oil mills treat the effluent discharged from plants which manufacture palm oil — an important export for Malaysia and Indonesia — in open lagoons. In recent years palm oil consumers have demanded environmental conservation and the Malaysian government has strengthened its water quality regulations for palm oil effluent, resulting in mills needing to take prompt measures. BBC Biogas, the owner and operator of a new palm oil mill in Bintulu, Malaysia and a subsidiary of BBC Holdings, chose Japanese renewable energy company Kubota Corporation to design and build its anaerobic membrane bioreactor system, which integrates two processes to extract biogas from palm oil mill effluent (POME) and treat wastewater to comply with the strict requirements of the Department of Environment and Sarawak Natural Resources and Environment Board. The biogas plant has been built alongside the new palm oil mill and is the first in the world to adopt membrane technology in palm oil milling. This technology is capable of producing high volumes of biogas from empty fruit branches for use as renewable energy and is efficient in the treatment of POME.

The plant can handle over 900 tonnes per day of POME

single membrane roof is the first to be designed and constructed by Biodome Asia. It helps reduce project costs, minimises carbon footprints and eliminates the need to install a fixed steel roof. The construction of an integrated system is faster than adding a ground mounted Biodome gas holder to an AD plant, resulting in less time spent on site and thus further reducing operational costs.

The project

The benefits

The RM13 million (€3 million) anaerobic digestion plant was recently completed by Biodome Asia, part of Kirk Group, and comprises a 10,000m3 digester tank — the largest ever built by Kirk to date. In addition to the 10,000m3 glass-fused-to-steel (GFS) digester tank, complete with a Biodome double membrane gas holder roof, Biodome Asia also designed and built a smaller 1,800m3 digester tank complete with single membrane roof.

52 • November/December 2013

The plant is able to handle 936 tonnes a day of POME. The biogas produced will be used to operate a brick factory, to be built by BBC Holdings next to the plant, making the factory self-sufficient. Both Biodome roofs ensure the biogas produced during the anaerobic digestion process is captured and held there until ready to be released as renewable energy, reducing the volume of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. Mounted on top of the smaller digester tank, the

The GFS tanks are increasing in popularity in the Malaysian region due to their corrosion resistant properties. The glass coating prevents steel corrosion caused by effluent and compounds in the biogas, which usually would weaken the structure and result in maintenance and replacement requirements after only a few years. Furthermore, Kirk’s digester tanks are bolted together, eliminating the need for welding and increasing safety on-site during construction

Bioenergy Insight

biogas storage Bioenergy

Kirk has built a 10,000m3 biogas digester tank in Malaysia

by reducing the risk of explosion. A bolted tank can be built at ground level, with site labour working in safer conditions and construction to be completed in a shorter time scale. ‘The implementation of the project is testament to the recent progress made by both Biodome Asia and the local market in adopting the aboveground digester tanks complete with methane capture,’ comments Matthew Dickinson, operations director at Biodome Asia. ‘Working closely with Kubota we have been able to install our largest combined GFS tank and double membrane gas holder solution in our history.’ Kirk says its GFS technology is the only tank finish where two materials are fused together, creating strong yet flexible steel combined with the corrosion resistance of glass. The high temperature fusion of glass to steel fired at 850°C results in an inert, durable finish. Applied to both the interior and exterior, the technology is able to

Bioenergy Insight

The plant features a glass-fused-to-steel tank

withstand the rigours of the construction site and provide many years of trouble-free service in harsh environments. The Biodome double membrane gas holder can be used in the wastewater, agricultural and municipal biogas markets throughout the world. The state-ofthe-art design utilises high

strength membrane, making it suitable for a range of working gas pressures, storage volumes and gas production rates, accommodating the requirements of any sewerage, wastewater treatment, industrial effluent and biogas plant. It can be supplied as an independent free-standing

unit or installed to provide biogas storage mounted to the top of a steel or concrete AD tank. The high strength of the membrane, together with its design and manufacturing facilities, allows Kirk to design and build the Biodome gas holder in standard sizes up to 20,000m³. Following the completion of the Bintulu AD plant, Biodome Asia has been awarded a further five biogas projects with Kubota Corporation, this time in Indonesia. The efforts in place to treat the palm oil effluents from the mill will help safeguard the quality of Sarawak’s river water by discharging higher standard effluent; the lower biological oxygen demand effluent discharged will reduce the stress of the natural water body. The systems in place provided by Biodome Asia and Kubota are a positive step towards widening the environmental friendly alternative uses of palm oil effluent to produce renewable energy. l

November/December 2013 • 53

Bioenergy biochemicals How might the recently introduced Qualifying Renewable Chemical Production Tax Credit Act benefit biochemical producers and the US economy as a whole?

Cashing in on chemicals


ndustrial biotechnology companies have made rapid progress in commercialising new applications to convert biomass and other renewable feedstocks to target chemicals. Driven first by unstable oil prices and growing consumer demand for renewable products over the past decade, their efforts received another boost from the recent boom in US natural gas production. According to global management and strategy consulting firm Booz & Company, low-cost natural gas resources are rapidly displacing the use of petroleum naphtha in production of ethylene, but leaving a shortage in butadiene and benzene, thus creating a market opportunity for biomass-based chemicals. The abundance of US natural gas and resulting lower energy prices create another incentive for companies to commercialise renewable chemicals. Much of the R&D of new renewable chemical technology has been done in the US, guided by a federal research roadmap aimed at creating new markets for US agriculture. Bobby Bringi, CEO of MBI, a Michigan state university affiliated not-for-profit company that collaborates with universities and companies to accelerate biobased technologies to market, believes there are additional benefits to the technology. ‘Such initiatives ultimately help the agricultural, forestry, chemicals and transportation

Novozymes opened its $200m plant in Nebraska last year

sectors, creating new jobs while enhancing environmental benefits,’ he says. New legislation Tightness in capital markets and lending has been a major challenge for companies commercialising renewable chemical technology — a common problem for many industries. But renewable chemical companies face an additional hurdle in that they must compete for capital investment with companies from other industries that can add an existing tax credit to their balance sheets. In a recent letter to the government, a group of renewable chemical companies wrote: ‘Production tax credits are currently offered to incumbent fossil energy industries and other US energy sectors. It will be increasingly difficult for our companies to develop projects in the US as other nations offer more attractive investment incentives.’ The recent introduction

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of the Qualifying Renewable Chemical Production Tax Credit Act of 2013 could however help level the playing field. Senator Debbie Stabenow introduced the legislation in the US Senate in July, and Reps. Bill Pascrell, Steve Stockman, Allyson Schwartz, Linda Sanchez and Richard Neal co-sponsored bi-partisan companion legislation in the US House of Representatives in early September. These lawmakers represent states and districts where companies have worked to research and develop the technology, and they want to see the companies commercialise the technology at home. As she introduced the legislation in July, Stabenow stated: ‘When we grow things and make things here, we create jobs. These tax cuts for our domestic bio-based manufacturing companies will help spur innovation, grow the economy and create jobs across the country.’ Other countries meanwhile are formulating policies to assist companies in raising

the capital and developing the biomass supply chains necessary to deploy renewable chemical technology. This puts pressure on the US government to compete within the expanding world market for renewable chemicals. According to a recent estimate by Markets and Markets, the global renewable chemical market is valued at $57 billion (€41.4 billion). ‘By levelling the playing field for the biochemical sector, we are strengthening America’s role as the leader in developing this groundbreaking industry,’ Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. said about the House measure. ‘Creating good jobs right here is the best way to bolster our economy, and this legislation does just that while reducing our reliance on foreign oil and ensuring a more sustainable future.’ Where will companies choose to commercialise? President and CEO of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) Jim Greenwood, says the US is ‘already beginning to see renewable chemical companies put homegrown technologies to work to create rural jobs and spur economic growth’, but the chemical industry is global, and companies will make choices on where to build commercial facilities based on end markets, partnerships and other opportunities. Gevo recently cut the ribbon on a renewable chemical demonstration plant in Silsbee, Texas, working under a joint development agreement

Bioenergy Insight

biochemicals Bioenergy with drinks brand Coca-Cola to deliver new production technology for renewable paraxylene, a key building block for polyethylene terephthalate (PET). More than half of the world’s PET production is currently used for synthetic fabrics, with plastic drinking bottle production accounting for around 30% of global demand. Toray Industries provided funding assistance for construction of the plant and will purchase the paraxylene from Gevo to produce the PET. ‘We believe we have a viable route to fullyrenewable, non-petroleum derived PET,’ said Patrick Gruber, Gevo’s CEO, during the ribbon cutting ceremony. Brett Lund, chief licensing officer of Gevo, added: ‘Providing renewable chemical producers access to tax credits available to other renewable energy industries will have a positive effect on our economy and our environment.’ In May 2012, Novozymes opened a $200 million facility in Blair, Nebraska to supply enzymes to the US biofuel industry. At the introduction of the tax credit legislation, Adam Monroe, Novozymes Americas president, commented: ‘We need a strong rural economy and companies who make cuttingedge specialty chemicals are growing it. Their work requires innovation, investment in new plants and rural communities.’ Novozymes, an international company, is also partnering with Beta Renewables and collaborating with Raízen on cellulosic biofuel production facilities in Italy and Brazil, respectively. It is also currently collaborating with Cargill and BASF on a pilot project to commercialise bio-based 3-hydroxypropionic acid, which can be dehydrated to form acrylic acid, which is a precursor to a number of common polymers, but the first envisioned use is in absorbents. Royal DSM, in addition,

Bioenergy Insight

plans to use bio-based 1,4-butanediol (BDO) to produce polybutylene terephthalate (PBT), one of the building blocks in its Arnitel thermoplastic copolyesters, as soon as supplies are readily available. Replacing petroleum-based PBT will increase the bio-based content of Arnitel by up to 73%, ideal for products such as food packaging and outdoor apparel. Those supplies will come from producers licensing technology from Genomatica, a biotechnology company in San Diego. BASF has licensed Genomatica’s patented BDO production process and plans to build a world-scale production facility, aiming to begin production for sampling and trials before the end of 2013. BASF currently produces fossil-based BDO and BDO-equivalents at its sites in Germany, the US, Japan, Malaysia and China, with an annual combined capacity of 535,000 tonnes. It has also recently announced the intention of building a BDO complex in China with a capacity of 100,000 tonnes a year. Some of the raw materials for BDO production are the butane,

butadiene and propylene that are predicted to be in short supply as natural gas displaces naphtha. E. William Radany, president and CEO of Verdezyne, a biotech company based in San Diego, also voiced support for the introduction of the renewable chemical production tax credit: ‘We have always emphasised the aspects of our growing industry that make it so exciting — the positive impact we can have on the environment as well as our national economy.’ Verdezyne has operated a pilot plant in California since November 2011, producing bio-based adipic acid which is one of two components used to manufacture ‘green’ nylon 6,6 and thermoplastic polyurethane resins. Production of engineered plastics, carpets, clothing and other assorted textiles could translate to an adipic acid market of more than $6 billion globally. As it looks to scale up the technology to commercial production, Verdezyne is currently collaborating with Malaysian Biotechnology and looking at Malaysia as the destination for its first fullscale biochemical production facility. Verdezyne was

awarded BioNexus status by the Prime Minister of Malaysia, which includes fiscal incentives, grants and other guarantees to assist growth. The message should be clear. As Ross MacLachlan, CEO of Lignol Innovations in Berwyn, Pennsylvania, puts it: ‘The potential market for biochemicals from renewable sources is enormous and represents an opportunity to transform the supply chains for businesses worldwide. ‘What is most needed are policies that provide incentives for customers to become early adopters of renewable chemicals and renewable materials. Early adopters who can show market leadership and champion the introduction of new materials into their supply chains will serve as a catalyst to ignite an emerging business with immediate environmental and economic benefits on a major scale.’ The recently introduced production tax credit will help the US compete with other countries to capitalise on this opportunity. l For more information:

This article was written by Paul Winters, director of communications at the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO),

Inside Verdezyne’s pilot facility in California

November/December 2013 • 55

Bioenergy biochemicals

Can biomass replace crude oil? One biomaterials company is on a mission to replace petroleum-based chemicals with sustainable, zero carbon speciality chemicals


an biomass replace crude oil? The answer is a resounding ‘yes’ but some serious considerations need to be made leading up to that event. One of the most important issues to address when talking about replacing any petroleumbased product is feedstock. Feedstock considerations Virgin feedstocks require a relatively large investment upfront, which dictates a greater cost for the final product. It is hard to leverage a costly replacement in the marketplace, and consumers are not likely to latch on to exorbitantly priced replacements, even if they are more environmentally sound. From an ecological standpoint, virgin feedstocks do not offer any easy answers and are often the source of debate surrounding the validity of replacement products. The biggest issue facing humanity in the coming decades is the lack of food and water. By diverting virgin feedstocks destined for human consumption to be used in biomass alternatives, these issues are only compounded and, instead of moving towards a solution, more profound challenges are created. The key to solving this problem is to secure a supply of diverse non-virgin feedstocks.

By addressing the issue of feedstock cost upfront, the consistent volatility and rising price of crude oil will serve to sustain consumer demand for natural replacements. And, if the feedstock is sourced from by-products, the ecological issues raised by virgin feedstocks are no longer a factor. Creating a product that truly alleviates an environmental burden leads to consumer peace of mind, inevitably bolstering interest and demand. Lucrative markets First and foremost, the primary focus needs to be on high value products. It is too difficult to create waves in the market when incredible R&D is hampered by hefty price tags on products with little hope of return on investment. By placing increased attention on high value products, such as flavours and fragrance, not only is real revenue generated to fund further product development, but consumer awareness is piqued and the entire industry benefits. The degradation of organic matter to produce biochemicals and biogas relies on the complex interaction of several different groups of bacteria. Stable operation requires that these bacterial groups be in dynamic and harmonious equilibrium.

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Changes in environmental conditions affect this equilibrium and result in the production of intermediates. Bacteria will play a major role in the future of clean technology and biochemistry. These organisms produce non-toxic, carbon neutral biochemicals that do not require petroleum feedstock or the carbon and energy intensity of current petrochemical refining. These renewable chemicals can be used across the industrial supply chain as drop-in replacements to petrochemicals. Genetically modified organisms (GMO) offer great future promise, but have inherent environmental, stability and regulatory risks associated with them. Practice what you preach US company Blue Marble Biomaterials has developed a platform that combines specific bacterial ecologies, as well as environmental management processes to target and produce chemical compounds. It does not use GMO technologies as the futures of biotechnology and manufacturing are inextricably bound as we transition away from fossil based resources. The company uses two technologies to manufacture high value, natural biochemicals for the flavour, fragrance and personal care

markets. The first, Supercritical Extraction, uses Blue Marble’s own US and EU natural certified solvents to extract products from feedstock, instead of petroleum-based solvents. These products are manufactured using non-virgin feedstocks that would have otherwise been sent to landfills or composting facilities. Secondly, Blue Marble’s conversion platform, Acid Gas and Ammonia Targeted Extraction, features an advanced form of anaerobic fermentation, which manipulates microbial environments to produce biochemical compounds, biomethane and various nitrogen compounds. These high-value natural biochemicals can compete at cost with petroleum-based biochemicals and, depending on facility scale, the company’s products could potentially be offered on the market below the cost of petroleum-based chemicals. Crude oil replacement is not a pipe dream. Innovation, awareness and emerging technologies are the keys to making crude oil replacement a reality. By being acutely aware of the pitfalls as well as the positive, progress is inevitable. l For more information:

This article was written by Colby Underwood, co-CEO and chief business officer of Blue Marble Biomaterials,

Bioenergy Insight

spark detection Bioenergy Every year people are injured and killed as a result of industrial fires and dust explosions. Instead of taking action after such a potentially catastrophic event, it is possible to be proactive and prevent a fire or explosion from occurring in the first place. Keeley Downey speaks to Anders Bergstöm of Firefly to find out more

A hot topic Why are biomass plantrelated incidents so prevalent given the safety technology available today? Handling coal is very different to handling biomass and there are many more risks associated with the latter. Coal-burning power stations require lower levels of protection systems compared to those firing wood pellets but I don’t think this has been widely understood in the past. Knowledge is starting to grow and people in the industry are beginning to realise that wood pellets are far more dangerous when it comes to fire risks. Why is the seriousness of such incidents only coming to the forefront now? The incidents themselves are playing a key role in getting the industry to wake up and take note of the potential dangers. One such major incident was at RWE’s now shuttered Tilbury power station in the UK, which caught fire in February last year. How might a fire or explosion be created in a biomass power plant? Three elements are needed to start a fire or combustion: a burnable material, oxygen and an ignition

Bioenergy Insight

source. Two other factors are needed if an explosion is to occur: an enclosure and dispersed wood dust. Looking at newly-built plants that are handling biomass, much of the conveyors, chutes and the like are now enclosed in order to keep dust inside the process. While this is a positive move it also creates a dusty atmosphere inside the enclosure, thus increasing the risk for a dust explosion there. The installation of a spark detection system reduces the risk of an explosion occurring inside an enclosed space by taking away the ignition source. The technology detects ignition sources and extinguishes them. What is considered an ignition source? Many fire problems in the pellet industry are caused by friction. The friction itself does not generate sparks, but causes hot surfaces and heated material. Contrary to popular belief, a spark is likely not to be the biggest risk when it comes to fires and explosions at a biomass plant. Different materials have different minimum ignition temperatures and different minimum ignition energies. Only when both these temperatures

and energy levels are met or exceeded will an ignition take place. An impact spark can have a high temperature; it can very well be 1,000°C. But an impact spark normally contains a very low amount of energy and is therefore not likely to cause an ignition. For a cloud of wood dust, the ignition temperature is 470°C — that’s a completely black particle. When this same wood dust is presented as a layer, for example in a storage silo, the ignition temperature is then much lower at around 260°C. How does Firefly’s spark detection equipment find and eliminate sparks and hot particles? We have developed a patented technology based on Infrared (IR) radiation detection. Our True IR detectors are based on lead sulphide cells and are insensitive to daylight. This means they are completely out of the visible light range and the technology remains unaffected by any light that may come into the process. It is important the system is stable, preventing any false triggering and disturbances that would inject unnecessary water into the process or result in costly production downtime. Conventional spark detectors are based on silicone photodiodes and will

therefore detect visible light and near infrared radiation. Once a particle is detected, it is automatically extinguished in seconds before it can create a fire or explosion. The detection and extinguishing functionalities are controlled by a control unit. How are ignition sources then extinguished? Water is the most common method of extinguishing. A high pressure of water is needed to penetrate and successfully extinguish it. Firefly provides high-speed full-cone extinguishing with a novel nozzle design and placement from different directions aimed to penetrate and cover the entire material flow inside a pneumatic conveying system or chute. Conventional extinguishing systems use hollow-cone spray nozzles with relatively small water droplets, often installed only from one direction. Consequently, conventional extinguishing provides less ability to penetrate the entire material flow and can leave uncovered areas inside a pneumatic conveying system or chute. l

For more information:

Firefly is a supplier of spark detection, dust and explosion protection systems. Contact Nanda Jansson,

Firefly’s IR detectors are insensitive to daylight

November/December 2013 • 57

Bioenergy biomass conversion Does a new hydrothermal liquefaction technology hold more promise than pyrolysis and gasification?

A new technology platform for renewable ‘crude’


he cost-effective and scaled production of synthetic liquid hydrocarbons or biooil is being explored as a means to address a latent demand for low-carbon (renewable) alternatives to petrochemical feedstocks and/or transportation fuels. This demand is also driven, in some cases, by geopolitical risks or national interests in utilising locally produced feedstocks including the desire to preserve balance of payments or decrease reliance on specific hydrocarbon exporting countries. Conventional biofuels such as ethanol made from cane sugar or cornstarch, or biodiesel made from plant oils and animal fats, are considered ‘commercial’ from a market acceptance perspective, if not an economic basis, and account for about 3% of global liquid transportation fuel volumes. These renewable fuels rely on costly feedstocks, which often form part of the global food chain. Lignocellulosic biomass such as industrial, forestry, agricultural and/or municipal wastes can serve as an alternative feedstock for biofuels. Such feedstocks are generally characterised as having high moisture and oxygen content and consequently a low, and in some cases a negative, cost.

Technologies that convert lignocellulosic feedstocks into petrochemicals are currently being developed via biochemical and thermochemical processes. Biochemical processes rely on extracting, hydrolysing and biologically converting the structural saccharides (cellulose and hemicellulose). Thermochemical conversion utilises heat and chemicals to convert the whole biomass (including the lignin) to liquid hydrocarbons.

properties which are similar Both pyrolysis and to those of conventional fuels. gasification processes require Pyrolysis converts dry feedstocks that are biomass to an oxygenatedbelow 10-20% moisture. intermediate, up to 40 wt% oxygen, that must Hydrofaction technology subsequently be upgraded in order to produce petrol, Steeper Energy Aps (Denmark) diesel or jet blend-stocks. has developed a proprietary The upgrading or dehydrothermal liquefaction oxygenation of pyrolysis oils technology, Hydrofaction, typically entails two or more which directly transforms hydro-processing steps that low-energy density feedstocks consume significant hydrogen into high-energy density inputs and the utilisation and valuable bio-oil known of specialised catalysts. as Hydrofaction Oil. Gasification-derived gas Unlike pyrolysis and Thermochemical processes (syngas) is extensively cleaned gasification, Hydrofaction via electrostatic precipitators can treat wet biomass with Thermochemical processes and wet scrubbers before moisture contents as high as include pyrolysis, gasification being condensed catalytically 80 wt%. Expressed differently, and hydrothermal (via Fischer-Tropsch) to a moisture is in fact desirable liquefaction. These processes mixture of hydrocarbons, in the Hydrofaction process TM HYDROFACTION TECHNOLOGY are considered among the part of which is further and is the reaction medium TRANSFORMING LOW-ENERGYtoDENSITY FEEDSTOCKS most suitable to produce hydrocracked form blendfor the conversion process. INTO VALUABLE HIGH ENERGY LIQUID FUELS drop-in biofuels possessing stocks for diesel or jet fuels. Using supercritical water,








The Hydrofaction process

58 • November/December 2013

Bioenergy Insight

biomass conversion Bioenergy

Steeper Energy’s commercial bench-scale unit at Aalborg University in Denmark

low cost catalysts and anticoking additives, Hydrofaction liquefies and deoxygenates biomass without the need for other inputs such as hydrogen. One of the major benefits of this process is its ability to be located at or near the biomass resource being converted, rather than being close to other industrial or petrochemical infrastructure where hydrogen or immediate refining is available. Super criticality is a state of matter achieved when a fluid continues to be heated well beyond its boiling point. When contained and pressurised, this super compressed gas mimics the solvent properties of a liquid, while retaining diffusion properties of a gas. Furthermore, the super critical water undergoes a change in polarity that changes water’s chemical properties — in effect, water becomes a solvent to oil. When organic materials are subjected to supercritical conditions, any moisture intrinsic to the material, as well as water used to create the incoming slurry, becomes an aggressive chemical and physical force that, in the presence of low-cost catalysts, transforms the feedstock into synthetic crude oil. In effect, the supercritical

Bioenergy Insight

conditions facilitate the selective removal of oxygen from the feedstock molecule, thus improving the carbon:hydrogen ratio and the energy density of the resulting fuel oil. In the conversion of renewable lignocellulosic feedstocks, the Hydrofaction system produces Hydrofaction Oil, liquid CO2, ash and water. The use of sustainably-grown biomass produces a carbon neutral biocrude and the use of waste or residual biomass may generate a net carbon benefit or the avoidance of either CO2 or methane emissions. A major chemical reaction in the Hydrofaction process is decarboxylation and Steeper Energy is developing a proprietary apparatus to extract the process-CO2 from the reactor in a liquid form. The CO2 captured from this innovation can be geo-sequestered and/or used for enhanced oil recovery or other industrial purposes thus increasing the carbon benefits from either sustainable harvested or waste biomass. All of the water that is recovered from the input feedstock is separated and cleaned to a surface disposal quality, making Hydrofaction a net clean water producer.

The ash output is primarily comprised of minerals from the biomass and, assuming clean inputs, has an agronomic value in the form of trace elements. The Hydrofaction technology has a high thermal efficiency of between 80 and 90%. As water is kept under pressure and maintained in a liquid or supercritical state, there is no phase transition during the processing. Therefore, the normal energy losses associated with supply of the latent heat of evaporation to pre-dry feedstocks required by a competitive process such as combustion, gasification and pyrolysis are eliminated. The low parasitic losses, ranging from between 10 and 20%, are accomplished by extensive heat recovery. The technology can accommodate a variety of feedstocks and many feedstock types have already been tested. Together with Aalborg University, Steeper Energy operates its continuous bench-scale plant, where it is testing various combinations of lignocellulosic feedstocks as well as exploring innovations in supporting infrastructure and balance of plant which will ensure Hydrofaction

can be scaled up to produce many thousands of barrels of oil per day per installation. The resulting bio-oil is low in sulphur and has an oxygen content around 2-5 wt%, thus limiting the amount of hydrogen required during subsequent upgrading steps. As Hydrofaction produces some hydrogen syngas it may be possible to accomplish limited upgrading on-site, further improving Hydrofaction Oil quality and improving project economics. Best described as a ‘refinery intermediary’, the oil is fully miscible with petroleum allowing it to be slipstreamed into existing distribution and refining infrastructure. It may be used directly as a fuel-oil for power generation or marine propulsion, or it can also be fully hydrogenated at existing two-stage refineries via the hydrocracker to drop-in diesel transportation fuel or bio-jet. As the economics of hydrothermal upgrading have often been cited as holding back the commercialisation of the technology, Hydrofaction holds great promise.The process economics are highly compelling versus other biobased fuel oils and attractive even when compared to similar quality petroleumbased fuel oils assuming largescale biomass aggregation. Steeper Energy’s Canadian development company is currently entering its commercialisation phase. It has recently announced a letter of intent with the Port of Frederikshavn in Denmark to design, build and operate a 1,000 barrel per day refinery to produce low-sulphur bio-marine propulsion fuel using timber residues. At the same time, the company is developing a 10-100 barrel per day plant to be built in Alberta, Canada. l For more information:

This article was written by Steen Iversen, co-founder and chief technology officer of Steeper Energy Aps and Steeper Energy Canada,

November/December 2013 • 59

Bioenergy biomass conversion How is gasification technology helping divert waste away from landfills?

Biomass and waste gasification


odern gasification has been around since the 1950s. First deployed in the chemical sector, it has been used in the refining and power industries for over 30 years. Now, gasification is being used to convert biomass and waste into needed energy. Around 250 million tonnes of municipal solid waste (MSW) is generated annually in the US alone. Despite the energy contained in these materials, much of this sent to landfills. Gasification can help recover this valuable energy inside these feedstocks by converting the biomass and waste materials into syngas, which is then further converted into products such as electricity, chemicals, transportation fuels and fertilisers. Biomass and waste can be blended with other feedstocks, such as coal and petroleum coke. Biomass and waste gasification plants are generally smaller in scale than coal/petcoke gasification plants and operate at lower temperatures. Gasification market With 732 gasifiers operating worldwide, and 382 active real or planned commercial gasification projects, the gasification market is growing, but is different in North America than in Asia. In North America, the emergence of abundant and cheap natural gas has been a game changer, making coal

gasification less competitive economically. Those projects that are proceeding have been reconfigured to capture carbon dioxide and to produce multiple product streams such as power, urea for fertiliser production and carbon dioxide for enhanced oil recovery. With a strong interest in biomass and waste gasification worldwide, the Gasification Technologies Councilâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s worldwide gasification database shows there are 20 biomass/waste gasification plants in Europe, 13 in North America and 13 in Asia. India: Husk Power There is a strong interest in biomass gasification in India. With a population of 1.2 billion, India generates huge amounts of biomass, such as rice husks. India also has about 400 million people without power and another 300 million without access to reliable power. As a result it is looking at biomass gasification as a way to produce this much-needed power. Local company Husk Power is deploying small-scale biomass gasification plants to generate power for Indian villages. US: Ineos Bio On 1 August 2013 Ineos Bio began commercial operations at its 300 tonne per day waste-to-ethanol and power facility in Vero Beach, Florida. Using a combination of waste and non-food biomass as feedstock and its gasification technology, Ineos will produce 8 million gallons a year of bioethanol and 6MW of power.

60 â&#x20AC;˘ November/December 2013

The gasification process

Finland: Metso Metso uses a combination of household waste, woodchips and forest residue in its commercial gasification installations. These include Lahti Energia (biomass and waste) and the Vaskiluodon Boima biomass gasification plant where waste feedstocks displace between 25 and 40% coal.

The process Gasifiers that use oxygen require an air separation unit to provide the gaseous/ liquid oxygen, however this is not cost-effective for the smaller applications used by waste gasification plants. Air-blown gasifiers use the oxygen in the air for the gasification reactions.

Bioenergy Insight

biomass conversion Bioenergy Before entering the gasifier, the solid feedstocks are ground into small particles, while liquids and gases are fed directly. Then a controlled amount of air or oxygen is injected into the gasifier. The temperatures in a gasifier for MSW typically range from 593 to 982°C, while the temperature for coal or petroleum coke can vary between 760 and 1,538°C. Regardless of the feedstock, the syngas produced in a gasifier consists primarily of hydrogen and carbon monoxide — the basic building blocks for chemicals, fertilisers, substitute natural gas and liquid transportation fuels. Large-scale gasifiers are currently capable of processing up to 3,000 tonnes of feedstock per day, converting 70-85% of the carbon in the feedstock to syngas. Some downstream processes require the syngas be cleaned of trace levels of impurities. Trace minerals, particulates, sulphur, mercury and unconverted carbon can be removed to low levels using processes common to the chemical and refining industries. More than 95% of the mercury can be removed from the syngas using commercially-available activated carbon beds. The clean syngas can be sent to a boiler, internal combustion engine or gas turbine to produce power or further converted into

Gasification products

chemicals, fertilisers and transportation fuels. Market constraints There are currently a number of constraints hindering the widespread deployment of biomass-to-energy technologies, including gasification. These are: • The need for a constant source of biomass feedstock throughout the year. Many types of biomass are only available during the growing season

• Infrastructure developments which are needed to collect the biomass and transport it to the gasification plant • The limit on how far the biomass can be economically transported to the plant. In addition, there is concern with diverting biomass away from the food supply and using it for power • The view that gasification is another form of incineration. Numerous companies are working to overcome these constraints and efforts are underway to develop non-food

biomass sources that can be harvested year-round and transported economically. The growing shortage of landfill space, the increased generation of biomass and waste, the recognition that biomass represents recoverable energy and the global demands for energy are all prompting the growth of biomass and waste gasification. l For more information:

This article was written by Alison Kerester, executive director of the Gasification Technologies Council,

Gasification vs incineration Gasification is a fundamentally different process from incineration. Incineration, meaning render to ash, uses MSW as a fuel, burning it with high volumes of air to form carbon dioxide and heat. In a waste-to-energy plant that uses incineration, these hot gases are used to make steam, which then generates electricity. In gasification, the waste is not Bioenergy Insight

a fuel but a feedstock for a high temperature chemical conversion process. Gasification converts the waste feedstock into a usable synthesis gas which can then be converted into higher level products, such as chemicals, fertilisers, transportation fuels and substitute natural gas. One of the concerns with incineration of waste is the

formation and reformation of dioxins and furans, especially from PVCcontaining plastics. These toxins end up in the exhaust streams by: 1. Decomposition, as smaller parts of larger molecules 2. Reforming, when smaller molecules combine together 3. Passing through the incinerator without change.

November/December 2013 • 61

Bioenergy risk The prospect of co-firing biomass with coal is an attractive one, but there are a number of considerations energy producers must take on board before this becomes a reality

Risks of biomass fuel


oal generates the majority of electrical power in the US, with the Midwest especially dependent on coal-fuelled power (approximately 70%1). The option of co-firing biomass with coal represents an appealing opportunity to retain operational generation assets, reduce emissions and create new economic opportunities for communities the industry serves. However, adding or switching to biomass at existing coal-fired facilities comes with additional costs. Biomass fuels typically require investment in new storage facilities, material handling equipment and boiler modifications, which may also imply the reduction of boiler capacity. On a Btu basis, biomass-derived fuels are often more costly than fossil fuels. Stand-alone biomass fuelled

plants are usually smaller generation facilities compared to typical base load coal-fired plants. The optimal feasible size of these plants is largely dependent on the anticipated sustainable supply from the local biomass fuel shed. Effective biomass supply agreements attempt to take advantage of the local nature of biomass supplies, the quality of roads and other regional transportation options (e.g. barge, rail and/or trucking) to provide some price protection from rising transportation costs. Competition What might happen if new regulations signal the need for the energy industry to switch from 100% coal? Given current business practices, it is impractical to assume the biomass industry will

Harvesting equipment is not currently well suited for biomass crops

62 â&#x20AC;˘ November/December 2013

be able to quickly respond to an increase in utilityscale fuel demand. Utilities could be high capacity users of biomass. However, with natural gas prices below $4 (â&#x201A;Ź3) per 1 million Btu, the financial attractiveness of natural gas is difficult to ignore. The inability of biomass markets to rapidly respond to a large increase in demand, plus the lack of utility experience with biofuel supplies, the investment required to modify coal facilities to adapt to biomass and the relatively quick deployment of natural gas generation plants are all factors favouring natural gas power generation. The greatest opportunity for biomass lies among smaller projects (less than 15MW) which can be easily serviced from the regional fuel shed. Within this group,

the best opportunity comes from industrial, commercial and small municipal biomass combined heat and power (CHP) projects. Projects located at the tertiary parts of natural gas pipelines, or in areas without existing pipelines, are especially attractive. Biomass supply issues

While there are many technical challenges regarding the combustion of biomass, the most significant issue is more business-related. The development of a sustainable fuel supply meeting the requirements of any heat or power facility is critical to securing project funding and achieving the projectâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s longterm financial objectives. The first step in developing a plan for the biomass fuel supply base is to conduct an assessment of the biomass availability in regions surrounding the generation facility. This step leads directly to development of a strategic and comprehensive biomass acquisition plan. Development of a biofuel supply chain can be a complex logistical undertaking: an effective system requires excellent landowner relationships, long-term fuel acquisition contracts and investment of labour and capital in harvest, storage and processing facilities and equipment. The biomass procurement plan must also consider the range of fuel chemistry and physical characteristics impacting material handling and boiler performance. For example, forest-

Bioenergy Insight

risk Bioenergy based materials offer a long harvest window. When properly sized, woody biofuel feedstocks (like micro-chips or pellets) can be handled by many conventional coal handling systems. Like coal, woodchips with the appropriate rotation of stock can be stored in outdoor piles. However, woodchip fuels can be problematic. If the plant operator expects existing coal crushing systems to reduce woodchip particle size, as with most coal fuels, the handling systems are often deficient in this regard. Btu value of green wood varies depending on its moisture content which is dependent on when the wood is harvested. Force drying wood to the desired moisture content adds costs to the fuel. Wood pellets and briquettes are easily handled by coal systems, but the cost of densification is higher than woodchips, green or dry. In addition, much harvesting equipment designed for agricultural applications are not currently well suited for the industrial-scale harvest of biomass crops destined for fuels. The energy industry should continue to support research on harvesting processes that increase equipment life, minimise soil impacts, reduce handling costs and produce biomass that resembles the end user’s fuel specifications. Without efforts to reduce fuel cost and improve land operator net economic returns, the

energy industry will struggle to meet the fuel needs of any biomass-fired facility. Research Several potential sources of biomass fuel are currently being studied in North America. Herbaceous and woody crops such as miscanthus, switchgrass, forage sorghum, high yield

frequently required. The benefits with some of these biomass crops are that most are perennials that require a one-time establishment cost (miscanthus, switchgrass) and can be harvested multiple times over many years with minimal annual investment. Addressing the concerns and expectations of the farmer is another important consideration:

The financial attractiveness of natural gas is difficult to ignore. The greatest opportunity for biomass lies among small projects grasses, hybrid poplar, larch, cottonwood and willow are attractive sources of biomass from an energy perspective. However, before any of these closed loop feedstocks can become commercially viable, additional research is necessary to determine appropriate land and crop management practices. Some crops (especially the grasses) have the potential to meet yield optimisation criteria but may require specialised equipment for crop establishment, harvesting, handling and processing. The time lag of planting-to-harvest for some crops (such as trees) can become a financial challenge. Funding methods and business agreements addressing both opportunity and establishment costs are

the investment in the specialised requirements for successfully growing new crops and the uncertainty of their profit potential are challenging hurdles. Convincing landowners to change from high value crops such as corn and soyabeans requires careful thought and strategy. An alternative value proposition could be beneficial, often leveraging marginally productive lands with long-term contracts. This helps reduce risks both for landowner and the convertor. Biomass as feedstock There is no perfect biomassderived fuel. Nevertheless, through smart acquisition and strategic planning of fuel supplies, the energy producer can take advantage

of each fuels’ calendar of availability and blend fuels to reduce problems caused by moisture and fuel chemistry. Absent publically sponsored incentives or markets for environmental attributes (e.g. carbon offset markets) means it is difficult for biomass to compete with the price of coal or natural gas. Purpose-grown crops also lack some risk management tools, such as crop insurance and interstate commerce protections available to traditional agriculture crops. Research aimed at reducing biomass fuel cost through optimising yields and improving the efficiency of harvesting, transportation, storage and processing of fuels is important. It is also crucial to fully understand the issues faced by the landowner, harvester and processor to be able to work collaboratively in development of a longterm sustainable fuel supply. And since landowners have a multitude of land management options, the energy industry will need to present opportunities that attract landowner participation: profitably cultivate purpose-grown energy crops and market forest products and crop residues. These opportunities must meet landowner’s stewardship and economic expectations, along with avoiding price shocks to the power consumer. The agriculture and forestry industries have an excellent opportunity to improve their bottom line though the production of biomass fuels. Such developments will assist energy producers to manage costs and achieve their price targets and renewable energy and carbon reduction objectives. l References: 1 IEA, 2010

For more information: Miscanthus requires minimal investment

Bioenergy Insight

This article was written by Bill Johnson and Tim Baye, ReCon Associates,

November/December 2013 • 63

Bioenergy emissions

From the cow’s mouth Danish researchers are looking into novel ways of reducing cattle emissions


ver the last 60 years, dairy cattle have been selectively bred to maximise milk production and, as a result, cows have become extremely efficient at converting food such as grass, silage, hay and concentrates into agricultural products such as milk and meat. At the same time, feed quality, ration formulation and herd management have all contributed to the overall increase in productivity. However, one of the byproducts of rumination, the process by which animals such as sheep and cattle digest food, is methane — a powerful greenhouse gas (GHG). Retrospective calculations indicate there has been a 40% reduction in methane emissions per litre of milk produced in the US from 1944 to 2007. Nevertheless, over the course of a year, the methane from one cow is equivalent to the carbon dioxide emissions from a small car. Globally, it has been estimated that livestock account for 15% of total GHG emissions so there is a great deal of interest in finding ways to reduce this value. The global warming potential of methane is about 25 times that of carbon dioxide so a small reduction in methane production could have significantly beneficial effects. Researchers in a number of countries have recently shown it is possible to reduce methane emission from cows by altering their diet. However this is only likely to have a beneficial effect on GHG emissions if the necessary feeds are available to farmers at a cost that does not increase the overall cost of the diet, and if these

feeds do not have a negative effect on animal production. However, if those individuals that generate lower levels of methane can be identified, it would be possible to build this into breeding programmes. Researchers in Denmark have succeeded in measuring the quantities of GHGs in the breath of dairy cows and demonstrated a heritable variability between individual animals. Gas sampling

Methane is a by-product of fermentation in the rumen and is expelled by belching or eructation. Around 80% of ruminant methane emissions emerge from the mouth of the animal, with only 20% emitted from the rear, so this is why the Danish workers focused on cow’s breath in their research. Naturally, it can be difficult to capture all of a cow’s breath under natural conditions, so the researchers constructed a sampling system that collects the breath of cows as they stood in an automatic milking machine — an activity which

took place between two and 12 times per day during the research programme. Gas analysis

The two main GHGs of interest were methane and carbon dioxide, and these were measured simultaneously with a Gasmet Fourier Transform InfraRed (FTIR) analyser. Initially, a Gasmet DX4030 portable FTIR analyser was borrowed from the University of Copenhagen for this work, but subsequently a similar analyser, a Gasmet DX4000 was purchased and built into a customised air-conditioned chamber that protected the analyser from dust and dirt. FTIR A FTIR spectrometer obtains infrared spectra by first collecting an ‘interferogram’ of a sample signal with an interferometer, which measures all infrared frequencies simultaneously to produce a spectrum. High levels of accuracy and low levels of maintenance are achieved

as a result of continuous calibration with a He-Ne laser, which provides a stable wavenumber scale. In addition, high spectral signal to noise ratio and high wavenumber precision are characteristic of the FTIR method. While the Gasmet FTIR is able to measure methane and carbon dioxide continuously, it also produces spectra for the sampled gases from which it is possible to determine the concentrations of hundreds of others. This was an important consideration in the choice of FTIR. ‘Simpler, lower cost analysers are available for measuring methane and carbon dioxide,’ says Jan Lassen, who led the research project on individual methane measurements from dairy cows at Aarhus University, ‘but we wanted to build a comprehensive picture of cattle breath analysis, over as many animals as possible and for as many chemical species as possible. The Gasmet FTIR is supplied with ‘Calcmet’ software which means the data can be stored and used

Gas sampling during milking

64 • November/December 2013

Bioenergy Insight

emissions Bioenergy by others in the future. ‘Calcmet contains a library of reference spectra that extends to simultaneous quantification of 50 gases or identification of unknowns from a collection of 5,000+ gases. This means it is possible to retrospectively analyse produced spectra for almost any chemical species. ‘Initially, we were most interested in methane and carbon dioxide, but in the future we plan to study the levels of gases such as acetone, ammonia, ethanol and nitrous oxide. These gases are likely to be indicators of metabolic efficiency, so the FTIR spectra could open new opportunities for improving the efficiency of animal production,’ Lassen continues. Results and conclusions Both concentrate feed intake and total mixed ration intake were positively related to methane production, whereas

Bioenergy Insight

milk production level was not correlated with methane production. Following research involving over 1,000 cows, methane production was found to vary between individuals by around 20% and this was shown to be a heritable trait. In other research, a heritable variability of 13% was found in sheep. Similar research at the University of Nottingham in the UK also concluded that variability between individuals might offer opportunities for genetic selection. Much of the success that has been achieved in the improvement of dairy cattle performance has been through the selection of bulls with offspring that display desirable traits — high milk yield or beef production efficiency, for example. This research has shown that it is possible to measure the methane production rates of cattle and thereby to infer a ‘methane score’ for individual bulls, so

this could become a selection criterion for farmers when choosing sires for dairy herds. By selecting sires with a good methane score, dairy farmers could make a contribution to the fight against climate change. However, it may be difficult to encourage them to make such choices unless there is a significant commercial reason for doing so. On this point, Lassen says: ‘The eructation of methane represents a loss of energy and therefore a lowering of production efficiency, so it makes commercial sense for farmers to select individuals with a better methane score, not just because it helps fight climate change, but also because it probably improves the efficiency of ruminant digestion in offspring.’ Looking forward Lassen hopes international projects that aim to combine

the data obtained from research such as his with others in other countries can be initiated soon. For example, he is aware of several researchers conducting similar work with Gasmet FTIR analysers in other countries, and gas analysis spectra from these projects will be combined to improve the understanding of methane production heritability. However, these spectra also offer an opportunity to analyse different chemical species in order to further investigate ruminant productivity. As more data is collected from larger numbers of cattle, it will become possible to establish a methane score for specific bulls and Lassen is optimistic that this will become a selection criterion in the future. l For more information:

This article was written by Antti Heikkilä, Gasmet Europe Oy,

November/December 2013 • 65

Bioenergy biogas metering Biogas is difficult to accurately measure due to its varying composition, until now. New technology provides for precise mass flow measurements

Mass flow measuring


enewable energy in the US accounted for 13.2% of the domestically produced electricity in 2012. Among the sources of renewable energy is the production of biogas from landfill gas (LFG) or digester gas. To monetise biogas and create the most efficient fuel sources, it is critical to accurately measure how much biogas is produced in each stage of the process. Accurately measuring biogas is an inherently challenging application with its changing gas composition, low pressure, and dirty, wet gas. Finding an accurate mass flow meter measurement solution for this application increases a facility’s efficiency and revenue stream due to increased biogas and energy production. Sources of biogas

Many large wastewater treatment plants have digester tanks that use sewage sludge as the biodegradable material. During the process, the microorganisms in the airtight digester tank transform sewage into a mixture of primarily methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2), producing renewable energy. Harnessing biogas from landfills is also a growing source of biogas. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that there are approximately 6,000 landfills in the US contributing an estimated 650 billion cubic feet of methane per year. Landfill gas, containing mostly CH4 and CO2, is produced by wet organic waste, decomposing under

anaerobic conditions in a landfill which is covered and mechanically compressed by the weight of the material that is deposited from above. This material prevents oxygen exposure thus allowing anaerobic microbes to thrive. This gas builds up and is slowly released into the atmosphere. Much like digester gas at wastewater treatment plants, large landfills collect and use biogas for energy. Its heating value is around 600 Btu per cubic foot, depending on its composition. In contrast, natural gas contains about 80% methane, with a heating value of around 1,000 Btu per cubic foot. Filtering biogas, or ‘scrubbing’ it, can remove carbon dioxide and other impurities, raising the heating value. Natural gas may be added to the biogas in order to raise its heating value. In all parts of this process, facility managers must accurately measure the flow rate of the biogas and natural gas to get the optimal heat value and energy potential from their biogas production facility. Varying composition

The flow measurement challenge in biogas applications is that the composition of biogas varies depending on the source. Biogas typically contains about 55-65% CH4,

30-35% CO2, and some hydrogen, nitrogen and other impurities. However, a representative compositional analysis (in volumetric percentage), shown in Table 1, shows the wide ranges in CH4 composition between 50-75% and CO2 between 25-50%. This represents how the biogas composition can change over time with changing conditions in the landfill or in the digester tank. Such variable composition makes biogas difficult to accurately measure. Most flow meters are calibrated for one specific gas mix composition thus they cannot provide accurate mass flow meter readings if the composition changes without sending the meter back to the factory for recalibration. The driver for capturing and measuring biogas from landfills and wastewater treatment plants is to produce efficient energy sources if used for co-generation or to meet EPA requirements if flared. In co-generation, facility managers are dependent on accurate flow measurements of biogas produced, even with its varying gas composition, so they know exactly how much natural gas to add to the biogas, creating fuel with the highest heat value or Btus. If the biogas heat values are too low due to gas composition changes and other factors, the optimal amount of natural

gas will not be added and cogeneration will not be efficient. This heating value of the biogas, thus the gas composition, is also critical in combustion systems — boilers, turbines, or fuel cells — for producing space heating, water heating, drying, absorption cooling and steam production. The composition of the gas used in gas turbines and fuel cells to produce electricity is directly related to the efficiency of such devices and thus to the profit at which the electricity produced can be sold. The same is true of stationary or mobile internal combustion engines where composition is related to shaft horsepower, electricity cogeneration efficiency and vehicle MPG. Finally, if the biogas is sold to the natural gas grid, custody transfer is based on the composition. Measuring biogas Since the biogas composition is critical to its energy producing value, facilities need to assess the best flow meter measurement technology to manage the compositional changes in biogas. Many companies with varying technologies are interested in measuring the biogas as it leaves the landfill or digester tank, but this is a challenging application for many reasons: 1. Varying gas compositions

Typical composition of biogas Compound Molecular Methane CH4 Carbon dioxide CO2 Nitgrogen N2 Hydrogen H2 Hydrogen sulphide H2S Oxygen 0 2

Percentage 50-75 25-50 0-10 0-1 0-3 0-0

Table 1: Composition of biogas over time

66 • November/December 2013

Bioenergy Insight

biogas metering Bioenergy can hold up to four user customisable gas mixtures onboard and store biogas composition in a proprietary gas library, accessed through user software. Engineers and operators have access to this gas library which contains all the gas properties needed to make algorithmic gas mass flow rate calculations. Once sampling has determined the biogas composition, operators can use a simple software tool to create and name a proprietary biogas mixture. This tool uses the internet to download the gas properties of new mixtures and then uploads the new mixture into the meter in the field, allowing operators and engineers to use just one meter with one calibration for varying gas compositions. Four-sensor thermal technology

The new quadratherm sensor

(see Table 1) make accurate measurements difficult because most meters are calibrated for one gas or mixture; when the composition changes, the flow measurements are no longer accurate and the meter must be recalibrated 2. Low pressure makes differential pressure devices, such as orifice plates, unsuitable since they require a large differential pressure to operate 3. Biogas is often dirty with a high moisture and particulate content, which can clog up devices such as annubars and orifice plates, and gum up turbine meters and similar instruments that have moving parts. Traditionally, thermal mass flow meters have been the instrument of choice. They offer reasonable accuracy for the price (2% of reading) and use a convenient insertion design that eliminates pressure drop. They also have no moving parts and can measure both high and low flows with a 100:1 turndown. While such meters do many

Bioenergy Insight

things well, one thing they cannot do is account for changes in biogas composition. These flow meters must be calibrated for a specific biogas mix and rapidly lose accuracy if gas composition changes, which means the instrument must be sent back to the factory to recalibrate for the changing gas composition, wasting time, resources and money. One way to account for variable composition would be with a continuous real-time sampling system integrated with a flow meter. A few systems are available with more in development, but integrating such a system into a flow measurement system is typically expensive and high maintenance. In general, while biogas composition does change over time, it does not change quickly. In current practice, the composition of the biogas is calculated by periodic manual sampling of the various digesters or landfill collection points, avoiding the need for an expensive system. Ideally, composition management would be moved

into the flow meter itself and recent advances in the field of thermal technology means this is possible for the first time. New metering technology Recently, thermal technology has undergone significant advancements, moving from two- to four-sensor technology which yields accurate thermal insertion flow meters of +/0.75% of reading (compared to the 2% reading possible previously with other thermal technologies). New four-sensor quadratherm technology from Sierra Instruments, a manufacturer of fluid flow measurement and control instrumentation, is an emerging solution for accurately measuring and managing biogas with its changing gas composition. This mass flow meter uses inputs from the four sensors, allowing for the precise calculation of heat convected away by biogas mass flow, thus providing accurate mass flow measurements in under a second. The meter

The four-sensor quadratherm mass flow meter meets the criteria for successful biogas measurement by managing changes in: • Gas composition • Gas mass flow rate • Gas temperature • Gas pressure • Outside temperature • Pipe conditions (size and roughness) • Flow profile These hanging conditions can all be managed with accurate readings without sending the flow meter back to the factory for recalibration (unlike traditional two-sensor thermal flow meters), reducing downtime and calibration costs. In the effort to harness biofuels such as biogas, the demand for accurate flow measurement for varying gas compositions is growing. Finding the best flow meter for this biogas measurement technology is critical for optimising the energy yields of biogas production. l For more information:

This article was written by Scott Rouse, VP of product management at Sierra Instruments,

November/December 2013 • 67

Bioenergy feedstock preparation Removing packaging from feedstock prior to the AD process is key to achieving PAS110

De-packaging feedstock for digestion


ackaged food waste is a valuable commodity and a rich source of material for anaerobic digestion (AD) plants. Popular feedstock materials are packaged supermarket and kerbside collected kitchen waste and municipal waste — all of which generally arrive in plastic, biodegradable or starch bags. Starch bags can cause a number of problems in anaerobic digesters and, if not removed, can block pumps and screw conveyors and take up valuable space in the digesters. The bags will not degrade in the digesters as they require air (aerobic). Depending on the environmental conditions and thickness, starch bags can take between six weeks and one year to degrade totally. Farmers will resist using digestate or compost comprising these bags because their fields initially gain the appearance of a landfill site prior to decomposing. Starch bags are only made up of typically 15% starch.

Case study: Langage Farm Langage Farm is one out of just 11 companies in the UK with PAS 110 certification for its digestate end product. The farm generates 500kW of renewable heat and power from 11,00013,000 tonnes a year of household kitchen waste. ‘Pumps and rotating machinery do not like packaging — tin cans, plastic bags or rags, for Where there is starch, there will also be plastics. There are a growing number of machines coming onto the market aimed at resolving this de-packaging problem. The majority of equipment available is based on hammermills or shredding machinery which shred the packaged food waste before passing it through a squeezing process. Shredding reduces all the material to a similar size, thus increasing the difficulty of separation at the next stage. The size of the screens

example — as they can cause blockages. As far as the microbes in the digester are concerned, they don’t care if there is plastic in the tank,’ explains Gary Jones, engineering manager. Digestate produced at Langage Farm contains ‘untraceable amounts’ of contaminants, 90% of which are removed using Atritor’s separation equipment.

fitted has a profound effect on the amount of packaging passing through with the feedstock or the quantity of organics carried over with the separated packaging. Typically 75% of packaging is removed but a large amount of organics pass with it. The Turbo Separator from equipment supplier Atritor is designed to open the packaging just enough to allow the contents to be removed. Using centrifugal forces and mechanical action generated by the paddle, the separator

Jones adds: ‘The Atritor is not solely responsible for us achieving untraceable amounts in our digestate but it’s the first stage. The remaining contaminants are then removed by systems designed by Germany-based Fiatec Systems. We chose the Atritor system over others because of financial reasons; it is robust and can be maintained easily.’

damages the packaging just enough to achieve separation rates of up to 99% efficiency. Less organics are removed with the packaging and fewer packaging passes through with the organics as contents are kept large in size, resulting in a higher separation rate. It can handle both packaged dry and liquid materials. A number of AD plants using this de-packaging technology have achieved, or are in the process of achieving, PAS110 for quality anaerobic digestate. l

Case study: Fernbrook Bio Fernbrook Bio owns an

AD plant at Rothwell Lodge Farm in Northamptonshire, UK. The facility handles 30,000 tonnes a year of food waste and has permission to expand this to 49,000 tonnes in the future. Much of the food waste is sourced from within a 30 mile

radius, collected from local authorities, supermarkets, food manufacturers and universities. The plant produces 1.5MW of renewable electricity, which Fernbrook Bio sells to the grid to power 2,000 homes, and heat, some of which is used in the

68 • November/December 2013

production process. When the plant was built by the company’s sister firm Fernbrook Builders in January 2010, the company’s MD Shaun Cherry decided to install separation equipment from Atritor. ‘I felt it was the best machinery to handle the material that we’re

processing,’ he explains. The operation of this equipment means Fernbrook’s digestate complies with PAS110. Cherry says that while ‘other systems are also involved’ in receiving this certification, the installation of Atritor’s technology has contributed.

Bioenergy Insight

events and advert index Bioenergy Bioenergy events Event Mon

Venue Tue


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Vancouver, Canada




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4th Central European Biomass Conference

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24 - 26 March 2014

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1 - 3 April 2014

15 16 Trading 2014 17 Argus European Biomass


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12 - 14 May 2014

11th Annual World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology

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3 - 5 June 2014

Renewable Energy World Conference & Expo Europe

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23 Conference & Expo 24 22nd European Biomass


26 Hamburg, Germany


28 23 - 26 June 2014

UK AD & Biogas

Birmingham, UK

2 - 3 July 2014

The Renewables Event

Birmingham, UK

16 - 17 September 2014

Biofuels International Conference 2014

Ghent, Belgium

24 - 25 September 2014

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.

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Bioenergy Insight November/December 2013  

Bioenergy Insight is a publication targeted at companies producing biomass fuel in the form of pellets and briquettes, and those using bioma...

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