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January/February 2013 Issue 1 • Volume 4

The next big bio-thing

2013 could be the year that bio-based chemicals make the leap from lab-scale prototype to factory floor

Regional focus: bioenergy in Europe


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contents Bioenergy

Contents Issue 1 • Volume 4 January/February 2013 Horseshoe Media Limited Marshall House 124 Middleton Road, Morden, Surrey SM4 6RW, UK www.bioenergy-news.com publisher & Editor Margaret Dunn Tel: +44 (0)20 8687 4126 margaret@bioenergy-news.com Deputy EDITOR James Barrett Tel: +44 (0)20 8687 4146 james@bioenergy-news.com ASSISTANT EDITOR Keeley Downey Tel: +44 (0)20 8687 4183 keeley@horseshoemedia.com INTERNATIONAL Sales MANAGER Anisha Patel Tel: +44 (0) 203 551 5752 anisha@bioenergy-news.com North America sales representative Matt Weidner +1 610 486 6525 mtw@weidcom.com

3 Comment 4 Biomass news 12 Biogas news 17 Biopower news 20 Biopellet news 22 Technology news 28 Green page 29 Incident report 30 Funding for rural energy independence wanted

The US Farm Bill needs to be re-evaluated for energy concerns according to two major coalitions

31 Renewable rollercoaster

A healthy long-term heat incentive is needed more than ever by the UK, says solicitor Ben Halfpenny

32 2013 global outlook 35 Manageable incentives

Could 2013 be the year Europe sees solid foundations to help member states achieve EC bioenergy targets?

37 Not so territorial

Graanul Invest’s CEO speaks to Bioenergy Insight magazine about why his company has set its sights on the Americas

PRODUCTION Alison Balmer Tel: +44 (0)1673 876143 alisonbalmer@btconnect.com

40 Bring on those targets

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 marketing@horseshoemedia.com

42 Plant update – Europe

47 The next big bio-thing

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

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

Bioenergy Insight

Now operational, the largest biogas-powered fuel cell generator in the world symbolises the evolution of a hot technology multiplying across global landscapes

53 Finding the buyer

What are the key components every project needs to make sure they are attractive to a ‘buyer’?

56 Home and dry at Dryholme Farm 59 Top dewatering technologies

Implementing pre- and finish-drying technology could improve efficiency in the plant

62 Managing moisture

should verify facts and statements direct with official sources before

2013 could be the year that bio-based chemicals make the leap from lab-scale prototype to factory floor

51 Multiplying cells

Follow us on Twitter: @BioenergyInfo

No part of this publication may

Director of BioG UK Ed Thomas talks about why he is excited about biogas production in 2013

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2013 Issue 1 • Volume 4

Moisture affects the ability to manufacture pellets. While moisture is necessary, excessive amounts increase the weight and affect product quality

64 Giving coal boilers a new lease of life 66 Making money through mixing 67 Developing sorghum as a dedicated energy crop

Advances in DNA marker assisted breeding has created a perfect storm for the development of new, efficient and cost-effective feedstocks

69 Event listing

The next big bio-thing

2013 could be the year that bio-based chemicals make the leap from lab-scale prototype to factory floor

Regional focus: bioenergy in Europe Bioenergy front cover_Jan-Feb_2013.indd 1

05/02/2013 13:42

Front cover image: © Kinetic Imagery. Image from bigstockphoto.com

January/February 2013 • 1


Bioenergy xxxx February 2011 Issue 1 • Volume 2

High standards

A new fuel stand ard will boost assurance in the US pellet market in 2011

A special relations

hip Why US pellet make so sweet on Europ rs are e The number one

Regional focus: bioen ergy in North Amer ica ion

source of informat

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Bioenergy Insight now comes out six times a year — subscribe now to receive your copy!

For just £130/€160/$210 a year subscribing to Bioenergy Insight will keep you on top of l Bioenergy news l Regulations and legislation l Technical and bioenergy updates — including pellets, biogas, biopower, biofuel plants and more l Regional insights l Interviews with leading biomass users and producers l A dedicated insight into energy feedstocks l A list of biopower and pellet plants under construction Can you afford to miss out? For subscriptions please contact Lisa Lee, Subscription Manager +44 (0) 20 8687 4160 or at marketing@horseshoemedia.com

xx • December Bioenergy Insight 2011

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Bioenergy July 2011 Insight • 43


comment Bioenergy

Easier said than done

In an industry plagued with challenges it can be difficult to look on the bright side. In this issue we show you how it’s done

T

Margaret Dunn Publisher

he New Year is now well on its way and, to kick things off, we’ve interviewed producers across the globe to hear their thoughts on the months ahead. The overall mood is one of positivity, primarily led by the fact that in Europe, as well as the US, many proposed renewable targets are promoting the use of power and fuel from biomass. The EPA, for example, has just announced its proposals to require production of 14 million gallons of cellulosic biofuels this year, up from 8.65 million gallons in 2012. Although the EPA’s 2013 proposed volume of cellulosic biofuel is set at 60% more than last year, the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) back in 2007 set an original expectation for

cellulosic biofuel volume as 1 billion gallons by 2013. But, although the cellulosic biofuel requirements were lowered, the requirements for advanced biofuels were retained. The European Commission has also announced it will not support first generation biofuels post-2020 and is instead spurring on those produced from feedstocks such as biomass. As a result of such proposals, biomass for biofuels and biochemicals is expected to triple to 3.7 billion tonnes by 2030, according to a report from Lux Research. This optimism is also echoed in our own offices this month, driven by our recent partnership with the World Bioenergy Association. Bioenergy Insight has

just been granted the exclusive responsibility of promoting the association’s groundbreaking portal Bioenergy Connect. Although development is still ongoing, the site can already be accessed and utilised at www. bioenergyconnect.net. We urge you to take a look. Be sure to read our industry outlook on page 32 to see if you agree with what is being said. There is no denying that 2013 will be another year on uncertainty and upheaval but, if those in the know are staying positive, that can only be a good sign. We wish you all the best for 2013 and look forward to working with you!

Best wishes, Margaret

Follow us on Twitter: @BioenergyInfo

Bioenergy Insight

January/February 2013 • 3


Bioenergy biomass news

Poland to house new biomass plant by end of 2014 Biomass-to-energy business DP Cleantech is to deliver a biomass power plant for the Polish Energy Partners (PEP). It is hoped the 30MW plant, to be fired with straw, will be operational within two years and cost $34.1 million (€25.6 million). It will be located in Winsko, south west Poland. ‘We are great admirers of what PEP is trying to achieve with biomass power in Poland,’ says DP Cleantech COO Krzysztof Dragon. ‘We hope to work together to develop further projects which build on a shared vision of the increasingly important role that biomass can play in Poland’s energy mix.’ ‘For this project,

The Polish plant will utilise straw to generate 30MW

longstanding practical experience and technical expertise in developing

enhanced solutions, backed up by proven technology, were key factors behind our

decision to work with DP Cleantech,’ adds PEP CEO Zbigniew Prokopowicz. l

Significant Biomass- and coal-derived biofuels set for new research regional support The US Department for Scandinavian of Energy (DOE) has agreed to work with biorefinery project the Southern Research Institute to test a method of creating liquid transportation fuels from coal and biomass.

The pair believes an approach, that eliminates the typical Fischer-Tropsch (FT) product upgrading and refining steps, will enhance the ability of coal-to-liquid (CTL) and coalbiomass-to-liquid (CBTL) processes to compete with petroleum-based ones. ‘We hope the project will advance CTL and CBTL processes by demonstrating a costeffective, novel FT catalyst that selectively converts syngas

4 • January/February 2013

derived from the gasification of coal and coal-biomass mixtures predominantly to gasoline and diesel range hydrocarbons, thereby eliminating expensive upgrading operations,’ Southern Research principal investigator Santosh Gangwal was quoted as saying. ‘We will evaluate the impact of adding moderate amounts of biomass to coal on CBTL products and process economics, and compare the carbon footprint of CBTL processes with petroleum-based fuel production processes.’ The Southern Research team includes research partners from Southern Company Services and clean energy provider Nexant. An existing demonstrationscale coal gasifier at the DOE’s National Carbon Capture Centre in Alabama is set to be used during the project. l

The Olvi Foundation (OF) has decided to join in the funding of Green Fuel Nordic’s (GFN) biorefinery project. The decision will represent one of the most significant capital investors into the biorefinery project according to OF CEO Timo Saarelainen. GFN has spent the last 12 months making different players more aware of bio-oil, its production, applications and benefits. Its board believes the investment commitment of a major capital investor in the project is a signal to all the other players of the strong intent to invest in the future of Scandinavia. ‘We will now continue with the next planning phase for the biorefineries; this phase will include strengthening the project organisation, recruiting key people, and other permit processes. We are currently experiencing a great industrial revolution and our journey to the future bio-economy society will continue to be at least as interesting as it has been so far,’ adds Saarelainen. l

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January/February 2013 • 5


Bioenergy biomass news

Biomass boost from Royal Bank of Scotland The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) is considering investing around £400 million (€467.8 million) into biomass projects throughout 2013. It is believed the bank is working on five deals which would support facilities which use feedstock like wood chips to generate heat and power. Each plant would be built from scratch and have a capacity of between 50MW and 150MW. This move towards biomass differs from

The investment will help UPM establish a biorefinery in France

UPM scoop investment for potential France-based biodiesel facility Finland-based bio and forestry business UPM has picked up a multi-million investment to aid the construction of a biorefinery in France. The European Commission has awarded a grant of €170 million ($222 million) as UPM earmark a wood waste-tobiodiesel facility based in Strasbourg. ‘This decision is recognition in regard to our knowledge in biofuels development work,’ says head of UPM Biofuels Petri Kukkonen. ‘The technology in this field continues to develop strongly and the experience we have gained from our other biorefinery project in Lappeenranta will help us bring this solid wood-based biorefinery to life.’ UPM believes the final assessment on the new project will take place over the next 12 to 18 months as it researches long-term wood availability and market prices, plus which way the EU will go on amendments to biofuels’ raw material-related directives. l

6 • January/February 2013

last year’s strategy which saw RBS invest most of its lending in solar and wind projects. ‘Biomass will occupy quite a lot of our time and effort this year,’ head of energy at RBS Andrew Buglass was quoted as saying. ‘It can make a material contribution to the generation mix. Financing for the larger biomass projects is likely to be finalized towards the end of the year.’ RBS has invested in biomass facilities before and worked with the likes of Helius Energy and Kedco over the past 12 months. l

USDA releases money to support biobased production Bioenergy and biobased product sectors have received a $10 million (€7.5 million) boost from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). The announcement was made by agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack, who also highlighted the growth potential in the automobile industry of bio-based products via research conducted by the Iowa State University USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture awarded the grants through its research initiative. Projects were awarded across four key areas: policy options for and impacts on regional biofuels production systems; impacts of regional bioenergy feedstock production systems on wildlife

and pollinators; environmental implications of direct and indirect land use change; and socioeconomic impacts of biofuels on rural communities. ‘The USDA and President Obama are committed to producing clean energy right here at home, to not only break our dependence on foreign oil, but also boost rural economies,’ Vilsack was quoted as saying. ‘These projects will give us the scientific information needed to support biofuel production and create coproducts that will enhance the overall value of a biobased economy. Today, with a strong and diversified US agricultural sector, the American automobile industry has a greater incentive for expanding use of bio-based products while supporting good-paying jobs here in the United States.’ l

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Bioenergy biomass news

New partnership to delve into efficient biofuels from non-food biomass A new $7 million (€5.3 million), five year biofuels collaboration has been signed this month.

International chemical company Johnson Matthey will work with the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) at producing economical drop-in petrol, diesel and jet fuel from non-food based biomass. ‘It’s a way of leveraging the expertise of two organisations to solve a pressing national and international problem,’

says NREL senior project leader for partnership development, Rich Bolin. Johnson Matthey has environmental and chemical facilities in over 30 countries and will develop and supply new catalytic materials to upgrade pyrolysis vapour to biofuels components. ‘The best outcome would be, in five years, to have a new catalytic process which can make petrol, diesel and jet fuel at a price range that is better than, or competitive with, the cost of existing fuels,’ adds Mark Nimlos, NREL research supervisor for molecular sciences. l

Biomass giant announces equity buyout Energy from waste company DP Cleantech has been subject of an equity buyout which has led to a change of ownership structure. The change comes as a result of an equity buyout led by longstanding CEO Simon Parker and is accompanied by a refinancing deal. ‘We are pleased to take full control of the company at such an exciting time for the industry, which we strongly believe is primed

for solid growth — most notably in annual crop residues where we have a strong position,’ says Parker. ‘Governments around the world are increasingly recognising the benefits of biomass as a complement to other renewable energy sources and, over the last few years, we have placed ourselves firmly in the market to work successfully with all stakeholders.’ DP CleanTech has headquarters in Denmark and China, where it is currently responsible for 50% of the biomass plants operating there today. l

Closed biomass plant to be given New Leaf of life New Leaf Energy (NLE) has set in motion plans to purchase a biomass plant which closed in 2011.

A letter of intent for the purchase of the Greenville Steam plant has been signed by NLE and it has claimed it will rehire around 20 employees that had been laid off after the closure. The plant, currently owned by Gallup Power Greenville, has the capacity to produce 120,000MW of power a year. ‘We intend to acquire the facility and return it to full operation as soon as possible,’ NLE CEO Daniel Haas has been quoted as saying. ‘Right now, assuming the deal is closed successfully, the restart date is scheduled for the start of 2013.’ NLE is working with IQ Venture Advisors to line up the funding required to acquire and restart the facility. l

8 • January/February 2013

News in brief

Companies combine to seek cleaner air Control systems provider TriMer and Enginuity Energy (EE) will work together to test the air emission quality of various biomass fuels. Both companies will share technologies and work out of EE’s research and development laboratory in Pennsylvania, where EE gasifies a range of high moisture and high ash content material. Tri-Mer will provide a filter system that is capable of removing NOx, acid gases and dioxins. ‘We are excited to be working with the technology leader in emissions control,’ EE chairman David Mooney was quoted as saying. ‘With the addition of Tri-Mer’s technology to our low emission gasifier, we aim to be able to guarantee our clients the cleanest emissions in the industry.’

New biomass facility approved in US A biomass project slated for construction near Truckee, US has been given the green light by the Placer County Planning Commission. Approval for the 2MW facility was awarded on 20 December and it will convert local wood biomass into gas to power turbines to produce electricity. The facility will be based over 11,000m2 and a further one acre area will be used for fuel storage. A contractor is due to be selected by the commission and its partners in due course.

Extra biomass support for Northern Ireland NEW LEVELS of support for renewable

energy have been announced by the Northern Ireland government. From 1 April, under a revised Northern Ireland Renewables Obligation, new large-scale biomass CHP plants are eligible for an additional six months support from the government. ‘The additional six month eligibility period for eligible biomass stations, which retains support at the current Renewables Obligation Certificates level until autumn 2015, provides certainty for investors in a technology which offers great potential in Northern Ireland,’ energy minister Arlene Foster says.

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January/February 2013 • 9


Bioenergy biomass news

European renewable consumption up by almost 1% Renewable energy watchdog for Europe, EurObserv’er, has calculated the final gross energy consumption for the 27 European member states. There has been an estimated rise of nearly 1% over 2011, which finished on 13.4%, compared to 2010 on 12.5%. The report believes the increase in renewable energy share across the 27 member states can be explained by the combination of a slightly higher gross consumption of final energy from renewable energy sources — 151.1

million tonnes of oil equivlant (mte) (against 148.6 mte in 2010), and by a significant decrease of the total gross final energy consumption of 1126.6 mte in 2011 (against 1184.6 mte in 2010). ‘Gross final energy consumption from renewable energy sources increased by 1.7% (+2.5 mte) whereas total gross final energy consumption decreased by -4.9% (-58.0 mte). This important decrease is the consequence of an exceptionally mild winter in Europe, which has contained the need for heating, and of a slowdown in economic activity,’ said an EurObserv’er statement. ‘The relatively small increase of renewable energy

Renewable energy usage is up in Europe

consumption in those 27 member states is due to a lower consumption of wood fuel and to a relatively small increase of biofuels consumption. It is not linked to the important

decrease of the European hydroelectricity production in 2011, since the calculations presented here are based on a normalised hydroelectricity production and not on effective production.’ l

Brussels grants millions to subsidise Dutch biomass and biofuels initiative A consortium is to use a multi-million euro grant to construct a largescale biomass refinery in the Netherlands. The companies involved are BioMCN, Siemens, Linde, and Visser and Smit Hanab, which received a €199 million NER300 grant to fund the project also known as Woodspirit. NER300 is a financing instrument, jointly managed by the European Commission (EC), European Investment Bank and member states, that provides

financial resources for large-scale innovative renewable energy projects. The Woodspirit partnership submitted the grant application to the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs back in February 2011, and BioMCN CEO Rob Voncken says they are all ‘proud’ to get a positive decision. ‘These grants clearly demonstrate the EC’s support for the availability of more sustainable biofuels and renewable chemical materials,’ Voncken adds. ‘This project will have an important positive impact on the reduction of CO2 emissions and on meeting the 2020 climate objectives.’

The refinery is set to produce biobased chemicals and biofuels via residues from both the forestry and wood processing industries. After a process of desiccation, reduction and torrefaction, the biomass is fed into a gasification plant. Here the biomass is converted into raw synthesis gas, better known as syngas. After cleaning, the syngas is converted into biomethanol. ‘Woodspirit delivers a significant contribution to the development of biofuels,’ says minister Kamp of Economic Affairs. ‘Moreover, the partnership will boost economic activity in the north of the Netherlands.’ l

Poland to welcome new biomass-fired facility Norway-based green energy producer Tergopower is developing a biomass-fired combined heat and power (CHP) plant in Poland. The plant, to be constructed in Lublin for a cost of around €140 million ($184.6 million), is set to have 40MW

10 • January/February 2013

capacity and will use various feedstocks, including wood and straw biomass, to be sourced from local farmers. Feedstock contracts for straw alone have been estimated by the company at €15 million ($19.7 million). Tergopower believes electricity production at the Lublin plant will offset 230,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year and construction is set to take around 18 months. l

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biomass news Bioenergy

Research continues into alternative feedstock for coal-fired plant US-based Portland General Electric (PGE) is delving deeper into alternative biomass sources to help replace coal at the Boardman power plant.

scaled-down apparatus at Washington State University. Of the 18, it has been decided that corn stover, wheat straw, poplar chips, special biomass sorghum and cow manure waste from digestion processes will be further tested. PGE believes the plant would need about 8,000 tonnes of biomass a day to power the generator, with giant cane leading the pack at this moment.

According to plant research and development director Wayne Lei, 18 different products have been tested in

Norwegian biomass projects get investment boost

‘Giant cane is set to be the anchor crop for this project,’ Lei was quoted as saying. ‘But, if other biomass proves usable, we could reduce the acreage needed. We have not explored prices yet, we’re just looking at how it all physically works.’ The Boardman plant has a power generating capacity of 550MW but remains the last coal-fired facility in the state of Oregon. l

New agreement set to boost biomass feedstock in China China-based Sino Bioenergy has completed a transaction to own a controlling stake in Huizhou Biotech.

Advanced biorefinery owner Borregaard has received a multimillion grant from the Research Council of Norway to further wood processing projects.

immediately for us,’ says Sino CEO Daniel McKinney. ‘We will have our own significant source of feedstock for refuse-derived waste products and fuel for the China market. With our patents behind this technology, we will anticipate being able to expand our production at Huizhou by 50% per year.’ Huizhou currently works over 380 hectares of farm land but this is set to expand to 1,334 in 2013 as both companies aim to rise feedstock figures to approximately 12,000 tonnes of biomass feedstock. l

déposé .

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Sino has spent $13.5 million (€10.1 The grant totals NOK30 million (€4 million) and will million) to acquire a 55% stake in be spread via projects over a three-year period. the research company, which will Borregaard won the investment after submitting produce around 3,000 tonnes of three applications for funding on projects within rice as biomass feedstock a year. the areas of lignin products for use in concrete, ‘This is a significant acquisition microfibrillar cellulose and new specialty that will start producing profit cellulose products. ‘We feel the grant from the Research Council is LANDIA PUMPS AND MIXERS recognition of the research and development work we have done so far, and a positive signal for continued focus on innovation in the wood processing area in Norway,’ says Borregaard CEO Per Sørlie. angemeld e nt Borregaard claims it t owns the world’s most n PaPetndeing advanced biorefinery which an ev me ldt . Br uses natural, sustainable raw materials to produce advanced and eco-friendly biochemicals, biomaterials and bioethanol that can replace oil-based products. It annually spends over NOK120 million on research Contact the World‘s Leading Manufacturer of us - Meet A, Heavy-Duty Chopper Pumps and Mixing Solutions and development and B D at A - with over 20 Years‘ Experience in the Biogas around 15% of turnover now stand ... Industry. comes from products that no. B1 LANDIA PUMPS AND MIXERS did not exist five years ago. l

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January/February 2013 • 11


Bioenergy biogas news

Germany to continue leading the biogas charge Research and consultancy firm GlobalData has revealed that supportive government policies will see Germany continue to dominate global biogas energy generation for the foreseeable future. According to its latest report, biogas power generation is forecast to increase from 18,244GWh in 2012 to 28,265GWh in 2025. The US, the second most productive biogas power producing country, is expected to increase generation from a more modest 2012 figure of 9,072GWh to 20,936GWh in the same timeframe. The new report says that the German government has been instrumental in developing the biogas

World domination: Germany will continue to lead the biogas-to-electricity market

electricity market in the country through the development and operation of agricultural methanisation plants. The key driver for the increase in biogas installations

is the Renewable Energy Sources Act which provides feed-in tariffs for projects. The act also provides support for the development of the biopower market in the form of bonuses

for biogas CHP plants. GlobalData forecasts moderate growth for the global biogas power market between 2012 and 2025, expecting it to climb from 50,516GWh to 130,321GWh. l

New algae-to-biogas plant to open in Belgium A new algal biotechnology pilot facility in Roeselare, Belgium is set to allow scientists to explore methods of treating wastewater with microalgae and new microalgal harvesting techniques. It is one of nine pilot sites across northwest Europe that will be constructed as part of the EnAlgae project. The project’s aim is to develop sustainable technologies for algal biomass production, bioenergy and greenhouse gas mitigation. It wants to stimulate the uptake of these next generation biofuel technologies and

12 • January/February 2013

eventually create marketplace products and services. The new facility is being built at the Aquaculture Practice Centre, which was chosen by scientists from Howest University College, one of the 19 EnAlgae partners working together across seven EU member states. ‘Our pilot facility will look specifically at how microalgal bacterial flocs can be used to treat wastewater, and then be harvested and anaerobically co-digested to biogas,’ says Howest project collaborator Sofie van der Hende. ‘It is the first facility of its kind in this region and has been made possible by the cooperation of our EnAlgae colleagues and the funds from the Flemish government and Province West-Flanders.’ l

Scientists will study algae biomass in the new pilot facility

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January/February 2013 • 13


Bioenergy biogas news

Biogas facility in Bristol first Germany to assist burgeoning Ukrainian to use food waste feedstock The first food waste to power plant in Bristol, UK bioenergy sector It is understood, through a statement made by its Federal Ministry of Environment, Germany is to assist Ukraine in developing its own bioenergy production this year. Ukrainian scientists outlined draft plans for new facilities that would convert agricultural waste into thermal power and biogas via German technology as ministry representative Jurgen Keinhorst revealed that Germany is considering investment into the projects. ‘The Ukraine-German scientific exchange goes back decades, but has intensified over the past few years to this point,’ Viktor Tymoshchuk, an expert in the department of engineering and machinery at the ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine, was quoted as saying. ‘There are 30 projects under consideration at this time.’ It is believed Ukraine currently produces around 700,000 tonnes of solid biomass a year, with a first wood pellet producing pilot plant unveiled in October 2012. l

opened this December.

The facility is operated by Geneco, a subsidiary of Wessex Water, with the anaerobic digestors provided by technology business Monsal. It took less than a year to construct and can generate 10GWh, enough power for almost 3,000 homes.

‘The opening of the food waste plant builds on our experience of using anaerobic digestion to treat sewage sludge and generate power,’ explains Geneco general manager Mohammed Saddiq. ‘Through this investment we will produce significantly more renewable energy, while also providing a sustainable solution for dealing with food waste which traditionally goes to landfill.’ l

Poland to get new biogas facility Netherlands-based engineering consultancy Grontmij has won a contract to design a new organic waste-to-energy facility in Poland.

The facility will be located in Bialystok and is hoped to produce 23 million cubic metres of biogas a year from biodegradable organic waste material. The contract is said to be worth about €2 million ($2.6 million) and will be handled by Grontmij’s Poland office. ‘The production of bio-products, especially from waste, is growing in importance throughout our key European markets and beyond,’ country MD of Grontmij in Poland Maciej Chrzanowski was quoted as saying. l

New facilities start up on either side of the US Two new biogas plants have been recently completed in the US, one in California and the other in Washington. Sacramento-based waste-topower business Cleanworld has brought online what it claims to be the country’s largest commercial-scale anaerobic digestion system. The system is set to convert 25 tonnes of food and organic

14 • January/February 2013

Agri Beef has installed a biogas plant at its beef processing facility

waste materials a day into electricity and renewable natural gas, with a further 30,000 tonne per year scaleup planned for January.

And beef producer Agri Beef has added a biogas plant to its beef processing facility in Toppenish, Washington to help power onsite operations.

Methane captured and processed in an anaerobic lagoon has replaced almost 20% of the facility’s natural gas needs. l

Bioenergy Insight


biogas news Bioenergy

New biogas plant in France moves forward Germany-based biogas plant manufacturer Weltec Power has been chosen to help bring a new project online in France. The company will work with engineering and development business Methaneo to establish a 500kW plant in Saint Varent, western France. Weltec has worked on five previous biogas projects in the country to date. ‘We decided to work with Weltec because it is capable of integrating our concepts into its biogas plants,’ Methaneo director Yann Mercier was quoted as saying. It is believed construction work is set to begin soon, with the plant feeding power into the national grid as soon as July 2013. Feedstock mentioned for use included various animal manure and grain residue. l

The WBA chooses Bioenergy Insight Bioenergy Insight has been appointed by the World Bioenergy Association

(WBA) with the exclusive responsibility of increasing awareness and industry involvement in its ground breaking portal BioenergyConnect. Due for official launch in May 2013, BioenergyConnect aims to make it easier to do business and communicate by bringing all areas of the bioenergy industry together into one user-friendly community. BioenergyConnect has been designed to be the premier future Global Bioenergy Networking website to facilitate companies and individuals to find and share news, reports or information and to find or promote services and products. Individuals can sign up for free to be a part of the network and promote/find investment opportunities or to create a discussion forum. Companies can sign up and get access to the full networking features available with the bonus of being able to upload UNLIMITED numbers of reports, whitepapers, news, video’s, photo’s, brochures, employee profiles, job opportunities, events, discussion topics, products and services. Although development is still ongoing, the site can already be accessed and utilised at www.bioenergyconnect.net. Companies wishing to take advantage of pre-launch membership discounts should contact Ms Anisha Patel at anisha@bioenergy-news.com or call +44 (0)203 551 5752. Special discounts are in place for Bioenergy Insight advertisers.

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13.09.12 11:43

January/February 2013 • 15


Bioenergy biogas news

UK biogas association slams ‘criminal’ energy strategy The Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association (ADBA) has responded to the UK government’s decision to allow drilling for shale gas to recommence. Energy secretary Ed Davey has agreed for energy company Cuadrilla to resume operations after drilling for shale gas was suspended in 2011 due to two related earthquakes. This follows a dismissive Gas Generation Strategy, which made no mention of anaerobic digestion or biogas, that was launched late in 2012. ‘It is criminal that the debate about unconventional gas risks excludes the best source we have: biogas from anaerobic digestion,’ says ADBA CEO Charlotte Morton. ‘Upgraded to biomethane it is already replacing fossil gas in the grid, and

Cuadrilla has been given the go ahead to reume drilling for shale gas

has the potential to meet 10% of the UK’s domestic gas demand. It is ultra-low carbon and has a range of positive environmental impacts, treating food

waste and supporting farming in the process. ‘The government should be putting green gas first, by giving long-term policy certainty to investors and

developers, and ensuring that policies such as local authority waste collections make as much organic material available for digestion as possible.’ l

Greener buses on the road in UK The public in both Suffolk and Norfolk, UK can now be ferried on a specially created bus route via the power of biogas. Anglian Bus, a division of the Go Ahead Group, is operating a fleet of 13 renewable energy powered single-deck buses, brought for a cost of £624,000 (€772,500), via new routes between Lowestoft and Norwich. Part of the UK government’s £3 million Green Bus Fund helped bring the project to fruition. ‘We are proud to say that we are the first company in the UK to implement carbon neutral gas buses onto our services as part of our strategy to drive energy further,’ Anglian Bus MD Andrew Pursey was quoted as saying. ‘By being on these buses, the public is helping to reduce Norfolk and Suffolk’s carbon footprint.’ Six of the fleet started work at the end of 2012, with the remainder due online in early 2013. l

16 • January/February 2013

Anglian Bus is dedicated to reducing its carbon footprint

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Bioenergy biopower news

News in brief New partnership seeks to further infiltrate Nordic energy market Independent European electricity services providers Markedskraft and Noble Group’s subsidiary Noble Clean Fuels (NCF) has announced the formation of a strategic partnership for the Nordic energy market. The partnership will combine Markedskraft’s portfolio management, physical optimisation and business analysis experience with NCF’s capabilities to offer bilateral trading and origination products. ‘We have been building a strong power trading operation in the Nordic market, and this partnership signals that we have ambitions plans to also become a leading provider as we feel Markedskraft complements our strengths,’ says Harald von Heyden, NCF’s head of Nordic Origination and Business Development.

Multi-million waste-to-energy plant bound for Ethiopia

Nova Scotia biomass power facility purchase complete North America-based energy company Emera has acquired Brooklyn Energy, a biomass electrical co-generation facility located in Nova Scotia. The $25 million (€18.8 million) transaction was completed alongside the government of Nova Scotia. ‘Brooklyn Energy and its employees are an important addition to our energy generation portfolio because they produce electricity in accordance with our strategy to generate clean, renewable energy for our customers,’ says Emera CEO Chris Huskilson. ‘The plant will continue to generate clean energy for Nova Scotians and provide a long-term market for local biomass suppliers.’ Brooklyn Energy is a 30MW facility that produces 173,000MWh a year and has a power purchase agreement with Nova Scotia Power. It is believed Brooklyn Energy’s 22 employees will continue to operate the facility. l

A first ever waste-to-energy facility in Ethiopia, Africa moved a step closer to realisation recently. The Ethiopian Electric Power has signed a contract with clean power supplier Cambridge Industries (CI) to construct a 50MW plant in Addis Ababa to the tune of $120 million (€91 million). CI has also been conducting feasibility studies throughout the country for future project plans, including places like Behar Dar and Jimma.

New bioenergy plant opens in Finland The Finnish minister of Agriculture and Forestry

Jari Koskinen inaugurated a new bioenergy heating plant in Lohja, Finland on 7 January. The plant, situated next to Metsä Group’s Kerto lumber mill, will produce an annual total of 160,000MWh of heat to the Lohja district heating network, with additional processed steam going into the neighbouring mill. More than 80% of the fuel consumed by the entire Group is wood-based so this bioenergy heating plant will help decrease the annual carbon dioxide emissions of the Kerto mill, and the Lohja area in general, by about 40,000 tonnes,’ says Metsä Group CEO Kari Jordan. The €17 million bioenergy plant is a joint venture split between Lohjan Energiahuolto Oy Loher (49%), Metsäliitto Cooperative (46%) and Ääneseudun Energia (5%). It was constructed by Lohjan Biolämpö Oy over a period of 18 months.

18 • January/February 2013

Cenovus increases carbon dioxide consumption via new purchase agreement A new agreement has been signed that will see Cenovus Energy purchase the carbon dioxide created by a new carbon capture and storage facility under construction by SaskPower. Cenovus will purchase the full volume of CO2, approximately 1 million tonnes per year, captured at the Saskatchewanbased facility and use it for enhanced oil recovery at a nearby project it operates on behalf of its partners. ‘This agreement is a major step toward increasing commercialisation of carbon capture and storage,’ says

SaskPower president Robert Watson. ‘This is confirmation that we are on the right track and that carbon capture and storage is a viable option for the continued use of coal for power generation.’ Cenovus expects to be ready to accept the CO2 when SaskPower’s integrated carbon capture and storage facility goes into commercial operation in April 2014. ‘Ensuring we have a consistent and adequate supply of CO2 is critical to maintaining and expanding our enhanced oil recovery project near Weyburn,’ says John Brannan, Cenovus executive VP. ‘This agreement provides us with a second reliable supply source of CO2 for our Saskatchewan operations.’ l

Bioenergy Insight


biopower news Bioenergy

EQM moves Argentinean biopower project gets backing energy company away from National Enarsa and Argentinabased business developer bioenergy Adenium are set to invest two biomass-fired power sector with inplants in South America. facility sale US environmental service provider EQM Technologies has completed the sale of a Texasbased biorefinery. The purchaser was Delek Renewables and the price was $5.5 million (€4.1 million), of which EQM has used around $2 million to pay off unpaid principal and accrued interest on subordinated notes secured by the assets and sold in the transaction. ‘We are pleased to have closed this transaction, as we have achieved value for our stockholders and have improved our balance sheet,’ says EQM president James Wendle. Following the sale, Wendle reveals EQM is to step away from the bioenergy sector and focus on providing environmental services. l

The amount of investment is reported to be ARP1.25 billion (€189.7 million) and both 100MW facilities will be constructed in Formosa, north east Argentina. It is hoped all feedstock will be provided by local businesses as each facility will need about 750,000 tonnes of biomass to produce approximately 50% of the province’s power requirement. l

Two 100MW biomass-fired power plants are under development in Argentina

Steam turbine delivered to new Berlin biopower facility A $275 million (€211.3 million) biopower plant under construction in Berlin, Germany has taken delivery of a new 132 tonne steam turbine. Japanese company Fiji provided the turbine to the Burgess Biopower plant, which will be owned by UK-based technology developer Cate Street Capital and built

by Babcock and Wilcox Construction. The plant is expected to come online by the end of 2013 and use 750,000 tonnes of woodchips a year to generate around 75MW of electricity to the New Hampshire Public Service under a 20-year agreement. A subsidiary of Delta Power Services has been offered the chance to operate and maintain the facility on a six-year, $19 million contract. It has been estimated that the plant will create 40 permanent jobs and contribute $25 million to the local economy. l

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January/February 2013 • 19


Bioenergy biopellet news

Drax Biomass expands pellet business in US Drax Biomass International is to plan for three projects in the Gulf region.

It expects to begin construction of two pellet manufacturing plants in Louisiana and Mississippi, as well as storage and loading facilities at the Port of Greater Baton Rouge, during the first half of 2013. The manufacturing facilities, Amite BioEnergy in Mississippi and Morehouse BioEnergy in Louisiana, are expected to start full operations in 2014 with a

combined capacity to produce 900,000 tonnes of biomass pellets annually using fibre from sustainably-managed forests. Economic development agencies in each state provided financial incentives to attract Drax to invest in their locations. ‘The broad government, community and industry support provided by both states reflects the collaborative and cooperative manner in which we plan to expand our business in the US,’ says Ken Budreau, senior VP of development at Drax Biomass. The Greater Baton Rouge facility will

Wood pellet company expands footprint and export capacity US-based Enova Wood Pellet Group has signed a long-term port agreement as it looks to solidify its presence in Georgia and South Carolina. The deal was inked with Georgia Kaolin Terminals (GKT) and will provide Enova with enough capacity to export up to 1.35 million tonnes of wood pellets via the facility in Savannah. GKT is a subsidiary of the Colonial Group.

‘This is a milestone for Enova to partner with a world class terminal operator such as Colonial because it will enable us to export the largest quantity of wood pellets through a single port facility in the Southeast,’ says VP of Enova logistics and transportation, Mark Newhart. ‘The terminal will provide a steady source of income and add new jobs to the community.’ This comes while Enova is also developing a network of three wood pellet production plants in both South Carolina and Georgia. l

Atlanta calling: Enova Wood Pellet Group is aggressively targeting the US states of Georgia and South Carolina

20 • January/February 2013

be able to store approximately 80,000 metric tonnes of biomass pellets. It will be designed to accommodate pellet deliveries by both rail and truck and is expected to be operational in 2014. ‘This is an exciting step,’ adds Drax Biomass CEO, Chuck Davis. ‘With Louisiana’s and Mississippi’s support, we look forward to moving these projects through development and into construction. We are focused on building and operating clean, safe manufacturing facilities that will support local economies, create long-term jobs and interface with local forest industries.’ l

Europe set to welcome biomass from Canada Canada-based Vega Biofuels (VB) is to ship samples of its torrefied pellet product to European power companies for testing. The EU is home to the world’s largest regional energy market and accounts for one-fifth of the world’s energy use and European power companies have been mandated to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 20% by the year 2020. VB believes Europe’s biomass resources are relatively small and unable to provide the necessary woody biomass to meet that mandate, but its biocoal solution could help solve that problem. ‘The first step in marketing our product is to allow clients to do laboratory testing,’ says VB CEO Michael Molen. ‘We are now able to provide the necessary samples of our product to perspective clients for testing. This is a huge step for our us and, once the lab testing is completed, the next step is to provide enough product to be processed through their existing fossil coal handling chain.’ l

Bioenergy Insight


biopellet news Bioenergy

Biomass demand to exponentially increase in Europe by 2020 New research by global management and consultancy business Bain points to increased wood pellet demand by Europe for electricity production by 2020. As governments begin to subsidise greener energy sources to reach continental targets, the report puts

Europe is expected to need 29 million tonnes of wood pellets by 2020

European pellet demand at 29 million tonnes by the end of the decade, up from 8 million from 2010. Pellets can be included in positive environmental policies as they produce no net carbon emissions when

burnt for power generation. The report believes that 66% of those pellets will have to be imported however, mainly from places like North America and Brazil. Despite Europe importing a large proportion of its

pellets already, Bain analysts warn against ‘putting all its eggs into one basket’. It is believed the amount of electricity produced worldwide from biomass will rise around 9% per year up to 2020. l

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Bioenergy Insight

BUILDING EQUIPMENT THAT CREATES OPPORTUNITIES

January/February 2013 • 21


Bioenergy technology news

Martin Engineering launches conveyor belt cleaner A new powered brush cleaner for conveyor belt applications has been introduced by bulk materials handling company Martin Engineering. The Martin Brush Cleaner includes a rotating design that removes material accumulation and dust in various applications. It is well suited to belts that use raised elements (cleats, chevrons, ribs or lugs) to assist in carrying material. Martin Engineering says the system is an economical solution that provides highperformance, energy-efficient operation, even in conditions involving sticky materials or stringy fibres such as biomass. The 230/460-volt, three-phase electric motor provides cleaning with minimal power consumption. A one horsepower motor powers the units for 18-42” belts and a two horsepower motor drives the cleaners for 48-96” belts. The motor can be operated in either direction, and the unit can be installed on the left or right side of the cleaner, depending on the plant’s requirements. The cleaner is constructed from durable steel and stainless steel components, ensuring long-service life

The Martin Brush Cleaner is suitable for biomass applications

even in harsh operating environments. It is easy to install and maintain. Two bristle pattern options are available to accommodate materials with a range of moisture contents. For both models, standard polypropylene bristles offer an operating temperature

from -29ºC to 82ºC, and optional bristles are available for higher temperatures. The brush belt cleaner’s bristles are wrapped in a spiral pattern, effectively cleaning dry materials that can cling and cause build-up on the shaft of conventional brush cleaners. l

New biomass research lab opened in Far East

Biomass co-firing contract awarded in Germany

A new laboratory to develop technologies to produce high-value chemicals from biomass has opened in Singapore.

Germany-based biomass technology provider Saxlund International has won a multi-million pound contract to supply a new biomass handling system as part of a coal-fired plant conversion.

The Metabolic Engineering Research Laboratory was officially opened by the Institute of Chemical and Engineering Sciences (ICES) in December and will design and drive factories that can produce cost-efficient wastes. ‘Most of the world’s current chemicals and chemicalbased products are derived from crude oil. Eco-friendly processes for the next generation of chemicals and materials are required,’ says ICES executive director Keith Carpenter. ‘The possibility of creating a new value chain, deriving materials and chemical products from biomass and through the integration of biological and chemical sciences, with novel techniques and know-how, is definitely an exciting prospect.’ l

22 • January/February 2013

Saxlund, a subsidiary of Opcon, was awarded the £2.35 million (€2.9 million) contract just before the end of 2012 to help convert a power plant in Berlin

into a biomass co-firing concern. The contract will see Saxlund provide both internal and external handling systems by the end of 2013. ‘We expect more of these kinds of project in order to increase the renewable element in Germany’s power production. By building on existing infrastructure and adding a biomass co-firing element to fossil-fueled power plants, there is much to be gained both from an environmental and economic perspective,’ says Saxlund MD Christoph Groffmann. l

Bioenergy Insight


technology news Bioenergy

Camelina research receives funding for bioenergy and biofuels The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded a multimillion grant to a team of researchers looking at the potential of camelina as a biofuel feedstock. The team, led by Kansas State University professor of grain science and industry Xiuzhi Sun, has received just over $5 million (€3.7 million) and also comprises of researchers from Montana State University, University of Wyoming, StrathKirn, SBT, Montana Gluten Free and Henkel. ‘Although camelina is currently grown in Montana and Wyoming, it

will expand to the Northern Great Plains area, and it’s possible that agricultural producers in Kansas might be interested in incorporating the crop into their cropping systems in the future,’ Sun says. Once harvested and processed, Sun hopes to develop new technologies to chemically convert camelina oil and meal to a variety of adhesives, coatings and composites. ‘The overall goal is to make oilseed camelina a cost-effective bioenergy and bio-based product feedstock,’ she adds. ‘This project will generate information that will build a foundation to make non-food oilseeds a better resource for biofuels, chemicals and bioproducts, with minimal negative impact on food crop systems or the environment.’ l

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Bioenergy Insight

CIAT dehumidifier wins award Heating, cooling and air handling solution provider CIAT’s dehumidification system has been awarded second prize for technological innovation. The Drypack solution protects biogas installation by reducing corrosion and damage caused by impurities, but at the same time increases the installation’s performance. It is available in three versions, meeting all the requirements of biogas dehumidification: Drypack One (up to 800Nm3/hr), Drypack Flex (up to 2,500Nm3/ hr) and Drypack Plus (up to 6,000Nm3/hr). The prize was awarded at the Expobioenergia exhibition, held in Valladolid, Spain, where CIAT was also acknowledged for ‘the constant efforts made in promoting sustainable development, reducing the use of natural resources and protecting the environment’. l

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January/February 2013 • 23


Bioenergy technology news

New bioheat plant coming to Leppävirta Finland-based technology supplier Metso is to fulfil a biomass-fired heating plant order from energy company Savon Voima Oyj in Leppävirta. The new plant will help the municipality of Leppävirta reduce its consumption of oil by increasing its district heat generation by 8MW via renewable sources, such as forest residue and peat. The order value for this project was put at around €9 million. ‘We want to be a part in advancing Savon Voima’s sustainable projects that use domestic fuel,’ says Metso bioheat plant sales

Artist’s impression of the new heating plant

manager Teemu Koskela. ‘We will supply a plant which will reduce the use of

fossil fuels and provide an energy efficient solution for district heat production.’

Metso hopes the plant will be online before the end of this year. l

Sign up now to receive your FREE weekly newsletter providing up-to-date information on acquisitions, mergers, new terminals and the latest regulations: www.tankstoragemag.com/tsm_newsletter.html If you would like your company’s name to feature in this please contact margaret@tankstoragemag.com (+44 (0)20 8687 4126)

24 • January/February 2013

Bioenergy Insight


technology news Bioenergy

TGP appoints consortium for new power facility Tilbury Green Power (TGP) has appointed a consortium of Burmeister and Wain Scandinavian Contractor (BWSC) and Aalborg Energie Technik (AET) as its supplier for the first phase of its power generation facility at the Port of Tilbury, Essex. The first phase will generate 30MW of electricity and will be fuelled by recovered wood. Following completion of the second phase of the project TGP will be able to produce up to 60MW of

electricity, enough to power around 100,000 homes. TGP received planning permission for the power facility in 2009 and has consent to use up to 650,000 tonnes of fuel per year, including solid recovered fuel and biomass fuel from virgin and recovered wood. TGP’s plant is expected to be operational by the end of 2015. BWSC is a global provider of tailor-made turnkey power plant solutions and, over the past 30 years, has supplied over 160 power plants to 50 countries with a total capacity exceeding 3,000MW. AET designs and supplies biomass-fired steam boiler plants. l

UK energy cooperative brings biomass boiler technology to market Biomass Energy Cooperative has introduced its new multi-feed biomass boiler to the UK market. The cooperative says it expects the new MultiBio boiler to extend the possibilities for biomass energy generation by burning olive pits, straw pellets and locally sourced waste from agricultural work, as well as traditional wood fuel. The MultiBio was developed in the Czech Republic and features a burn chamber that has been designed to handle cereals and waste

from agricultural and energy crops, in addition to traditional biomass wood fuel. The Biomass Energy Cooperative brought the unit to the UK and rebranded it MultiBio. It is available in a range of sizes, suitable for small businesses through to largescale industrial installations. It carries the European approval EN303-5 and has achieved exemption under the Smoke Control Act 1993. The system is fitted with a new burning chamber which is designed to burn multi-fuel agri-pellets. It has a low emissions output and high boiler efficiency of between 89-92%. l

Malaysian bioeconomy set to benefit from new hub Malaysia-based developer of a dedicated biotechnology park and ecosystem, Malaysian Bio-XCell, has unveiled its new Central Hub facility to support the country’s Bioeconomy Transportation Programme. Based in Johor, the Central Hub will serve as the focal point in the BioXCell biotechnology park, acting as a catalyst for a biotechnology ecosystem

in Iskandar Malaysia. The complex comprises of a business building, a science building and an auditorium to provide an environment that supports the development of a biotech community. ‘We hope to engage with many of the companies exploring a location for their operations in this region. We feel our Central Hub is an ideal location for MNCs and upcoming SMEs to foster cooperative relationships within the industry,’ says Malaysian Bio-XCEll CEO Rizatuddin Ramli. The project is set to cost around RM44.7 million (€11.1 million) and is

expected to be completed by Q3 2013. A proposal has also been signed between Malaysian BiotechCorp, Malaysian Bio-XCell and Worldwide Medivest, a new medical device manufacturing company, to explore the potential development of a hub for the so-called Southern Corridor for Medivest’s products and services. The agreement will also explore the construction of an ethylene gas sterilisation facility and training centre, in collaboration with potential business partners. l

The business that considers itself immune to the necessity for advertising sooner or later finds itself immune to business Derby Brown Bioenergy Insight

January/February 2013 • 25


Bioenergy technology news

Technology enables efficient disposal of toxic sludge Sewage recycling system manufacturer Applied CleanTech is to install around 200 of its sewage recycling units across wastewater treatment facilities in Slovenia and Croatia, after signing agreements with entrepreneurs from the two nations. The sludge buildup as a wastewater byproduct in these countries is currently transported to Austria for

Bandit partners with Southwest Bobcat Biomass size reduction equipment manufacturer Bandit Industries has partnered with Southwest Bobcat to provide its parts and service support at five Bobcat locations across southern California and Nevada. Additionally, Southwest Bobcat will also stock and sell Zenith knives and Bandit Revolution stump grinding wheels/ teeth for most chipper and stump grinder models. Bandit says the two companies will work together to meet the needs of its customers and tree service professionals throughout the Southwest. Bobcat has locations in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, Riverside and Las Vegas. l

26 • January/February 2013

incineration, due to lack of a better solution — thereby incurring high treatment costs. Applied CleanTech’s new technology will enable Slovenia and Croatia to transform their sewage wastewater into high-quality raw materials for the global plastics and paper industry, and lessen the load on regional wastewater treatment plants by some 35%. The value of the transaction is estimated at over €10 million over the next five years. The technology is implemented in an automatic facility which recycles raw sewage solids and transforms them into high energy products through a continuous process. At

the end of the process, the sewage solids are converted into a clean raw material with high energy potential. The company’s development was designed to solve the problems of sewage treatment, much of which is either sent to landfill or for incineration, or disposed of via the sewers to wastewater treatment facilities. Raw sewage entering the treatment facility contains and oils and toxic compounds. Treatment of all these requires great energy investment, numerous chemicals and a solution for the sludge produced as a byproduct. Today, sludge constitutes one of the most acute environmental problems globally. l

LC Energy acquires Harvest Wood LC Energy, sustainable wood fuel supplier, has acquired Harvest Wood Fuels’ bulk pellet business, a supplier of high-grade wood pellets based in Surrey, UK. Mark Lebus, MD of LC Energy, says: ‘Harvest Wood Fuels has built a reputation

for supplying sustainably sourced pellets to customers across the region and this responsible approach chimes with our own. In bringing the two companies together, we feel we will be able to grow the market for wood fuel energy across the board.’ Harvest Wood Fuels sources its premium pellets from local producers who use local woodland management arisings as a raw material. l

Mettler Toledo introduces module for safe weighing to 100 tonnes Weighing large tanks, vessels and silos presents safety challenges, and weigh modules can be difficult to install, which can take time and add costs. Mettler Toledo has introduced its new Pinmount weigh module that offers manufacturers an opportunity to convert such structures into high-capacity scales, even in harsh environments and classified hazardous areas. The models in

the Pinmount weigh module family weigh from 7.5 to 100 tonnes. Pinmount weigh modules can be integrated onto existing structures and provide important SafeLock safety features. Those features simplify the installation of tanks, silos and conveyor scales, and can prevent accidents and ensure efficient installation. While environmental conditions such as wind forces and seismic activity can cause tanks, vessels and silos to tip over, the Pinmount’s dual antilift devices and vertical downstops prevent such damage or component failure, protecting profits and lives.l

Bioenergy Insight


technology news Bioenergy

Strain Systems unveils subscription-based silo monitoring service

Diffenbacher signs cooperation agreement

Strain Systems, a provider of storage silo monitoring technology, now offers single silo and silo farm managers a continuous weight and level measurement.

Germany-based plant supplier Diffenbacher and Carmanah Design and Manufacturing, based in Canada, have signed a cooperation agreement for the supply of stranding equipment.

With mysilo.info, Strain Systems installs, calibrates and maintains its Solo or Ensemble product hardware at the customer’s plant. The customer monitors inventory on-site or remotely by logging into a website account that displays all his silos on one screen. ‘This subscription service is an

extension of our “data anytime, anywhere” strategy,’ says Kennan Yilmaz, president of Strain Systems. ‘Now customers have the option of either buying the equipment or subscribing to mysilo.info.’ The system can monitor an unlimited number of silos at multiple locations. Access rights may be granted to third parties to perform certain operational tasks and additional accounts can be created with varying access rights. An optional service will send ‘low material quantity’ alerts to vendors for justin-time inventory management. l

Under the agreement, Carmanah will supply Diffenbacher with its Disc and Ring Stranding systems, for use within the engineered wood applications outside of North America. The cooperation agreement between the two companies will cover Europe, Asia, Australia, New Zealand and South America. l

Metso develops online corrosion management solution Process technology supplier Metso has developed a new solution to minimise fouling and corrosion during the combustion of recycled wood and solid recovered fuel in a boiler. Metso says its new corrosion management solution reduces the corrosion of furnace walls, surperheaters and economisers, risks associated with using

cheaper, lower quality fuels. The company’s work started with superheater corrosion management and has plans to expand the solution to other boiler parts. Jaani Silvennoinen of Metso says: ‘Until now, it has been possible only to monitor temperature and pressure differences in the boiler, and the boiler has been run with just minimal dynamic information about possible corrosion problems. Our solution provides more information about what is

taking place inside the boiler.’ An integral part of the corrosion management is the CorroRed analyser. Located in the flue gas pass, it measures online total chlorine and effective sulphur concentration from the flue gas. It also calculates the flue gas S/CI ration for corrosion risk and rate evaluation. There are two alternatives available to plant operators. The first one manipulates the conditions in the superheater area with the CorroStop sulphate injection

system. This injects ferric or aluminum sulphate to the upper furnace upstream of the superheater to mitigate high‐temperature corrosion. The second alternative is to change the fuel mix and co-fire with peat or coal. UPM utilises the CorroStop additive at its Caledonian Paper Mill in the UK and has experienced positive results. The 90 MWth BFB boiler runs on biomass, such as bark, woodchips and forest residues in co-combustion with recycled wood. l

The man who stops advertising to save money is like the man who stops the clock to save time Thomas Jefferson

Bioenergy Insight

January/February 2013 • 27


Bioenergy green page

Can these trees be Poplar as bioenergy feedstock? Researchers at Clemson University and commercial forestry business ArborGen are to jointly study the potential use of poplar trees for bioenergy and biofuels feedstock in the US. The South Carolina-based project will see the pair plant thousands of poplar trees on-site at the university’s Pee Dee Centre. ArborGen’s southeastern field research manager David Brown says that positive results from this study would give landowners another market for their crops. ‘Clemson’s Pee Dee Centre

‘Great promise’: poplar trees could be an effective raw material for biofuels

plays a vital role developing bioenergy markets by growing a variety of bioenergy feedstock,’ Brown adds. ‘In the case of this project, we are working to determine the absolute best tree for bioenergy and have it available to South Carolina forest landowners.’ He explains that four species of poplar were planted

a year ago and ‘are now over 20ft tall and showing some great promise’. Brown and Clemson crop physiologist Jim Frederick also planted 690 varieties of Populus nigra last month — also known as the black poplar — as they continue to learn which varieties are best suited as both bioenergy

The gift that keeps on giving Christmas trees are again set to be renewed as energy in Lithuania, according to local news reports. Residents across 12 major cities will have the opportunity to drop their trees in specially marked containers, after which the trees will be used for both biofuel

and heat for housing projects. This is the seventh year the campaign has run for a week in January. ‘The campaign gets more popular every year, so it shows that people’s awareness is growing and fewer Christmas trees are simply thrown away,’ organiser of the campaign Saulius Budrevicius was quoted as saying. l

stock and as base for making hybrids with P. deltoides, the local eastern cottonwood that grows in the US. ‘Interest in bioenergy as a whole is the basis for the partnership,’ says Frederick. ‘There’s no big grant involved — just two groups working together for a common cause.’ l

Top BI Tweets Here is a selection of interesting things from our Twitterverse! (#bioenergyinfo) Delta Biogas I suppose horse meat will be on its way to an AD plant somewhere today?! Richard Benyon EU meeting in Feb vital if CFP reforms agreed in 2012 are to survive unscathed. Worried some countries trying to water down ending discards Greg Barker Another big day ahead, will be launching our National Energy Efficiency Mission pulling together all our EE policies into one ambitious whole! US Energy Department SuperBowl fact: New Orleans’ Superdome features 26,000 LED lights that only draws 10kW of electricity Biogas Maxx 50MW of approval guarantee of green energy project in Ontario doesn’t seem to be enough due soaring interest of public Annika Herter Loving the new ‘I love biogas’ badge I got today!

Lose the bling first: christmas trees are recycled in Lithuania

28 • January/February 2013

Planet Biogas Using biogas is a step toward a hydrogen-based society and sustainable waste treatment.

Bioenergy Insight


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

Location

Company

Incident information

29/01/13

Kirkby, Merseyside, UK

Sonae

Sonae has admitted liability for a vast fire which broke out at its Kirkby-based woodchip production plant in 2011. According to reports, around 10,000 people are threatening action against Sonae claiming they suffered health problems as a result of the blaze and the pollution it emitted. The fire at the plant burned for eight days in 2011, injuring firefighters and employees.

20/01/13

Ahoskie, North Carolina, US

Enviva Pellets

Production at the Enviva Pellets Ahoskie plant temporarily ceased following a small fire. Ahoskie Fire Department was called to the scene. No one was injured in the incident and, according to Enviva spokesperson Elizabeth Woodoworth, damage to the plant was minimal. The facility resumed operations shortly after the fire was extinguished. Ahoskie’s Fire Chief Ken Dilday said the plant’s fire suppression system helped control the blaze, which was contained to the hopper area of the mill. The fire team had reportedly left the scene by 2.40am.

15/01/13

Maharashtra, India

Solapur Bioenergy

Two people died following an explosion at Solapur Bioenergy’s biogas factory. A third person was critically injured on the site of the under construction facility on the outskirts of the town. The source of the explosion has been attached by local police to some drilling and welding work near a cement tank which caused a gas leak. It has been reported by local news sources that the police will register a case against the company for causing death by negligence under the Indian Penal Code.

08/01/13

Dubuque, Iowa, US

A fire broke out in a large woodchip pile on the Dubaque landfill in Iowa. The blaze continued to smolder on 10 January, despite fire officials believing they had already successfully extinguished it. The woodchips were derived from trees that were removed to make room for the newest section of the landfill.

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January/February 2013 • 29


Bioenergy regulations The US Farm Bill needs to be re-evaluated for energy concerns according to two major coalitions

Funding for rural energy independence wanted

T

he Agriculture Energy Coalition (AEC) has been lobbying the US Congress to begin work on a new five-year Farm Bill that pays particular attention to robust mandatory funding for energy programmes. The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, passed at the turn of the year, extended the 2008 Farm Bill in simple form only which meant there was no funding for energy title programmes including the Rural Energy for America Programme (REAP), Biomass Crop Assistance Programme (BCAP), Biorefinery Assistance Programme (BAP) and Biobased Markets Programme (Biopreferred). AEC voiced concerns that all those listed, which have helped create jobs and economic growth in rural America, develop new agricultural markets and improve farmers’ and ranchers’ energy self-sufficiency, are now redundant. ‘Farm energy programmes have paid a tremendous return for rural Americans, in terms of new jobs, investments in new energy efficiency, bioenergy technology and new biobased products,’ says AEC co-director Lloyd Ritter. ‘Economic growth and job opportunities in rural America are at risk without a renewal of funding for these effective programmes.’ The AEC, a membershipbased consortium of organisations and companies that represent a broad

30 • January/February 2013

spectrum of clean, renewable energy and bioproduct stakeholders, broke down some of the past benefits that it attributes to the Farm Bill energy programmes: • Assisted 6,600 projects, which employed 15,000 people, that generate or save more than 7.3 billion kWh of electricity — enough to power 680,000 US homes annually • Backed advanced biorefineries across nine states in negotiating $750 million (€562.3 million) in private construction loans • Helped more than 860 crop growers and landowners in

as many as 700,000 jobs and $88.5 billion in economic activity for rural America’ adds Ritter. ‘Last year, House and Senate Agriculture Committee leaders reached bipartisan agreement to provide strong funding for the programmes and continue the progress already achieved. We urge Congress to renew that agreement.’ Picking out the positives The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) has also expressed disappointment in what it calls, via a statement, an

“The NSAC adds the Farm Bill extension deal reached is a disaster for farmers and the American people” 188 counties across 12 states put nearly 59,000 underused acres back into production • Improved consumer education and choice by labelling 900 certified bio-based products • Identified more than 25,000 bio-based products made by 3,100 companies that employ nearly 100,000 people • Provided matching funding to 46 research and development projects in 24 states. ‘Within the next decade, we believe farm energy programmes could generate

‘awful Farm Bill extension within the Fiscal Cliff Deal’. ‘It is anyone’s guess as to how this debate will proceed from here,’ the NSAC statement read. ‘A fiscal deal has been reached, but Congress punted on a number of key issues that it will have to address soon. For agriculture, there are a number of unknowns that will shape the 2013 Farm Bill debate.’ The NSAC adds that the Farm Bill extension deal reached is ‘a disaster for farmers and the American people’, essentially calling the decision

‘blatantly anti-reform’. ‘Many smaller, targeted programmes to fund farm and food system reform and rural jobs were completely left out, along with any workable dairy policy or disaster aid for livestock and fruit producers for the next year,’ the statement continues. ‘The deal also has the effect of keeping farmers from being able to improve soil and water conservation through enrolment in the Conservation Stewardship Programme at this present time.’ The NSAC does highlight what it perceives as one bright spot however, which is the nine month extension of all basic authorities in the 2008 Farm Bill that ‘allows US Department of Agriculture to restart programmes that have ongoing baseline funding but that have, since 1 October 2012, lacked authority to spend the money’. That list includes programmes, such as the Wetlands Reserve and the Grassland Reserve, that still have a modest amount of funding left over from the 2008 Farm Bill: ‘It also includes the likes of the Seniors Farmers Market Nutrition and the Specialty Crop Block Grant that have permanent funding, but for the past three months have not had spending authority,’ NSAC adds. Approval of the simple farm bill extension now means that Congress will have to start the process of reauthorising a new, full five-year farm bill from scratch. l

Bioenergy Insight


regulations Bioenergy A healthy long-term heat incentive is needed more than ever by the UK, says solicitor Ben Halfpenny

Renewable rollercoaster

T

wo important UK government consultations closed in December 2012 relating to the future of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). The first was aimed at growing and improving the nondomestic scheme, while the second focused on expanding the RHI to benefit domestic homeowners and landlords. A successful outcome of the consultations will provide a shot in the arm to the renewables sector and help deliver the green growth that is heralded so often as making perfect economic and environmental sense. The risk is that the RHI becomes burdened with uncertainty and excessive regulation. This will further stifle an already difficult market by causing funders to use more tried and tested investment strategies. Up and down

The RHI was originally launched by the government two years ago as a new means of contributing to the UK’s demand for heat through the use of renewable sources, including biomass boilers, heat pumps and solar thermal panels. The first phase of the scheme was restricted to heat users in the industrial, commercial and public sectors. With the latest consultation, the intent is for the subsidy to open up to the mass domestic market. This extension of the scheme is designed to decrease costs and increase innovation in home-based renewable heat technology and represents a key strand of the government’s overarching Heat Strategy. By incentivising individual

Bioenergy Insight

intentioned in its attempts at fiscal stimulus in this sector but there is a difficult financial and political balance to be struck. If the subsidy is too low, take-up will be too and the RHI will fail to achieve its primary purpose. If it is too high, the government will be forced into subsequent cutbacks or will be required to limit the scheme due to higher than expected costs. Harsh reality

homeowners and landlords to produce their own renewable heat, the scheme intends to decrease the UK’s reliance on non-renewable sources and improve overall energy security. The original purpose behind the RHI was to stimulate growth in the renewable heat sector in order to help the UK meet its target of producing 15% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. But the RHI has met mixed success thus far and a key purpose of the recent consultations is to improve the long-term efficiency and viability of the scheme in order to stimulate further take-up. Stripped back A key issue that has held back investment in the non-domestic sector is uncertainty surrounding subsidy tariffs and concern they are likely to be reduced over time with little or no notice provided. Whether the recent consultations alleviate the concerns of investors or

merely add to them will be key to future RHI success. From our experience, the most common reaction to the consultations has been underlying concern that the true incentive behind the scheme (i.e. the value of the subsidy) will be stripped back to a point whereby its incentivising effect was lost. Further concerns are based around the tariffs becoming shrouded in caveats and uncertainty turning funders away from projects in the non-domestic sector. Now, more than ever, banks are also turned off by the prospect of low, unsecured returns in a sector which is characterised as high-risk and subsidy-dependent. Two positive conditions would be having committed partners on board that understand the parameters and viability of their chosen technology, and that a development site with appropriate planning permission is in place. There seems little doubt that the government is well

This dilemma of providing long-term tariff security, in the face of uncertain demands by a developing market and a finite pot of cash, will be a key issue for the government to address through the consultation process. How this dilemma is addressed in practice is certainly what this sector will be looking for when the outcomes become known later this year. The reality is that the majority of projects will rely on the RHI in order to establish economic viability. It is therefore imperative that the outcome of the consultations is a sustainable and long-term plan which provides definitive parameters in relation to tariff levels (if not definitive tariffs themselves). This will allow both developers and homeowners to be sure of the business case for a project from the outset which, in turn, will provide a solid platform to secure further inward investment into the sector. l For your information:

Ben Halfpenny is an associate in the energy team at solicitors Dickinson Dees. The firm specialises in legal and regulatory matters relating to energy, waste and the environment. www.dickinson-dees.com

January/February 2013 • 31


Bioenergy global outlook Now that the New Year has officially begun, Bioenergy Insight gets the thoughts of some immersed in the industry to see what the next 12 months may hold in store

2013 global outlook Biomass is best

Global round-up

Frank Scholdaan Lund Sales manager, Aalborg Energie Technik Headquarters: Denmark

Vaughan Bassett VP sales and logistics, Pinnacle Pellets Headquarters: Canada

We expect the medium- to large-size biomass plant industry will continue to increase on a long-term basis as the power infrastructure in many countries is far behind the needed investment level, plus conversion from nuclear and coal towards renewable is set to happen Biomass is the best way to supply continuous steam and power when compared to solar and wind, and a stable energy supply is needed for power production to both private and public houses and steam to industries. With that in mind, we expect the European biomass sector will experience a positive increase for demand on a short-term basis throughout many countries, although it may not happen in some Mediterranean-based countries that struggle with limited budgets. Furthermore, we do think that the potential for combined heat and power for many industries is a feasible possibility. Depending on the country and its logistics, we feel there will be two major feedstock trends this year: bountiful fresh wood (which cannot be used for industrial purpose); and forest residues from sawmills plus, in many countries, a lot of demolition wood which is basically being wasted. In case of combustion, a

Lund believes there will be two main feedstock trends this year

lot of oil and gas could be saved using those. The users and producers of the biomass sector have not been promoting and lobbying the industry heavily when compared to the wind sector, for example. Many countries would most likely welcome one common voice aimed at the politicians, as well as more tangible support within the EU. It would also be beneficial if all countries put long-term incentives on the price of power produced from biomassfired plants into force. I believe, given the current economic situation, we’ll see the biggest short-term business potential in northern and central Europe. The biomass sector overall will create many local permanent jobs across many sectors, like forestry, logistics and maintenance, plus typically 50 to 100 jobs per plant. These figures are not replicated by solar and wind industries.

I feel international pellet production will expand in both 2013 and 2014, but it should be consistent with contracted off-take. I don’t see much in the way of speculative capacity being built, but we are coming close to completing our Westview wood pellet terminal in Prince Rupert and that should increase our export side moving forwards. UK generating companies are keen to see the finalisation of the Renewable Obligation Certificate (ROC) structure. A successful implementation of rigid biomass subsidies should give rise to some pretty interesting activity in that space. Back home, Canadian demand for industrial pellets for electrical generation is starting to materialise, particularly in Ontario. This will ramp up by the end of this year and has already encouraged additional pellet capacity in the province. I expect more attention to be given toward biofuels in the US over the immediate future, following the flavour of the recent presidential inaugural address. The situation in Korea is becoming more coherent however as more generating companies begin to see the value of long-term contracts. I expect developments to escalate in this market. Companies in Japan are evaluating biomass as a renewable energy source in order to take advantage of their generous feed-in tariffs. The government is spearheading a move away from internal nuclear power and heavily imported fossil fuels which could open up big renewable markets. Bassett: ‘US attention more on biofuels this year’

32 • January/February 2013

Bioenergy Insight


global outlook Bioenergy UK and pellets – perfect match? Ulrich Rusch Director of biomass planning and implementation, Vattenfall Headquarters: Sweden The biomass industry today is looking at the latest developments in the UK with great interest and expectation as it provides a solid foundation for the transition from fossil to renewable thermal power generation and the mobilisation of biomass on a larger scale than ever before. If successful, that can serve as a model for other markets to help directly reduce CO2 emissions within the existing energy infrastructure. A long list of mainly North American companies are gearing up

to feed UK power plants with pellets from new, or expanded, mills and underused forest resources. This will hopefully result in lively and healthy competition, along with fair pricing and reliable supply, among producers. It will be interesting to see if and when bilateral contracts will be replaced by a liquid commodity market. Standardisation of industrial wood pellets, which is a key prerequisite for commodisation, made good progress last year. Torrefaction and other thermochemical pretreatment technologies have not made it to the expected market maturity and might consequently miss out some of UK market opportunities. The biomass industry is still waiting for the breakthrough in setting acceptable sustainability standards for solid biomass on a global, or at least EU, level while national governments and utilities set their own guidelines.

Standardisation of pellets ‘a key prerequisite’

Extensive feedstock research

Asian potential rises


Monish Ahuja MD, PTC Bermaco Green Energy Headquarters: India

Saku Rantanen CEO, SaraRasa
 Headquarters: Singapore

surplus agro-residues is available for further additional power capacity. This translates to a potential 18,700MW capacity, for which 15 states account for almost 96%. A large part of residues however, estimated at 45%, is currently wasted due to poor harvesting efficiency. Surplus availability gets reduced as a result and the current potential has been estimated at 51 million tonnes a year, with power potential of almost 7,000MW. Moving forward, Bermaco is set to develop a power plant in India and we’ve also had positive correspondence from Tanzania, Africa about supplying gasifiers and starting a plantation. We also want to establish three other biomass plants but we feel we need help from our government to make them happen, particularly in terms of land acquisition for both site location and plantation needs, a tariff of Rs6 per unit to make investment attractive and solid avenues of power distribution once we have product made.

Abundant biomass resources are available in India, a significant part of which is currently degraded or waste products. Various sources include agroresidues like stalks, straws and husks or agro-industrial residues like husks, shells, forest residues, municipal solid and liquid wastes. Similarly, 15% of the total land in India is categorised as wasteland, some of which could be used for energy crop plantations. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy received a study by the Bangalore-based Indian Institute of Science (IISC) which lists 82 different types of agro-residues available, out of which paddy, wheat and cotton residues account for almost 40% of overall surplus. About 50% of available residues are used as fodder and another 15% for various domestic uses, including fuel. It has been estimated 145 Ahuja: Surplus feedstock bountiful million tonnes of

Bioenergy Insight

I believe pellet supply volume from Asia will stay at a relatively modest level moving forward this year. China will continue to mainly produce pellets for local markets, while regions like southeast Asia, eastern Russia and potentially Australia will aim to export product to north Rantanen: ‘Korea should continue to grow’ Asian markets. There seems to be a lot of new projects being developed which can utilise pellets, which is great for the industry and will boost renewable energy levels, but the typical unit size of pellet mills are still currently very small. A keen Korean industrial market reared its head last year and should continue to grow. Both regions are currently on track to meet their targets, but Korea may need to start investing in its import infrastructure. The Japanese market is still recovering from the earthquake it suffered last year but, as its government continues to see the value of renewable energy sources, we will witness modest import growth throughout 2013. Its feed-in tariff system will also encourage industrial energy generation in a move away from fossil fuels and even cofiring. It is expected that several companies across various industries will enter biomass power production, but it will take a few years for demand to really become consistent.

January/February 2013 • 33


Bioenergy global outlook Encouraging signs Ben Sage Sales engineer, UTS Biogas Headquarters: Germany To start off on a positive note, I predict an increased continuation in the uptake of bioenergy and biogas as a whole. As some of the more developed markets are starting to slow down, there is now an emphasis on emerging bioenergy markets and companies like us should now be looking to transfer the knowledge we have gained into these countries. It is interesting looking at the varying levels of development of the global biogas industry. Two of our strongest markets for example, Germany and Italy, have seen recent changes in the equivalent of feedin tariffs (FiTs) and there will be a focus on small plants, food waste and biomethane. Plus, in eastern Europe, there are encouraging tariffs in Croatia, Poland, Romania and Serbia. However, the UK is still relatively

Sage: ‘Encouraging tariffs throughout Europe’

underdeveloped with FiT but its Renewable Heat Incentive for biomethane will focus on all types of plants. We also sold our first anaerobic digestion (AD) plant to China last December so there could

be huge growth potential there and across southeast Asia, where there is also large volumes of waste that could be treated in these regions. AD-treated food waste means it diverts from landfill and creates a surplus of electricity at the same time. Energy crops grown as a break crop, in rotation with food production, can provide a sustainable fuel for electricity generation or biomethane production. The digestate residue can be used as a natural fertiliser to create a closed loop system. Once a holistic approach is taken to the operation and management of an AD plant, the benefits to the environment are clearly numerous. I feel our clients will primarily use organic waste streams, as well as purpose grown crops, as feedstock. Moving forward, UTS will look at ways to digest feedstock with high nitrogen levels which typically inhibit the digestion process, such as chicken manure and slaughterhouse waste. We have recently commissioned a plant in Germany that uses chicken manure as 60% of its total input.

Collaborative effort Mike Scott CEO, Nexterra Headquarters: Canada We predict the biopower industry will continue to migrate away from mammoth utility scale projects to smaller, more localised distributed scale projects. These distributed scale systems will be designed to operate on lower cost waste feedstocks available within 75km of the project, which will reduce overall project fuel risk. Another advantage of the distributed systems is that their scale creates more opportunities to utilise combined heat and power which improves economics and efficiency. We will see a continued commercialisation of emerging technologies such as gasification and pyrolysis which will have higher efficiencies and produce lower levels of air emissions. The industry will see continued growth in markets that have implemented high tariffs for renewable energy such as the UK, Japan and Europe. Southeast Asia is also a market that seems to be heating up. The market in North

34 • January/February 2013

America will be slow for industrial bioenergy and power projects as the low price of natural gas continues to be a barrier to fuel switching. Globally there are some strong financial incentives and feed-in tariffs for biomass energy that make projects attractive. To encourage investment, it is important that governments follow through with these commitments and not change course in one year. In British Columbia, the carbon tax was helpful in establishing the business case for some of our projects. This type of policy may have a meaningful impact in other jurisdictions as well. In Europe, the air emissions regulations are easy to follow. It will be important for others to adopt this methodology, otherwise it gets tied up in time consuming and costly processes that delay projects. The industry will need to work closely with the public, regulators and utilities in order to develop showcase projects that are financially successful and that are viewed positively by the public. Collectively we must also work together to address lingering questions

Scott: ‘Biomass is not a dirty word’

around biomass sustainability and public health. This is a very complex issue and the organisations protesting against projects have really confused the public, making biomass a dirty word. We must continue to show that good biomass projects can be clean, economically viable and sustainable. l

Bioenergy Insight


regional focus Bioenergy

Could 2013 be the year Europe sees solid foundations to help member states achieve EC bioenergy targets?

Manageable incentives

O

ne glance at the current share of renewable sources results table, published by industry watchdog EurObserv’er, shows positive bioenergy movement towards individually imposed EU 2020 targets. All but four of the 27 member states, according to predictive 201112 trajectories, are less than 10% away from hitting glory. Those four are Denmark, France, Ireland and the UK, which has the biggest gap to bridge as it chases a 15% total by 2020 from a predicted 4% from the start of 2013. However, of the four, only the UK and Denmark have committed to supporting a European Industrial Bioenergy Initiative scheme, which intends to drive up to €100 million of private investment for bioenergy projects.

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Another positive comes in the shape of a report by IHS Emerging Energy Research, which claims biopower has stepped up as the third main source of renewable energy behind wind and solar. ‘Its base‐load attributes and cost competitiveness against other renewable technologies position biopower as an attractive option for utilities looking to cope with intermittent renewables and maintain operation of their existing coal assets,’ reads an IHS statement. ‘But these qualities are offset by a need for stable political support and by the challenges to procure sufficient amount of feedstock in a sustainable way.’ Changing perceptions The EIBI ERA-NET Plus initiative launched under

the SET Plan, the technology pillar of the EU’s energy and climate policy, aims to contribute €47 million to the commercial availability of advanced bioenergy on a large scale by 2020. The other countries supporting the three-year Bioenergy Sustaining the Future activity (BESTF) are Finland, Germany, Navarra, Portugal, Sweden and Switzerland. The UK has pledged up to £10 million (€11.9 million) towards the BESTF scheme, which intends to drive up to €100 million of private investment throughout the eight countries. Organisations can now put forward project proposals and final grants are expected to be made in early 2014. ‘I want to see our rich tradition as innovators continue within the energy

sector. This scheme will help businesses develop a range of different projects by combining public and private sector investment to make the most of exciting technology,’ UK energy minister John Hayes said at the turn of the year. ‘Bioenergy has an important role to play in our energy mix, helping cut carbon as well as support jobs and spur on economic growth on a national and international scale.’ Johan Granath, senior VP of bioenergy at Sweden-based trading company Ekman, thinks that such initiatives will go a long way to boost the bioenergy sector throughout Europe and the UK while it waits for EU support to become clear and present. ‘I feel it is important to have success stories for everyone, from government officials to the general public,

January/February 2013 • 35


Bioenergy regional focus Indicative 2020 targets from trajectory for directive 2010 2011* 2011-2012** 2009/28/EC** % % % % Sweden

48.1 47.6

41.6

49

Latvia

32.6 33.1

34.1

40

Finland

32.0 33.0

30.4

38

Austria

30.7 30.9

25.4

34

Portugal

24.5 26.8

22.6

31

Estonia

24.7 25.6

19,4

25

Romania

23.8 24.1

19.0

24

Denmark

22.1 23.5

19.6

30

Slovenia

19.2 18.5

17.8

25

Lithuania

19.7 18.3

16.6

23

Spain

13.6 15.1

11.0

20

France

13.0 13.2

12.8

23

Bulgaria

12.8 12.8

10.7

16

Germany

10.9 12.3

8.2

18

Italy

9.9 11.6

7.6

17

Greece

9.2 11.2

9.1

18

Poland

9.6 10.6

8.8

15

Czech Republic 9.2 10.4

7.5

13

Slovakia

9.8 9.5

8.2

14

Hungary

8.7 8.2

6.0

13

Ireland

5.5 6.2

5.7

16

Cyprus

5.2 6.0

4.9

13

Belgium

5.0 5.5

4.4

13

Netherlands

3.7 4.4

4.7

14

United Kingdom 3.3 3.8

4.0

15

Luxemburg

2.9 2.8

2.9

11

Malta

0.1 0.4

2.0

10

European Union (27 countries)

12.5

-

20

13.4

*Estimate. ** All percentages originate from Annex 1 of directive 2009/28/EC. The indicative trajectory has been calculated from Part B of the annex. Note: calculations, defined the directive, use a normalised hydro and wind generation

to see because they can demonstrate how projects can work and portray biopower and bioheat in a positive light,’ Granath says. He points to large companies like Drax and RWE as benchmark producers that currently spearhead projects that capture the imagination, relishing the real results that will be made from them: ‘People respond better to hard facts then constantly having research and theory thrust at them.’ Granath believes it is difficult to pinpoint exact

36 • January/February 2013

future industry values but reveals that Ekman does its own internal research. ‘Our best bet from our research looking toward 2020 is that solid biomass, mainly wood pellets, could command a total European purchase price of €11.6 billion, and you could maybe double that when including production costs,’ he says. ‘There will be substantial markets involving Korea, Japan and the US too.’ Bolstering the use of wood pellets, Granath sees unrefined wood fuel, particularly in northern Europe, playing a

Source: EurObserv’ER 2012 - www.eurobserv-er.org

Share of energy from renewable sources in gross final consumption in 2011, indicative trajectory and national overall targets in 2020

significant part as feedstock, plus a growth in the use of solid municipal waste. ‘Dumping waste is prohibited so burning it at biomass facilities is a smart move all round,’ he explains. ‘It keeps it out of landfill and gives it a useful purpose.’ But Granath says that this solution will only work on a sustainable tip if done locally at the moment: ‘The energy level of municipal waste is low so it would be impractical for EU countries to start importing it from outside. Doing it at a localised level would be the most efficient way to utilise it and increase the renewable energy consumed across Europe.’ Ekman as a business has seen more and more smallto medium-sized pellet producers using it to get their product out to market, most notably selling through to private installations, throughout Scandinavia. ‘We’ve added a lot of premium pellet suppliers among that lot which is good for all concerned but, because of the size of the businesses, there will still be plenty of transactions to be done,’ he adds. ‘Further boosts to economic and employment angles will also arrive if the industry is correctly managed and incentivised properly.’ Realistic targets Research and competence centre in electrical power technology Laborelec, part of GDF Suez and based in Belgium, has stakeholders that take an active interest in using biomass for a few years now. Laborelec’s chief biomass technology officer Yves Ryckmans believes, while some of the figures mentioned in this report are positive, the bioenergy industry is still a slow moving beast. ‘Some figures are provocative and others are disappointing,’ he says. ‘Member states all move in different directions when it

comes to hitting individual renewable energy targets so it shouldn’t be too surprising that there is a difference between expectations and what is actually happening.’ The Belgian government supports the production of renewable energy by granting Green Certificates which are only issued if the greenhouse gas balance of the biomass is quantified. One certificate represents 1 MWh and partly covers the extra costs in production compared with fossil fuel. But, while Rycksman agrees with Granath that wood pellets will continue to play a major factor in the production of European bioenergy, the use of them in Belgium has to follow strict rules. ‘Countries like us and Poland, for example, have to adhere to rules that protect our wood industries which employs a lot of local people,’ he explains. ‘So, in order to obtain any certificates, the pellets used in the Flanders region of Belgium have to be sourced at least 800km away from the plant.’ He notes the increasing price of European pellets as another reason why imports will continue to rise, with a nod towards a lack of raw material even in places like Germany and the Baltics meaning continent-wide acceptance will continue to rely on those imports. Rycksman however hopes that new announcements to be made by the EC in April will help bridge the gap between targets and efforts. ‘The growth of bioenergy has been quite slow historically and has meant that many are struggling to meet EC targets. Hopefully there will be more support across the board so that many projects or ideas don’t stall or even get off of the ground,’ he stresses. ‘If targets maybe become a bit more manageable, the industry should continuously creep up and avoid becoming stagnant.’ l

Bioenergy Insight


biopellet profile Bioenergy With over 50% of their territories covered in forest, Estonia and Latvia present enormous opportunities for wood pellet production. So why has this region’s largest pellet producer, Graanul Invest, set its sights on the Americas? CEO Raul Kirjanen speaks to Keeley Downey

Not so territorial

T

here are two main markets for wood pellets: the producers and the consumers. Within the EU Belgium, the Netherlands, UK, Sweden and Denmark are the ‘users’ while Germany, Finland, Sweden, Portugal, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia are the ‘suppliers’. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are key wood pellet manufacturers as their huge expanse of forests, cheap labour and minimal energy costs provide for sufficient pellet production. The pellet production market in Estonia is particularly strong and it is recognised as the largest manufacturer of pellets per capita in the world. Latvia is one of Europe’s major producers with its estimated 20 pellet mills, many of which are located in and around Riga, churning out 750,000 tonnes a year. Not to be left behind, Lithuania is looking to ramp up its output of pellets over the coming years and plans are in place for 70% of all heat and 6% of total electricity output to come from biomass materials by 2020. In these three nations the majority of pellets produced domestically are exported abroad and, while the potential for wood pellet production in these European countries is great, domestic consumption is relatively low. Market domination The largest producer of wood pellets amongst these Baltic countries, and listed

Bioenergy Insight

as one of the top five pellet producers in Europe, is AS Graanul Invest (GI), which currently manufactures a total 830,000 tonnes of wood pellets a year across its six production factories. The company’s first facility was established in Imavere, Estonia in 2005 and produces 105,000t/y. In 2008 the company acquired what was then the Estoniabased Hansa Graanul pellet plant and today, under the name Helme Graanul OÜ, it makes 180,000t/y. Its subsidiaries, SIA Graanul Invest, UAB Graanul Invest and SIA Graanul Pellets, located in Launkalne, Latvia; Alvtus, Lithuania; and Incukalns, Latvia produce 180,000t/y, 75,000t/y and 180,000t/y, respectively. In August this year Graanul Invest acquired the existing

110t/y Flex Heat Eesti factory in Estonia’s Ebavere. ‘Our biggest competitor in the Baltic States is Latgran, with an annual production capacity of around 300,000 tonnes per year,’ explains Raul Kirjanen, CEO of GI. Feeling flexy GI’s production portfolio is split 60/40, with the larger percentage dedicated to pellets for use in industrial markets such as energy power plants. The remaining 40% of pellets are made from premium quality raw materials and consumed mostly within the domestic market in small furnaces, stoves and biomass boilers. Much of GI’s production takes place in Estonia and Latvia as around half of these territories are covered with

forest, and Kirjanen says the company’s key concept is feedstock flexibility. ‘Pellets are a very low margin business and changes in the raw material market have a huge impact on both the cost and production of pellets,’ he says. For that reason GI is able to manufacture its pellets from a variety of woody biomass, including shavings, sawdust, pulp, chips, cuttings, bark and logs. ‘The raw material market changes for various reasons,’ Kirjanen continues, ‘such as climatic or market reasons among others. Our concept means that, if sawdust gets too expensive for example, we can use logs. And when that is not available, we can use other raw materials.’ The company sources its raw materials from the local wood and forestry

January/February 2013 • 37


Bioenergy biopellet profile

Graanul Invest’s plant in Launkalne, Latvia

industries located within a 100-150km radius. ‘We guarantee continuous supply through maintaining good relationships with local wood and forestry companies. We also have quite big stocks for raw material to mitigate seasonality and potential market disruptions. We usually have around two months worth of raw material in stock at all times,’ Kirjanen reveals.

ha) of Estonia and 34.5% (2.2 million ha) of Lithuania is covered by forests. Estonia alone generates 4-5 million m3 of wood waste annually; its total primary energy content

that production of pellets can grow considerably here [Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania] as the raw material availability will set limitations on the installed production capacity.’

in March 2012, the US and Canada are two of the largest producers of wood pellets in the world, with South America, along with Australia and South Africa considered an ‘emerging producing country’. Also on GI’s short-term agenda is energy efficiency. ‘As well expanding to the Americas and Canada we are looking to make our existing pellet plants in the Baltic states more efficient,’ Kirjanen explains. ‘Recently we have been building CHP plants for our pellet mills so that we have a more efficient heat use in the plant and also generate our own electricity. That’s part of our programme to make more efficient production.’ The company already operates two CHP plants: its Launkalne facility generates heat and power, as does its 180,000t/y Helme Graanul OÜ plant, and has plans in place to develop a further two CHP plants in Latvia and Estonia within the next three

One step ahead While there is a great potential for large-scale pellet production within Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia, domestic consumption within these three European nations is relatively low. Kirjanen agrees with this and says 95% of his company’s wood pellets are exported to other European countries, although does acknowledge that the domestic markets in Latvia and Estonia are growing. ‘We export all over Europe but there are some markets like Denmark and Sweden that are close to us so that’s a natural export,’ he comments. Currently 53% (3.4 million ha) of Latvia, 52% (2.2 million

38 • January/February 2013

Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania enjoy huge expanses of forest land

of biomass has the potential to exceed 20TWh a year. Despite these encouraging figures, Kirjanen doubts wood pellet production will grow significantly due to ‘limited’ resources: ‘I do not believe

With this in mind GI is looking to break through its European barriers and penetrate the US, Canadian and South American markets as, according to the Industrial Wood Pellets Report published

to four years ‘depending on the market and demand’, says Kirjanen, who adds: ‘It’s a little bit too early to divulge any information at this stage as we’ve not yet made any specific plans.’ l

Bioenergy Insight


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January/February 2013 • 39


Bioenergy profile Director of BioG UK Ed Thomas talks to James Barrett about why he is excited about biogas production in 2013

Bring on those targets

B

iogas technology provider BioG UK, and its Austrian sister company BioG Biogastechnik, are looking forward to a positive 12 months ahead, particularly as it hopes to be involved in furthering the anaerobic digestion (AD) industry towards hitting both UK and European targets. ‘It promises to be an exciting time for the UK AD industry in particular,’ enthuses BioG UK director Ed Thomas. ‘The number of AD plants operating, under construction or with planning permission here has doubled to more than 200 over the past 18 months and we would expect this strong trend to continue.’ Political backing He bases this optimism on a feeling that AD can contribute ‘on a sizeable scale’ towards helping the UK reach both its own government’s renewable energy targets and commitments made to the European Union’s 2020 goals, the second of which is geared toward 15% of all energy to come from renewable sources. ‘The industry has been calling for regulatory certainty for some time now and, over the last few months, we have been able to welcome supportive messages from the likes of the Department of Energy and Climate Change and the Environmental Agency,’ he adds. Thomas hopes that 2013 will be the year that positive statements turn into concrete certainty with continued support part of the UK Energy Bill adoption, which will allow energy providers to charge

40 • January/February 2013

more as they move BioG’s flagship towards turning to AD plant in Utzenaich, Austria renewable energy production. The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) is also consulting on proposals for a subsidy scheme aimed at helping households replace their existing fossil fuel-based heating systems with renewablebased ones. ‘We welcome the proposed RHI changes which are due this year, with the Lets get latest recommendations motoring: Thomas (left) and his hopefully confirmed in writing fellow director over the summer,’ Thomas Rob Greenow are positive about the says. ‘This should spur on future of biogas significant investment to utilise the valuable lost heat by many AD plants that could be better used.’ To date there has been a low uptake of plants using heat in Outside of the UK, the the UK but Thomas adds that wider BioG network has plants BioG UK makes it policy to use installed across central and every kW of available heat at eastern Europe with further each plant in order to further new business coming from improve project efficiency, an expanding market seeking while his Austrian counterparts technical components. have to use all their heat ‘Our new BioFeeder generated as a condition technology aims to drive within their planning. ‘All AD BioG’s ethos of efficiency by operators look to maximise further keeping our digesters their gas yields, so why not running for longer but keeping do the same with heat? the power usage low,’ Thomas ‘There is significant potential says. ‘We are now seeing for numerous value added interest for our services spin-offs from heat use, but from places like the Balkans you have to accommodate and countries in Africa now for it,’ he explains. ‘We have which shows how biogas’ links to universities in Vienna, influence is spreading.’ Graz and Boku and we can use those relationships to Feeding the future work on feedstock mixes, maximising gas yields and BioG UK has also spent a lot of food/fuel techniques.’ time researching agricultural

feedstock and trialled 22 varieties of maize, as well as various other grasses, forage and hybrid ryes, last year. It is something Thomas is excited to continue in 2013. ‘We are looking to expand our trials even further and we’re particularly interested in looking at some alternative feedstocks such as energy beet,’ he smiles. ‘We hear a lot about beet from seed producers so we’re really keen to see it in action. ‘It is important to constantly gather crop information and work with our agronomists to look at ways of improving our rotations for the benefit of arable and energy crops and, ultimately, our customers and partners.’ l

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January/February 2013 • 41


Bioenergy plant update

Plant update – Europe Dong Energy Location Denmark Alternative fuel Heat and electricity Capacity 1GW Feedstock 1.5 million tonnes a year of wood pellets Construction / expansion / Dong Energy is looking to convert acquisition three of its coal- and gas-fired power stations to consume wood pellets instead Project start date 2013 Completion date 2015 Investment $795 million (€587 million)

KMG Inseneriehituse Location Estonia: one plant in Vinni and another in Oisu Alternative fuel Renewable energy for the National Grid Capacity Two plants generating around 1.2MW each Feedstock Biogas from solid and liquid manure Construction / expansion / Construction acquisition Designer / builder BioConstruct Project start date May 2012 (announced)

42 • January/February 2013

Kujalan Komposti and Gasum Location Lahti, Finland Alternative fuel Renewable energy and vehicle fuel Capacity 50GWh Feedstock Biogas from biowaste Construction / expansion / Construction acquisition Project start date December 2012 (announced) Investment The project was awarded a €5.7 million investment from Finland’s Ministry of Employment and the Economy. Total cost: €17 million

Savon Voima Location Leppävirta, Finland Alternative fuel Renewable energy Capacity 8MW Feedstock Biomass such as forest residue and peat Construction / expansion / Construction acquisition Designer / builder Metso Project start date January 2013 (announced) Completion date End of 2013 Investment €9 million

Bioenergy Insight


plant update Bioenergy Lohjan Energiahuolto Loher, Metsäliitto Cooperative and Ääneseudun Energia Location Lohja, Finland Alternative fuel Renewable heat Capacity 160,000MWh Feedstock Wood-based fuels Construction / expansion / Construction acquisition Designer / builder Lohjan Biolämpö Completion date January 2013 Investment €17 million

Methaneo Location Saint Varent, France Alternative fuel Renewable power Feedstock Biogas from manure and grain residue Construction / expansion / Construction acquisition Designer / builder Weltec Power Project start date December 2012 (announced) Completion date July 2013

Smurfit Kappa Taaleritehdas Location Between five to seven plants across Finland Alternative fuel Biogas Capacity 60,000-120,000 tonnes Feedstock Household biowaste, wastewater slurry, industrial by-products and agricultural waste Construction / expansion / Construction acquisition Project start date April 2012 (announced) Investment €90 million

Location France Alternative fuel Combined heat and power Capacity 69MW Feedstock 500,000 tonnes of biomass such as tree bark and fines Construction / expansion / Construction acquisition Designer / builder Dalkia Completion date October 2012 Comment The electricity will be sold to EDF Energy

Unknown

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

Tampere, Finland Renewable heat 33MW with pellets and 47MW with light fuel oil Wood pellets Construction MW Power Early 2013

Fortum Power Location Two plants: one in Järvenpää, Finland and another in Jalgava, Latvia Alternative fuel Combined heat and power Capacity Finland: 280GWh of heat and 130GWh of electricity Latvia: 230GWh of heat and 110GWh of electricity Feedstock Biomass, including wood and peat moss Construction / expansion / Construction acquisition Designer / builder Metso Completion date 2013 Investment €8.2 million

Bioenergy Insight

Location Berlin, Germany Alternative fuel Renewable energy Capacity 28MW Feedstock Biomass co-fired with coal Construction / expansion / Construction acquisition Designer / builder Saxlund International Project start date August 2012 Completion date December 2013 Investment €3 million

GBE Gocher Bioenergie Location Klever Straße, Germany Alternative fuel Combined heat and power Capacity 7.6MW electric and 28MW thermal energy Feedstock Woody biomass Construction / expansion / Construction acquisition Completion date November 2012 Investment €34 million

German Pellets Location Italy Alternative fuel Combined heat and power Capacity 180kW of power and 240kW of heat Construction / expansion / Construction acquisition Project start date January 2012 (announced)

January/February 2013 • 43


Bioenergy plant update Eneco

GDF Suez

Location Delfzijl Port, the Netherlands Alternative fuel Renewable energy Capacity 49.9MW Feedstock 300,000 tonnes a year of woodchips Construction / expansion / Construction acquisition Designer / builder Areva Renewables, Ballast Nedam Infra and Metso Power Project start date January 2012 Completion date 2013

Pyroil International Location Three plants in Venlo, Waddinxveen and Amsterdam, the Netherlands Alternative fuel Renewable energy Feedstock 200,000 tonnes of plastic waste each Construction / expansion / Construction acquisition Project start date April 2012 (announced) Completion date End of 2012 (first plant) Investment $100 million (€74 million)

Grontmij Location Bialystok, Poland Alternative fuel Biogas Capacity 23 million m3 a year Feedstock Organic waste materials Construction / expansion / Construction acquisition Completion date December 2012 (announced) Investment €2 million

Location Polaniec, Poland Alternative fuel Renewable energy Capacity 200MW Feedstock Biomass Construction / expansion / Converted from a coal-fired power acquisition plant to biomass-fired only Designer / builder Foster Wheeler Completion date January 2013 NEWD Location Pomerania, Poland Alternative fuel Renewable energy Capacity 2.4MW Feedstock Biogas from maize, manure and potato waste Construction / expansion / Construction acquisition Designer / builder Weltec Power Project start date Construction on phase II started in August 2012 Completion date Mid-2013 Polish Energy Partners Location Winsko, Poland Alternative fuel Renewable energy Capacity 30MW Feedstock Straw Construction / expansion / Construction acquisition Designer / builder DP Cleantech Project start date 2012 (announced) Completion date End-2014 Investment €25.6 million

AltEnergo Bioenergy Project Location Alternative fuel Capacity Construction / expansion / acquisition Designer / builder Completion date

Konopnica, Poland Combined heat and power 17,000MWh of heat and 16,800MWh of power a year Construction Technika Energetyczna and Gruppo October 2012

Location Belgorod, Russia Alternative fuel Renewable energy Capacity 2.4MW Feedstock Biogas from maize silage, slurry and slaughterhouse waste Construction / expansion / Construction acquisition Designer / builder BD Agro Renewables Project start date Beginning 2012 Completion date October 2012 ENCE

Tergopower Location Lublin, Poland Alternative fuel Combined heat and power Capacity 40MW Feedstock Straw and woody biomass Construction / expansion / Construction acquisition Project start date 2014 Completion date 2015-2016 Investment €140 million

44 • January/February 2013

Location Mérida, Spain Alternative fuel Renewable energy Capacity 20MW Feedstock Biomass, including poplar and eucalyptus crops Construction / expansion / Construction acquisition Designer / builder SENER Project start date August 2012 (announced) Completion date Q3 2014 Investment €80.9 million

Bioenergy Insight


plant update Bioenergy Smurfit Kappa Location Nevrion, Spain Alternative fuel Renewable energy Capacity 21.4MW Construction / expansion / Expansion with a new steam acquisition cogeneration plant at its paper mill Project start date 2009 Completion date June 2012 Investment €20 million

E.ON Location Alternative fuel Capacity Construction / expansion / acquisition Project start date

Cheshire, England, UK Renewable energy 60MW Construction October 2012 (approved)

Emerald Biogas Värnamo Energi Location Sweden Alternative fuel Combined heat and power Capacity 13.4MW of thermal power and 3.6MW of electrical output Feedstock Biomass Construction / expansion / Construction acquisition Designer / builder Metso Project start date November 2012 (announced) Completion date Q3 2014 Investment €17 million

Swiss Army Location Bure, Switzerland Alternative fuel Renewable heat Capacity 2.6GWh Feedstock Biogas from liquid manure, green and grain waste Construction / expansion / Construction acquisition Designer / builder Weltec Biopower Project start date July 2012 (announced) Completion date End of 2012

Helius Energy Location Avonmouth, England, UK Alternative fuel Renewable energy Capacity 100MW Construction / expansion / Construction acquisition Investment £300 million (€350 million)

Geneco Location Bristol, England, UK Alternative fuel Renewable energy Capacity 10GWh Feedstock Biogas from food waste Construction / expansion / Construction acquisition Designer / builder Monsal Project start date Beginning 2012 Completion date December 2012

Bioenergy Insight

Location Alternative fuel Feedstock Completion date Investment

County Durham, England, UK Renewable energy Biogas from food waste March 2013 £8 million (€9 million)

Dorset County Location Alternative fuel Capacity Feedstock Construction / expansion / acquisition Project start date

Dorset, England, UK Renewable energy Enough to benefit 56,000 homes Biogas from food waste Construction November 2012 (announced)

Markey Group Location Gloucestershire, England, UK Alternative fuel Heat Feedstock 2,350 tonnes a year of waste wood Construction / expansion / Construction acquisition Designer / builder Commissioned by Industvent and Justsen Energiteknik supplied the water boiler Completion date April 2012 Investment £1.1 million (€1.3 million) Comment Previously, the majority of this wood waste was sent to landfill

Real Ventures Location Lincolnshire, England, UK Alternative fuel Combined heat and power Capacity 49MW Feedstock Wood pellets Construction / expansion / Construction acquisition Project start date April 2012 (approval granted) Completion date 2015 Investment €158 million

MGT Power Location Middlesbrough, England, UK Alternative fuel Renewable energy Construction / expansion / Construction acquisition Project start date July 2012 (approval granted) Investment £600 million (€700 million)

January/February 2013 • 45


Bioenergy plant update Iceni Energy

Shanks

Location Norfolk, England, UK Alternative fuel Renewable energy Feedstock Cereal and oilseed rape straw Construction / expansion / Construction acquisition Project start date June 2012 (approval granted). Construction is due to begin early this year Completion date Mid-2015

Plevin and Sons Location Nottinghamshire, England, UK Alternative fuel Combined heat and power Capacity 1.6MW of electricity and 8MW of heat Feedstock 25,000 tonnes of wood waste Construction / expansion / Construction acquisition Project start date October 2012 (submitted planning application). Decision expected early this year

Location Wakefield, England, UK Alternative fuel Renewable energy Feedstock Biogas from 65,000 tonnes of waste Construction / expansion / Construction acquisition Designer / builder Imtech and Ros Roca Project start date January 2013 Completion date Mid-2015 Investment €11.7 million

PDM/ReFood Location Widnes, England, UK Alternative fuel Renewable energy Capacity 4.2MWh Feedstock Biogas from 90,000 tonnes of food waste Construction / expansion / Construction acquisition Project start date January 2013 Investment €23.3 million

Drax E.ON Location Shropshire, England, UK Alternative fuel Renewable energy Feedstock Wood pellets Construction / expansion / The company will convert a section acquisition of its Ironbridge power station so that it can use 100% wood pellets as a renewable fuel source Project start date April 2012 (announced) Completion date 2013

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

Somerset, England, UK Renewable energy Biogas from 30,000 tonnes of waste a year Construction April 2012 April 2013 €12 million

Air Products Location Tees Valley, England, UK Alternative fuel Renewable energy Capacity 50MW Feedstock Non-recyclable waste materials Construction / expansion / Construction acquisition Project start date August 2012 (approval granted)

46 • January/February 2013

Location England, UK Alternative fuel Renewable energy Feedstock Biomass Construction / expansion / Three of the six Drax units will be acquisition converted to fire biomass Investment £180 million (€210 million)

Land Energy Location Ayrshire, Scotland, UK Alternative fuel Wood pellets Capacity 60,000 tonnes a year Feedstock Timber Construction / expansion / Construction acquisition Completion date October 2012

Helius Corde Location Rothes, Scotland, UK Alternative fuel Combined heat and power Capacity 7.2MW Construction / expansion / Construction acquisition Completion date First half 2013

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

Bioenergy Insight


biochemicals Bioenergy It operates at the very limits of scientific knowhow, and some of the work reads like the stuff of science fiction, yet could 2013 be the year that bio-based chemicals make the leap from lab-scale prototype to factory floor? Amy McLellan investigates

The next big bio-thing

B

io-chemicals appear under a number of different guises, most commonly synthetic biology or industrial biotech, and involve manipulating the metabolism of a microorganism, such as yeast or bacteria, so that it becomes highly efficient at converting biomass into a desired chemical molecule. It does not mean the end product is recyclable, biodegradable or harmless but it does mean the chemicals and plastics of the future won’t have to rely on fossil fuels as a feedstock. This is still an emerging field but there have already been some commercialscale successes with niche chemicals, such as DuPont’s pioneering efforts with propanediol, which it has been producing at commercial scale in Tennessee since 2006. Market watchers expect to see more biochemicals reach commercial production in 2013, most notably succinic acid. The drivers range from the obvious - to reduce environmental footprints and find alternatives to high cost crude feedstocks - to the more subtle - such as arbitrage opportunities created by the shale gas boom in North America and the need to lower the production costs of biofuels by monetising valuable co-products (some studies suggest costs could be reduced by about 30% by adopting a biorefinery model). The prize is huge. The petrochemicals industry is the high value end of the oil industry, using only 4% of petroleum consumption but accounting for 42% of

Bioenergy Insight

NatureWorks’ Nebraska facility produces 140,000tpy of Ingeo biopolymers

revenue. While biochemicals are, as yet, a mere drop in the petrochemicals ocean, there is scope for material growth. Analyst Laurence Alexander of Jefferies and Co in New York believes industrial biotechnology, excluding pharmaceutical applications, has reached $120-$150 billion (€90-€112 billion) in sales, compared to a roughly $3 trillion chemical market value. By 2025, the market for industrial biotechnology could reach $300-$700 billion, with opportunities in new specialty chemicals and polymers, as well as biobased substitutes for existing commodities and polymers. While there are pockets of activity in Europe, inevitably it is the US, fuelled by investor appetite to fund innovation and backed by its strong farm lobby, that is leading the R&D

effort. Iowa State University, in the heartland of the cornbelt, is home to the National Science Foundation Centre for Biorenewable Chemicals, which has a massive $5 million a year grant for 10 years to develop biobased chemicals. Its innovation director Peter Keeling, a British biochemist with 31 years in the industry, says the goal is to find a platform chemical that can replace a whole branch of current petrochemicals. ‘At the moment, biochemicals account for about 3-5% of the petrochemicals industry. This centre is about finding ways to grow that percentage.’ Booming in Brazil The US may lead the R&D effort but, when it comes to deployment, the commercialscale biochemicals plants of

the future will be built where the feedstock costs are cheap and demand is booming — and that means south to Latin America or east to Asia. Indeed Brazil, with its vast biomass resources and ethanol leadership, is a ‘go to’ destination for biochemicals companies ready to make the shift to commercial production. The leader here is Brazilian petrochemicals giant Braskem which, in 2010, inaugurated the largest sugarcane to ethylene plant in the world with a production capacity of 200,000 tonnes. It is also building a green propylene plant which will have minimum production capacity of 30,000 tonnes/year, with startup slated for late 2013. But Braskem isn’t the only company heading to Brazil. Californian renewable oils company Solazyme, which

January/February 2013 • 47


Bioenergy biochemicals uses proprietary microalgae to convert low cost plant sugars into high value oils and chemicals, and global agribusiness group Bunge recently announced plans to expand their production joint venture in Brazil, increasing capacity from the 100,000 tonnes per year currently under construction to 300,000 per year by 2016. And while Minneapolis-based BioAmber, having received provincial and federal grants and loans worth C$35 million (€26 million) selected Ontario, Canada as the location for its first North American biosuccinic acid plant (it already has a small 3,000 tonne plant in France), it is looking further afield for opportunities to ramp up production. Its next investment, alongside Japanese trading group Mitsui, is heading south to Thailand, with this second plant due online in 2014. A third plant may be sited in Brazil. Succinic acid, a specialty chemical that can be modified to make a wide range of products, from automotive parts to cosmetics to food ingredients, is on the fast-track to mainstream acceptance after a slew of substantial investments from chemicals heavyweights. By 2015, the IEA estimates biosuccinic acid will account for two-thirds of the estimated 90,000 tonne/year global succinic acid market — and this is a market that is growing fast to service the boom in bio-based plastics. The big question is whether biobased succinic acid can be cost competitive — market watchers suggest the answer is ‘not yet’. German chemicals giant BASF has formed a joint venture with Purac, a subsidiary of CSM, to have a biosuccinic acid plant operational this year. The joint venture, which is staying quiet on costs, will use the proprietary bacterium Basfia succiniciproducens to metabolise a variety of renewable feedstocks into succinic acid. ‘The renewable feedstock are C3 (Glycerole),

48 • January/February 2013

C5 and C6 (both sugars),’ says a spokeswoman. ‘We plan to use C5/C6 sugars from biowaste in the future that do not compete with the food-chain.’ Purac’s existing fermentation facility near Barcelona, Spain

overlooked opportunity. ‘He felt that using a new synthetic biology approach, it was possible to build from scratch completely artificial metabolic pathways that would allow us to convert sugar into light

BASF’s Ecovio bioplastic is ideal for composting

is being modified to produce the succinic acid, with annual capacity of 10,000 tonnes. A second plant, with capacity of 50,000 tonnes, is also planned. The big prize Some companies are now eyeing the bigger prizes in the petrochemicals market, the light olefins (ethylene, propylene, isobutene, n-butene, butadiene), which have a market value of tens of billions of dollars. French company Global Bioenergies is among them. It was founded in October 2008 by Marc Delcourt and Philippe Marlière, a scientist and bio-entrepreneur, to specifically target this

olefins,’ says Delcourt. The company’s first focus was isobutene, one of the key building blocks of the petrochemical industry, which can be easily converted into fuels and various materials (synthetic rubber, plastics) with worldwide consumption of 15 million tonnes and a market value of $25 billion. The start-up quickly raised €3.2 million from Seventure, the venture capital arm of BPCE, one of the three largest banks in France. Proof of concept was reached in 2009 and a lab-scale prototype was built in 2010. The team is now completing the development and starting on the industrialisation of the process, aided by two

recent appointments. Charles Nakamura, a 2007 ACS Hero of Chemistry for his work at DuPont on the development of the industrial strains and fermentation processes to manufacture propanediol, is now VP for metabolic engineering, and Richard Bockrath, who spent over 30 years at DuPont, including as a technical director. ‘They are in charge of the industrialisation of the process,’ says Delcourt. This is a big change in the lifecycle of an R&D start-up. The company’s most recent financial results saw operating expenses surge 78% to €4.2 million as it expanded its R&D team and readied for the push to industrialisation. The company, recently named the ‘most innovative European biotech SME’ by industry body EuropaBio, is also starting to replicate its isobutene success with the other olefins and has made progress with propylene. The existing market for propylene, which is widely used in the car industry, is worth $93 billion. It has now had a breakthrough with its third molecule, butadiene. It joined forces with Polish rubber manufacturer Synthos in 2011 to find ways to convert renewable feedstocks into butadiene. This is a $20 billionplus market, with 10 million tonnes of butadiene made each year from oil, 7 million of which are used to manufacture rubbers and 3 million to make nylon, plastics and latexes. The French company has now successfully found a metabolic pathway for butadiene and patents have been filed for this new process, triggering a €1.5 million milestone payment from Synthos. The two companies will now work together to develop the process. The business model is based on licensing the technology and Global Bioenergies, which in December opened an office in Hong Kong, hopes to see its technology operational on a commercial scale by January 2017. It believes its products

Bioenergy Insight


biochemicals Bioenergy will be price competitive, producing the isobutene for a cost of about $1.50/kg compared to a present price of $2/kg for the fossil high-purity isobutene used to manufacture plastics and elastomers. The commercial challenge The shift from R&D to commercial operations can be the most challenging part of the process. That has certainly been the experience of Colorado-based Gevo, which is targeting what it calls ‘the wonder molecule’, isobutanol. This is a versatile platform chemical for the liquid fuels and petrochemical market, which can be used as a solvent and a petrol blendstock to help refiners meet their renewable fuel and clean air obligations or further processed into jet fuel and feedstocks for the production of synthetic rubber, plastics and polyesters. Its technology solution, which involves a proprietary yeast and separation unit, can be retrofitted to an existing ethanol plant, thereby reducing capital costs and time to market. The company spent around $200 million over five years, including R&D and the purchase and retrofitting of a Minnesota ethanol plant, to start commercial operations in May 2012, with the plant successfully producing and shipping out bio-isobutanol in railcars to customers. It was a short-lived run, however, with the NASDAQ-quoted company announcing in September that it was going to shut-down production while it optimised parts of the technology to ensure economic production. It will switch back to ethanol production once margins improve, explains COO Chris Ryan, adding that the company hopes to resume isobutanol production in 2013. The Gevo team includes the co-founders of NatureWorks, the bioplastics company spun out of Cargill. Those years of fermentation experience

Bioenergy Insight

are now proving invaluable as the team optimises the commercial operations. Ryan says Gevo drew on its fermentation expertise to design a technology that would be ‘inherently more robust at commercial scale’ and it still ran into difficulties. ‘Some of our peer companies are going to be in for some significant learning at commercial scale and face some significant hurdles to make their processes robust,’ he says. There’s been an added complication: a patent dispute with Butamax, a JV between DuPont and BP. Gevo won the latest round when the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit dismissed Butamax’s application for an injunction to stop Gevo proceeding with commercial production. Ryan, again, has seen this all before, having been through patents disputes with industry heavyweights while at NatureWorks. ‘It is typical of this space,’ he says. ‘Yes, it’s a distraction but there is a silver lining: isobutanol is such an attractive market that these big companies really care and that’s a reassurance for us.’ Butamax, of course, is equally confident in its case, which it will present when the dispute heads to trial in April. ‘For Gevo to defeat Butamax’s suit, they have to prove by clear and convincing evidence that each and every claim of both Butamax’s patents are invalid. We do not think that this is likely,’ says a Butamax spokesperson. Butamax was formed in 2009 to produce and use isobutanol as a renewable transport fuel. ‘A key advantage of biobutanol is that it allows the amount of renewable energy blended into petrol to be doubled. In an extreme case, it is conceivable that the directed blended petrol market for biobutanol could be larger than today’s global bioethanol market,’ says the spokesperson, adding there are additional markets in aviation fuel, diesel and

specialty chemicals. Butamax plans to break ground on its first retrofit in 2013, ahead of first commercial production in late 2014. The first facility will be in the US Midwest with a nameplate capacity of at least 50 mgy, according to the spokesperson. Strategics buy in It is a signal of the promise of this revolutionary technology and the value of the prize that industry heavyweights are investing so heavily. While it is not easy for the R&D start-ups to raise funds in the current markets, the large strategics are aligning themselves with promising technology

equity just for providing the technology,’ says one analyst. ‘The ratio is much higher than you typically see in technology licensing deals in the chemicals industry.’ San Francisco’s Solazyme, for example, benefitted from a 2010 joint venture with French starch company Roquette Frères, with the latter company funding and building a commercial-scale manufacturing plant and providing working capital and paying upfront licensing fees to Solazyme. Last year Solazyme announced another JV, this time with Bunge for a 100,000-tonne renewable oil production facility in Brazil, with start-up slated for next year. It is a joint funded deal

Gevo has halted production at its retrofitted ethanol plant

companies to get a head-start on the next breakthrough. It helps to have a big partner on board, not only because of their deep pockets to ease the transition from R&D to capital-intensive commercial start-up, but also because their customer contacts provide a feedback loop on potential applications and markets. This can be invaluable in getting pullthrough from consumers. ‘We are increasingly seeing large strategics form joint ventures that give the technology provider a significant chunk of the

but Solazyme gets preferential claw back on revenues to compensate for its cuttingedge technology contribution. Not all of these joint ventures end well, however. Shares in Metabolix took a hit in January 2012 when NYSE-listed agri-giant Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) walked away from their JV, Telles, which was designed to commercialise the bioplastic Mirel. ADM said the returns did not match its internal thresholds given uncertainty about projected capital and production costs and the rate of market adoption of Mirel.

January/February 2013 • 49


Bioenergy biochemicals This led to the cessation of Mirel production at ADM’s corn processing complex facility in Clinton, Iowa. In November, however, Solazyme seized the opportunity of the idle Clinton plant and reached agreement with ADM to produce its algal oils at the plant, with initial production of 20,000 tonnes in 2014, increasing later to 100,000 tonnes. Solazyme CEO Jonathan Wolfson said this expansion of the company’s commercial footprint in North America gave it access to ‘capital-efficient manufacturing capacity and ADM’s unique research and application resources’. This move is already paying off: in December 2012 Solazyme announced it had successfully demonstrated it can run at commercial scale at the ADM facility and has now achieved linear scale-up of over 70,000 fold from its labs. Laurence Alexander at

Jefferies and Co expects spending by Big Chemical and Big Oil to increase as the next three years mark the transition of these technologies to commercial scale. ‘We expect the pace of investment by strategics from the fuel and chemical industries to accelerate over the next few years as new process technologies are validated and new arbitrages develop between the agricultural, fuel, chemical, and waste management value chains,’ says the cleantech analyst. The future These are exciting times in the biochemicals space. Technology has moved on from proof of concept and it is increasingly about the commercial proposition — delivering at scale and serving customers. Already what was once

revolutionary is gaining mainstream acceptance, with investor metrics shifting from discussions of yield and titre to margins and returns on invested capital. ‘By 2015, the first wave of commercial second generation biofuel plants and biorefineries should be scaled up, with high value niche specialty materials and ‘drop in’ chemical building blocks likely having the most success,’ says Alexander. To date, the emergent industry has not attracted the kind of negative headlines that have so blighted the roll-out of biofuels, largely because the volumes of biomass are much smaller, the industry is more challenging to understand and, on the GM side, ‘Franken-chemicals’ do not carry the same fearfactor as ‘Franken-foods’. And already the industry is striving to make its practices more sustainable by moving away from food

crops. California’s Cobalt Technologies has joined forces with specialty chemical company Rhodia to develop a biobutanol demonstration facility in Brazil, converting waste bagasse into bio n-butanol, an industrial chemical used in paints, adhesives, inks, and other solvents with a global market of over $5 billion. Operational testing is expected to be completed by mid-2013. Further ahead, technology will continue to astound. Witness the recent announcement from the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory, where scientists developed a genetically modified bacterium that used water and carbon dioxide in the air to produce ethylene, the most widely produced petrochemical feedstock in the world. Photosynthesising chemicals from air? Now that could really be revolutionary. Watch this space. l

Bioplastics The roughlY 1 billion tonnes of plastic produced since 1950 are likely to be around for many centuries to come. It’s a depressing thought yet we remain addicted to the stuff. Increasingly, efforts are being made to improve the environmental performance of plastics, both to drive down costs in a world of high oil prices and to meet growing consumer demand for biodegradable packaging — although as analysts and producers point out, consumer sentiment about the environmental legacy of their purchases does not stretch to their wallets. This is certainly a growth market. Analysts at Jefferies and Co in New York estimate global demand for bioplastics to be 550,000-600,000 tpy with a potential market value of $1.8-$2.6 billion. Global 50 • January/February 2013

demand for biodegradable plastics is estimated at 135,000-150,000 tpy, 65% of which is in Europe. ‘We expect demand for bioplastics to grow 20%plus, and biodegradables 10–15%, through the end of the decade as more chemical producers explore alternative feedstocks,’ says analyst Laurence Alexander, who believes the industry is operating at roughly 35-40% of nameplate capacity. One of the fast-emerging players in this market is NatureWorks, which operates a $300 million 140,000 tpy PLA facility in Nebraska, which uses 0.5% of the US corn crop as feedstock to make its Ingeo biopolymers. Even after 10 years, this plant still isn’t at full capacity. ‘It’s over 50% and growing at around 20% a year,’ says a spokesman,

highlighting the commercial challenges that remain even when the technology has been cracked. High oil prices help, however, with plantbased plastics offering price stability compared to the volatility of crude. ‘We’re a kind of hedge against oil price volatility,’ says a spokesman for Natureworks. The company, which started life as a Cargill/Dow JV (Dow exited in 2005), was boosted last year when Thai petrochemicals giant PTT Chemical made a $150 million equity investment. ‘This was significant because it showed we had become mainstream,’ adds the spokesman. ‘It was a tremendous vote of credibility.’ The company plans to open its second commercial plant in Thailand, with operations starting in 2015.

Adrian Higson, head of biorefining at NNFCC in the UK, says bio-based plastics have a long way to go before they make a serious impact. ‘They are still emergent and currently account for less than 1% of all the plastics produced,’ he points out. Even so, he says this is a market segment that is only going to grow. ‘Yes, the cost of oil is an issue but the biggest driver is environmental awareness and companies wanting to improve their brand image. Companies are prepared to take a little hit on the price of the packaging to gain that image boost with consumers.’ Indeed, it is believed that Braskem’s Bio-PE is priced 30% above petrochemical equivalents, and the bio-MEG used to make Coca Cola’s bio-PET bottles lifts the bottle cost by about 20%.

Bioenergy Insight


fuel cells Bioenergy Now operational, the largest biogas-powered fuel cell generator in the world symbolises the evolution of a hot technology multiplying across global landscapes

Multiplying cells

by Nicholas Zeman

I

t is no secret that the fuel cell has not been a success in vehicles, but the technology has been undergoing a quiet revolution in industrial biopower. ‘Fuel cells are more suited to stationary applications and the cost has come down because of economies of scale,’ says Arun Sharma of US-based Anaergia. ‘Bigger is better for economies of scale, and the costs have come down considerably.’ Anaergia has installed 1,600 renewable energy projects from biogas worldwide with a growing number incorporating fuel cells into the system. Most of this work has occurred outside of the bright ‘green’ spotlight. ‘Fuel cell generators don’t have a lot of sex appeal,’ says Scott Samuelsen, director of the Fuel Cell Research Institute (FCRI) at the University of California. ‘It’s not a “neat” engine. There are no pistons or working parts, so there has been little excitement. And the truth is we haven’t done a very good job of marketing it, there aren’t a lot of pretty pictures.’ It’s true that most of these systems are not much more than metal boxes, but they are doing incredible things affecting high efficiency fuel to electricity conversions with no emissions or noise. ‘Fuel cell generators have been commercial since 1990, but now we are approaching a tipping point,’ he says. ‘It really is a paradigm shift.’ Fuel cells can convert biogas into electricity through a process similar to the one used in batteries, but obstacles have

Bioenergy Insight

blocked the synergies between biogas and the fuel cell. That is changing rapidly however, as new breakthroughs in biogas treatment technologies have allowed fuel cells to process biogas to generate electricity. Significantly, new manufacturing techniques have lessened the amount of precious metals needed to make fuel cells, especially the molten carbonate models Anaergia has been deploying. In October, the world’s largest biogas powered fuel cell generator went live in California’s Inland Empire

Utility Agency (IEUA). ‘It is the biggest renewable fuel cell application, and bigger is better for economies of scale,’ Sharma says. At IEUA, biogas is being generated through anaerobic digestion of wastewater solids — an previous offal stream has been dispose of. The biogas is then ‘cleaned’ with Anaergia’s technology before the molten carbonate fuel cells convert it to electricity. FCRI’s mission, Sameulsen says, is to accelerate the development and deployment of practical systems into

the market, and to explore and demonstrate strategies that racket up efficiency and take down pollutant emissions per kilowatt hour. Because of his promotion of fuel cells, Samuelsen was asked by the California Water Control Board in 2010 to provide state utilities with a tutorial on the condition of the market and potential deployment of fuel cells. One of the examples he discussed was wastewater treatment facilities. ‘IEUA became interested in fuel cells and they were considering options

January/February 2013 • 51


Bioenergy fuel cells to cut emissions,’ Samuelsen tells Bioenergy Insight. Ultimately, the agency decided to go with the fuel cell; it had been looking at options and was interested in third party providers who could provide power purchase agreements with little capital layout. ’It was going to cost $12 million (€8.8 million) to put post-combustion treatments on those two engines,’ says Tom Love, manager of IEUA. ‘In looking at alternative methods to generate electricity we came across the fuel cell solution.’ IEUA did indeed see benefits. As molten carbonate fuel cells operate at temperatures over 600 ˚c, the high temperature required to heat them allows plants to get rid of their boilers and emissions associated with them. A boiler just generates heat, whereas fuel cells generate heat and electricity. ‘High efficiency fuel conversion with waste heat recovery is the perfect match for a lot of industrial facilities,’ Samuelsen says. ‘IEUA was able to see that.’ Ontario After consulting with FCRI about its options, the wastewater treatment facility in San Bernadino County, California, serving a 242 mile area, began soliciting proposals on how it could gain independence from the grid and its reliance on natural gas. ‘We chose Aenergia based on its proposal along with its technical and financial capability,’ Love says. ‘Ultimately, we want to be gridless, plus we want other agencies to look at this facility and know that they can do similar things.’ Anaergia designed, built, financed, owns and operates the 2.8MW facility capable of treating up to 44 million gallons per day of wastewater. It will offset approximately 60% of IEUA’s grid dependence. The system eliminates the need to combust the biogas, reducing NOx and particulate matter emissions from the

52 • January/February 2013

installed fuel cell system by 70% to 90% compared to typical internal combustion engines. ‘It’s a reliable power source that generates long-term cost savings,’ Sharma says. ‘Our flexibility to offer power purchase agreements allows our customers to reduce emissions with little capital investment. Love adds: ‘We are also protecting our customers. Entering into a long-term power purchase agreement is a hedge against future escalation of electricity costs.’ Apart from input costs, the fuel cell is helping IEUA deal with some stringent emission regulations. The combustion engines the utility once used to generate electricity produce NOx and a higher amount of emissions now they’ve been decommissioned. ‘When you talk about zero emissions for criteria pollutants, it is attractive for permitting purposes. In fact, fuel cells that operate off natural gas do not need permitting at all. Biogas needs some permitting but it is much easier to get a permit when your papers say ‘zero emissions’ And a fuel cell is more efficient at converting the same amount of biogas into electricity than an engine, so it is a wonderful alternative to combustion,’ Samuelsen says. Anaergia adds there is a big market for wastewater treatment plants because they offer a dedicated waste stream. The waste is a renewable resource for energy, and the organic wastewater solids are easier to treat than other feedstocks. ‘At landfills for instance, there are a lot of decomposed impurities and a fuel cell needs a vey controlled and balanced diet to keep it in a healthy state,’ Sharma says, adding that ‘gas clean-up’ has always been the challenge for fuel cells to process the waste stream effectively. ‘Powering fuel cells with biogas has been problematic — some have worked and some haven’t. While there have been some major breakthroughs,

it is still a technology in need of development.’ When it comes to biogas to electricity generation from a fuel cell, the learning curve has been in developing ‘skids’ to clean the biogas. ‘We had to design for stages of conditioning before we had a system that would allow the gas to pass through the fuel cell without poisoning it,’ Sharma adds. More developments, continued work Hot biogas that has not been properly cleaned can poison the fuel cell, and they do have a limited lifespan. ‘Scientists are currently exploring corrosion-resistant materials for components as well as fuel cell designs that increase cell life without decreasing performance,’ Samuelsen says. ‘The success of biogas in high temperature fuel cells has been adding to the credibility and I think we are at a tipping point,’ he adds. Apart from science, growth is also being driven by regulations as federal and state officials have been putting a lot of pressure on utility agencies to cut emissions. Certain products like United Technologies Power Pure Cell are able to meet the most stringent air emissions standards as set by the California Air Resources Board (CARB 07), which has been considered around the world to be pioneering legislation in support of bioenergy. ‘They’re becoming very popular,’ Samuelsen continues. ‘When you talk about zero net emissions and some of the regulations that companies are having to deal with, industries are recognising the true benefits.’ One of these is the data storage industry. It is said that the power needed to support the 61 billionkWh of energy for data storage in the US is responsible for a staggering percentage of greenhouse gas emissions in the country. Therefore, companies like Fujitsu and Microsoft have been

installing or experimenting with fuel cells. Microsoft unveiled details in November of an experimental small data centre it plans to build next to a wastewater treatment plant in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Like IEUA’s system, the tiny data centrr will be powered by a fuel cell that uses biogas from the water facility, and Microsoft will ‘use the test project to learn how it can scale clean power resources for its other large data centres, and also to figure out how to enable its data centres to become less reliant on the power grid,’ the company said in a statement. More announcements of new fuel cell installations hit the airwaves all the time and, for Sameulsen, who has devoted his career to this technology, the possibilities seem endless. ‘At the Orange County Department of Sanitation experiments are ongoing with “tri-generation” of electricity, heat and hydrogen-electricity and heat for the facility and hydrogen for its vehicles. It really is the epitome of sustainability,’ he reveals. He is also optimistic about the potential of shared biogas resources to power fuel cells. Historically, biogas has had to be used up quickly at the spot it is generated. ‘There will be opportunities for agencies to use biogas in the future even if they do not have a dedicated waste stream. There are fuel cells in a lot of applications operating off natural gas, that could contract to have biogas wheeled or directed from another facility through a pipeline,’ Sameulsen adds. ‘Right now there is a landfill in Point Loma, California that is wheeling biogas to the University of California, San Diego, to power fuel cells. So biogas can be shipped through a natural gas pipeline and we soon might start to see that happening on a massive scale with fuel cells operating off biogas generated hundreds of miles away. That’s where all this is heading.’ l

Bioenergy Insight


finance Bioenergy What are the key components every project needs to make sure they are attractive to a ‘buyer’, whether it be an equity partner, bank or other private financier?

Finding the buyer

W

ithin the current climate of challenging country financial horizons, changing banking regulations, and high demand for capital from other, more established markets, it is now more essential than ever to properly plan and execute at the development stage. What are some of the common mistakes that developers are making today? Brent Hilliard, president of the Hilliard Companies, has developed over 2,000MW of renewable energy projects. Based out of west Texas, he is presently opening an office in India to broaden his scope. He states that most lenders want bioenergy projects that have been fully de-risked, yet the failure to do this is a common mistake with developers. The top 10 common mistakes that Hilliard has seen repeatedly include failing to: 1 Make sure the title is free and clear of any encumbrances, and that any existing encumbrances do not affect intended operations. If there are any, you should obtain Subordination and NonDisturbance Agreements. 2 Address the longterm geopolitical and currency risk 3 Make sure the equipment supply agreements balance the warranty risk and adequately backstop the financial obligations associated therewith 4 Provide sound engineering and design for the bioenergy project. These reports should account for all associated risks of the various aspects of the

Bioenergy Insight

project. Pay particular attention to grid stability and any associated losses. The timing and cost of any upgrades should be fully understood. 5 Make sure that all EPC contracts, plus material and supply contracts with counterparties are financially sound and have a good track record. 6 Quantify the fuel and water source(s) to ensure that there is a clear risk-free path to the long-term supply thereof and then adequately contract for the same 7 Incorporate proven technology that will serve the bioenergy project for its contracted life and one that is not reliant on a single fuel supplier or fuel source. 8 Build into the financial model parts replacement over the life of the bioenergy project 9 Properly tie development term time lines to government financial incentives 10 Consider how the bioenergy project power price competes with other energy power sources. To offset the risk of nonperformance and/or lowerthan-expected performance issues, manufacturing warrantees and EPC guarantees are necessary. Some key discussion points to consider when negotiating with a manufacturer regarding warrantees and mechanical failures are the term or length of time of a particular warranty and whether the term can be extended. Additional considerations

include the definition of a defect, limitations on a warranty for acts caused by third parties, such as operation and maintenance personnel, and the remedial measures a contractor may take to cure any defect. Once the developer has selected the best components for a site and negotiated the optimum contractual arrangement, the final hurdle is to ensure that collection is obtainable should the contract or warranty be breached. Most manufacturers offer a warranty and maintenance package for a period of time after commissioning. Such a warranty would include replacement of defective components, scheduled maintenance, and an availability warranty (typically between 95% and 97%). In addition, performance warranties that include noise and power curve guarantees are typically offered, but are usually only valid for a limited number of years from commissioning. It is imperative to thoroughly review the manufacture’s credit rating, liability exposure and caps under the warranties. The contract liability should be no less than 100% of the contract price. Developers should be cognizant of sub-limits for delay and performance-liquidated damages and availability guarantees. Developers should ensure that these caps are sufficient to cover debt payments and any penalties under the Power Purchase Agreement. ‘Developers must insist on tight commercial terms,’ Hilliard recommends, ‘which

effectively mitigate all risk for the supply of a bankable bioenergy project from reputable and financially sound suppliers. This is especially true in new foreign markets, where investor confidence has not matured.’ Special attention should be given to the impact of the contract terms; not only on the ease and cost of raising equity and debt finance, but also on the cost of constructing, owning, and operating the bioenergy project. A concerted approach to the manufacturer selection process and contract negotiation will lead to a high-quality and successful bioenergy project and will contribute to a financially sound venture ultimately benefiting the developer for the entire life of the project. Mark Riedy, partner at Mintz Levin, Washington D.C, US, is a seasoned renewable energy professional and has counselled renewable and conventional energy and infrastructure clients doing business in 50 countries. He says that the strength of the feedstock contract can make or break the project. ‘Not many companies are creditworthy feedstock suppliers. I have seen it happen that the utility company would not sign the PPA because the feedstock company did not have the credentials that the utility was looking for. There were also issues with other manufacturers that were drawing, or proposing to draw, feedstock from the same area.’ Choosing the right piece of property is another key issue. Bioenergy projects

January/February 2013 • 53


Bioenergy finance should be located as close to the fuel and water source as possible to reduce transportation costs, be sited as close to existing transmission as possible, have local community acceptance, and fully comply with all local state and federal environmental regulations. Along with finding the right piece of property is the risk analysis focusing on the permits required and the timeline that it will take to obtain the permits. Current economic and regional agricultural conditions can also drive the project into the ground for the lack of price parity of renewable electricity in comparison with other sources. An example came a few years ago when a company in west Texas wanted to raise biomass for renewable fuels and electricity. Even though the area is rich in irrigation and farmland, the feedstock study that they completed showed that there were only two sources of biomass that were not being totally used: manure and cotton gin trash. Even trying to develop those sources using small gasification systems were not successful. In addition, the rich natural gas reserves and abundant wind power in the region preclude any biomass electrical plant from being profitable. Brazil is another interesting biomass study in economics and the drivers that can affect biomass projects. With ethanol production falling, Petrobras is importing $2.6 billion (€2 billion) of petrol this year, and it is more advantageous for bagasse to be used to make cellulosic ethanol rather than to convert to lower priced electricity. Most advanced biofuels technologies that use biomass for a feedstock also have a renewable power component. During the development process, both the fuel and the power

54 • January/February 2013

components must be properly planned and accounted for. Beta Renewables, a joint venture between Chemtex International, TPG, and Novozymes, is utilising the Preosa technology in three commercial lignocellulosic production facilities distributed in very different geographic areas: Crescentino, Italy; Brazil; and North Carolina, US. Paolo Carollo, executive VP of Chemtex International, says it is important to optimise

opportunities that are locally available for byproducts. Also a flexible approach to OSBL (Outside Battery Limit) allows accommodating different drivers that investors or partners might have, enhancing the possibilities for colocations, partnerships and increasing focus on the core of the technology platform, in this case lignocellulosic fuels and bio-based chemicals. Most technologies associated with renewable power are commercially

He states that the debt leverage ratios should start out low (~20-40% debt) on facilities that are nonoptimised (e.g. cash flows are less relevant than ensuring that the technology works at a given level). The second and third plant should be able to support debt pursuant to the strength and durability of the cash flows. His biggest concern? He says the biggest risk is during start up and commissioning when the rubber meets

plant configurations in relation to the specific market conditions. Having inbuilt flexibility in the technology that allows leveraging on downstream opportunities for byproducts or renewable power is key, since it allows maximising the profitability of the project and to take advantage of the specific local opportunities. The way in which the power component can play a role in the project really depends on the level of feed-in tariffs in the specific region and from other

available; however, there are new improvements and new cost-saving technologies being developed for renewable power every day. Bret Turner, VP at Silicon Valley Bank in Denver, Colorado works to finance many companies in the cleantech field. He says that a common mistake made by developers is skipping the scale-up steps necessary to validate the technology. It becomes increasingly harder to raise funds at higher valuations, thus they try short-cuts.

the road: ‘Do the results match the proforma? Are the yield and operating costs what was expected?’ Many developers don’t plan to fail, but often they fail to plan. By using these guidelines and planning out each step of the process, developers should be able to save time, money, and find that next ‘buyer’ successfully. l For more information:

This article was written by Cindy Thyfault, founder and CEO Westar Trade Resources, www.westartrade.com

Bioenergy Insight


Bioenergy Don’t miss your chancexxto appear in the March/April issue of Bioenergy Insight magazine

FRACTIONATION

CORN OIL EXTRACTION

Technological advances within this space have accelerated substantially of late due to its great economic potential. What technologies offer the best yield at the best available price?

TORREFACTION

What fractionation technologies exist and how are they impacting the yield and quality of biomass components: lignin, cellulose and hemicellulose?

DRYING TECHNOLOGY

Co-firing biomass with coal requires a retrofitted facility. Wood pellets require dedicated storage silos. Could torrefied biomass, with advanced handling and co-firing capabilities, offer a trouble-free, advantageous solution?

Biomass drying is a key factor determining any plant’s processing efficiency. With such a vast choice of dryers with a range of types, temperatures and configurations, what system best suits each application?

SEPARATION TECHNOLOGY

LOADING/ CONVEYORS

Separation techniques vary drastically depending on the type of biomass being handled. A collection of case studies from biomass companies, sharing what separation technology they have installed and why.

REGIONAL FOCUS: US

What solutions do biomassfired power plants rely on to ensure the safe and efficient transportation of biomass from storage to the boiler?

FEEDSTOCK FOCUS

Dedicated energy crops such as switchgrass, miscanthus and sorghum

Bonus distribution:

International Biomass Conference & Expo, US European Biomass to Power, London European Algae Summit, Austria Elmia Wood, Sweden Deadline for editorial and artwork: 15 March For advertising information and prices in North America contact Matt Weidner, +1 215 962 0872, mtw@weidcom.com For the rest of the globe contact Anisha Patel, +44 (0) 203 551 5752, anisha@bioenergy-news.com For editorial suggestions contact margaret@bioenergy-news.com, +44 (0)208 687 4126 Bioenergy Insight January/February 2013 • 55


Bioenergy biogas storage Glass-fused-to-steel AD tanks are proving popular with one UK-based farm as it prepares to enjoy a long future of trouble-free operations

Home and dry at Dryholme Farm

D

ryholme Farm in Cumbria, UK has been operating for over 20 years with its core business being the production of animal and poultry feeds. When considering its future, the farm realised that some form of diversification was necessary to further develop the business. It was decided that an anaerobic digestion (AD) plant would fit the business model as it can utilise the waste animal and poultry feeds into a source of renewable energy. The engineering, construction and project management tasks were awarded to anaerobic digestion tank manufacturer Kirk Environmental, part of Kirk Group, while Farmgen,

Kirk Enviornmentals glass-fusedto-steel tanks with Biodome roof

an AD plant developer, manager and operator, was responsible for the facility’s process design technology. The partnership proved to be a successful one. The number of interfaces to be managed was kept to a minimum, leading to an efficient decision making process at the front end and, as the plant progressed, allowed changes and improvements to be made with limited impact to cost and programme. Today the plant uses grass and maize silage grown on the farm and in the surrounding area to produce 1.2MW of electricity, enough continuous power for more than 2,200 Cumbrian homes. The key infrastructure of the plant consists of

three 3,000-tonne glassfused-to-steel AD tanks complete with Biodome double membrane roofs. The biogas produced as part of the AD process is captured in the Biodome roofs before it is cleaned and sent to the combined heat and power (CHP) unit, which works as the engine of the plant, where electricity is produced for exporting to the National Grid. Investigations are currently underway as to the utilisation of the heat from the CHP for drying feed and heating on the farm. ‘The project was operational within nine months of initial site preparation,’ comments Andrew Peace, MD at Kirk Group. To deliver the project, Kirk manufactured as much of the critical equipment as possible

off-site while groundwork and civil works were undertaken, thus limiting the on-site time to a minimum and reducing the overall programme from start to finish. ‘On top of this there was the buying-in of key players within the delivery to isolate their part of the contract and so commit to the programme and delivery at a early stage, with the clamps being constructed and near completion prior to Kirk installing the bases for the tanks,’ Peace adds. ‘All the parts for critical elements of the plant were pre-engineered and manufactured off-site, ready to fit with the least amount of on-site resources possible; this was a key driver in the overall on-site safety record of the project which was delivered without incidents.’ The benefits The AD plant manages to feed not only its own land bank of materials - approximately 368 acres - but also a further

56 • January/February 2013

Bioenergy Insight


biogas storage Bioenergy 700 acres from local farmers, supporting the sustainability of their farm operations. A model which supports the farming community and at the same time cuts carbon footprint emissions places the development of the AD and farming sectors in a positive position. The generation of renewable energy while utilising surplus heat and disposing of mineral-rich digestate is an encouraging step towards reaching the UK government’s targets on the amount of energy required to be produced by renewable materials. AD has the potential to produce 10% of the gas used in the UK by utilising farm models based on AD, as long as the plants have flexibility and standards of design incorporated. The installation of an AD plant at Dryholme Farm means every tonne of animal slurry produced at the site is recycled to make energy. Additionally, every MWh of power generated by the plant will save the equivalent of 1MWh of highly carbonintensive power created from traditional fossil fuel burning power stations. Adding to these benefits, the plant was designed to be less visually obstructive compared to other forms of power generation, also minimising both noise and odour for nearby residents. The products Kirk Environmental’s glassfused-to-steel tanks are manufactured by leading tank technology providers. The high temperature fusion of glass to steel fired at approximately 850˚c results in an inert, durable finish. This is the only tank finish where two materials are fused together, a method which achieves both the strength and flexibility of steel combined with the corrosion resistance of glass. Applied to both interior and exterior surfaces, it is able to withstand the rigours of the

Bioenergy Insight

The AD plant produces 1.2MW for Dryholme Farm

construction site and provide many years of trouble-free service in harsh environments. The Biodome double membrane gas holder is manufactured from high strength membrane and is available in a range of sizes up to 20,000m³. 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 system is a costeffective solution for a reliable fuel source for a range of functions. Biogas storage for energy use is an easy and effective way for existing municipal, industrial and agricultural facilities producing waste to create low energy, whether for powering the plant itself or selling back to utilities. Farmgen feedback Hardy Radke, MD of Farmgen and Dryholme Biogas states: ‘Like all processes relating to renewable energies, it is very important to integrate infrastructure development, process design and construction from the start. Risks for delays are minimised as lost construction time means lost income and increasing costs which can’t be recovered.’ Since the successful delivery

of the Dryholme project, Simon Rigby, non-executive director of Farmgen, has acquired a stake in the Kirk Group business, taking a 33% interest with an investment of £2 million (€2.4 million). Prior to the Dryholme

project, Kirk supplied Farmgen with the key infrastructure for another AD plant in Warton, near Preston, currently generating 800kW of electricity, the equivalent of powering more than 1,500 homes. l

WWW.LOTUSMIXERS.COM LOTUS MIXERS is an industry leader in agitation technology and application. With extensive experience and R&D, we can supply you the right mixer for your green energy application – cellulosic ethanol, corn-based ethanol, biogas/biomass anaerobic digesters. Types of Agitators: • Top Entry Agitators (up to 1000HP) • Side Entry Mixers (Fixed and Swivel Angle – Gear or Belt Driven) • Portable Mixers • Static Mixers

26ft diameter Hydrofoil Impeller

Contact Us For Your Next Application: Phone: 1(941) 966-1885 • Email: info@lotusmixers.com Mailing address: P.O. Box 704 Nokomis, Florida 34274, USA

January/February 2013 • 57


Bioenergy xxxxxx

54 • January/February 2013

Bioenergy Insight


mixers Bioenergy Implementing pre- and finish-drying technology could improve efficiency in the plant, as well as cutting costs

Top dewatering technologies

I

n most processing industries, the amount of water involved in processing has an inverse relationship with end profit. In other words, excess water at any point in the process is expensive. A variety of options exist on the market for pre-drying biomass and biofuels.

ship unnecessarily heavy material. If the waste is only being transported to the local landfill, considerable savings can still be obtained when product weight is reduced by drying. Costs associated with labour and handling are also cut down because material in cake form is generally much easier to handle than sludge.

Transportation

Mixing

The savings from dewatered material begin and end with transportation. Dry material is substantially lighter than moist material and takes up less space, making it less expensive to transport. If the waste products are intended for resale to national or international clients, this becomes especially important, as each additional mile of travel translates to additional cost. Even if water must be added prior to delivery to a customer, it may be more cost effective to arrange for water injection after the material has arrived in its final destination than to

Mixing may seem far upstream from the drying process, but drying efficiency can start as early as this step. The benefits of a custom-built, applicationtested mixer are already well known: faster processing times, reduced maintenance costs, higher quality end product. But the right mixer accurately designed and sized to your specifications can also set the product up for efficient drying. Wellmixed material is consistent throughout and dries at a more uniform rate with less likelihood of scorching or burning. The addition of highshear choppers to the mixer

Bioenergy Insight

(as shown below) improves drying efficiency even more by reducing the size of the individual particles within the mix. As the size of each piece is reduced, the overall surface area that will be exposed to the air increases. This means drying goes faster and, if the dried waste is intended for any type of fuel recovery (for example use as biomass or for combustion), that process will also be more efficient. Boiler efficiency Not all industrial and food waste will go into a boiler or gasifier as biomass (not even the majority of it), but for waste that does end up being reused in this way, improved boiler efficiency may be the biggest potential area for savings. Most biomass processors send wet or moist material directly to the gasifier or boiler, which is used both to dry and treat the material. But boilers are not efficient dryers and unnecessary energy is expended when they are used to perform both functions.

The equipment is not used to its fullest spatial potential either. When moist product is both dried and combusted in a boiler, for example, extra space must be left in the boiler for air in order to prevent smoke formation, cutting down on the amount of actual product that can be processed at one time. Using a boiler to dry product can mean sacrificing up to 50% of the machine’s capacity, depending on the material being processed. When material is pre-treated through a dryer, a boiler can be filled to its true capacity, increasing output or may be downsized for a reduction in equipment costs. Storage As material size is reduced during the dewatering process, less space is required to store the waste. This could result in lower land filling and disposal costs, or, if the material is meant for resale, extra time for producers to find buyers as demand for waste as fertiliser is not

January/February 2013 • 59


Bioenergy mixers uniform throughout the year. Dry material is also far less susceptible to quality threats such as mice and mould, making it better adapted to store over the long-term. Economics Drying waste materials for processing industries and municipal plants is critical not only for reducing/ recycling waste but also for producing energy from waste. Municipal solid waste (MSW), refuse derived fuel (RDF), food processing plants and any industrial plant that is producing a waste stream that is being landfilled could provide a potential impact for energy production. Many conventional drying technologies to date are not cost effective. The heating requirements to remove 1lb of water can be between 1,300 and 3,500 Btu/lb (3,000-8,100kj/kg).1 The capital operating cost of drying equipment can range from $10-362/lb per hour (€7.4-269) of water removed using a conventional rotary style dryer.2 Organic source material may be mechanically dewatered or pre-dried in a dryer to form a moisture-reduced organic source material. The impact of these technologies to lower VOC emissions could be significant. The final product may become a disinfected nutrient fertilizer or combustible fuel source that may be used as is, or alternatively upgraded as a fuel source for incineration, to produce heat, electrical or mechanical power. The combination of a mechanical dewatering system and a finishing dryer may provide an energy efficient feedstock output for diverse processing industries, ranging from waste-to-energy facilities to the food processing industry. Input variables for analysis include: properties of the feedstock (present moisture, particle size

60 • January/February 2013

distribution and the ultimate and proximate analysis, process conditions (i.e. drier or compaction temperature), feedstock residence time, ventilation rate and additive levels. Output variables for analysis include: final moisture content, emission of volatile organic loss and changes in other physical or chemical properties of the feedstock.

Equipment overview Mixers A wide range of principles are applied for mixing solid substances. Therefore, there are many different types of industrial mixers. Common industrial process mixer types for biomass and biosolids processing include: • Paddle — they have a horizontal rotating shaft with fixed arms and paddles that scoop and lift • Ribbon — they have a helix shaped, counter-transport mechanism that scrubs product on product • Screw — they use a rotating screw that moves around the periphery of a hopper • Drum — the drum rotates continuously, allowing the product to be mixed

from entry to exit. • Fluidised-bed — are vessels that throw particles into the air (fluidised zone) causing dispersion. • Planetary — they have two mixing blades that rotate around individual shafts to stir ingredients. Paddle Style agitators are specially designed to scoop, lift and tumble materials in a gentle, but thorough mixing action. While being mixed, the material travels in a three dimensional ‘figure 8’ pattern. The material is constantly pulled from the ends of the mixer to the middle of the ‘figure 8’ where the mixing is taking place. This paddle design is ideal for mixing solids, pastes or slurries of various particle size, density and viscosity. A gentle scooping action is ideal for blending fragile ingredients such as nuts or fiberglass strands. Paddle mixers work effectively when filled to as little as 20% of rated capacity, thus allowing flexibility of batch sizes. Paddle style agitators allow easier access for cleaning between batches. However, with the high-speed chopper accessory, a minimum of 50% volume is necessary.

Double ribbon agitators are capable of performing a variety of mixing operations. These agitators are excellent for free flowing materials. Ribbon mixers are designed for thorough end to end mixing. Two inner spirals move the product away from the discharge, while the two outer flightings move the material back toward the discharge opening. The mixing action occurs by rolling the material back and forth, scrubbing against itself. This design provides a continuous spiral from the end of the mixer to the discharge. There are no gaps in the flighting to interrupt product flow and create ‘pockets’ of stagnant material. The ribbon design includes two sets of flighting on both the inner and outer spirals. Each spiral is positioned 180 degrees out of phase. The additional flighting provides twice the mixing action of a single ribbon mixer. Increased shear action of a ribbon mixer can be beneficial for breaking clumps and creating heat for coating sugar products. In comparison to the paddle design, a minimum of 50% of the rated working capacity is required. In addition to main shaft agitators many mixer designs

Paddle-style agitator in horizontal mixer

Bioenergy Insight


mixers Bioenergy A new approach using a semi-continuous hydraulic press system may also be designed to capture the wastewater for extraction and purification and in some cases turning waste water into a saleable commodity or reusable plant resource. • Belt filter press These are one of the main dewatering technologies in use in the industry because of their low cost, simplicity and reasonably good performance. However, belt press installations generally require an operator to monitor operations on a frequent basis. Recent improvements such as the 3-belt press use independent belts in one machine to decouple the thickening and dewatering process which maximizes throughput.

Ribbon-style agitator in horizontal mixer

offer other high-intensity components that break up lumps and agglomerates and add shear for additional dispersion. These optional accessories are called choppers, intensifiers or homogenisers. They are mechanical devices that create a stable, uniform dispersion of an insoluble phase within a liquid phase. When used with horizontal batch mixers they are directly coupled to independent motors and can rotate at or above 3,600 rpm. One or more chopper assemblies can be mounted to the curved part of the mixer trough. As the main agitator rotates, agglomerates are drawn across the blades by the main agitator. Mechanical dewatering devices Dewatering has seen significant focus in recent years because it has such a significant effect on downstream processes, such as transportation, drying, incineration and the wastewater treatment process as well. Mechanical dewatering devices used to free liquid from material are commonly used in the pulp and

Bioenergy Insight

paper industries, municipal biosolids, food production, food waste, manure and also within the chemical industry. Some notable dewatering devices include: • Hydraulic dewatering press For fibrous or bulk solid materials that are saturated with liquid, a hydraulic dewatering press may be a consideration. Applications include: waste water sludge, water plant slurries, pulp and paper byproducts, mineral and aggregate slurry, food process waste, industrial waste water, septic tank sludge, grease trap sludge, food process sludge, and slurries and manures. When a mixer is used to pre-mix the material with a catalyst or other material as a binder prior to pressing it’s possible to take a 10% to 20% solid to a 65% to 75% solid output in some hydraulic presses. The last 30% moisture is typically the most difficult to take out. A finishing dryer may even achieve an 85% to 95% solid suitable for incineration, pyrolysis or gasification.

• Centrifuge Centrifuge dewatering has long been the choice of many utilities, especially large ones, because of their high throughput and good performance. One drawback has been the power consumption, which on average may be 5 to 10 times greater than other systems. • Dewatering screw press This separates liquids from solids. A screw press can be used in place of a belt press, centrifuge, or filter paper. It is a simple, slow moving device that accomplishes dewatering by continuous gravitational drainage. Screw presses are often used for materials that are difficult to press, for example those that tend to pack together. The screw press squeezes the material against a screen or filter and the liquid is collected through the screen for collection and use. Twin-screw presses contain two overlapping compression screws. This is more complicated on a mechanical

level because the screws must remain synchronized in order for them to work properly. These are often used for slippery materials and feature an internal shredding action. Summary Technologies used for biomass and biosolids processing and handling are continuously evolving. Some of this evolution is a result of manufacturers trying to develop the ‘better mouse trap,’ but there are many other drivers that affect technology trends. These include social and political policies encouraging full resource recovery, increasing fuel costs, reducing greenhouse gases, economic factors, regulations and others. Improved dewatering will help reduce overall costs, reduce fossil fuel consumption for processing and transportation and reduce some solids intended for landfills. l For more information:

This article was written by McKenzie Fritch at Marion Mixers. Contact Greg Stover, VP of business development, stoverg@marionmixers.com

References

1 Intercontinental Engineering (1980) Study of Hog Fuel Drying Systems, Canadian Electrical Association, prepared by Intercontinental Engineering Mercer, A (1994) Learning with Industrial Drying Technology, Sittard, Netherlands: CADDET Amos, W.A., (1988) Report on Biomass Drying Technology, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, pp.19-22 2 Fredrikson, R.W. (1984) Forest Residue Fuel Pre-Drying Economic Analysis, Biomass Fuel Drying Conference Proceedings, Superior, Wisconsin. St. Paul MN: Office of special programs, University of Minnesota, pp.1-16 MacCallum, C., Blackwell, B.R., Torsein, L. (1981) Cost Benefit Analysis of Systems using Flue Gas or Steam for Drying of Wood Waste Feedstocks, Final Report DDS. Canadian Forst Service. Work performed by Sandwell & Co., Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Amos, W.A., (1988) Report on Biomass Drying Technology, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, pp.19-22

January/February 2013 • 61


Bioenergy moisture Moisture affects the ability to manufacture pellets. While some moisture is necessary, excessive amounts increase the weight and affect product quality

Managing moisture

T

he wood and biomass fuel pellet market has exploded over the last few years. The high cost and large variance in fossil fuel prices due to political upheaval coupled with their impact on the environment has driven the development and refining of the fuel pellet manufacturing market. Fuel pellets are easy to handle and burn more efficiently than wood logs due to their lower moisture content. The pellets also produce more heat and less ash (1-2%) and smoke than wood logs. Wood pellets have a calorific value of approximately 17.5MJ/kg compared to 10.9MJ/kg for non-pelleted, non-dried wood and reduce the overall carbon footprint of energy by 75% or more when compared to coal. Wood and biomass fuel pellets can also be manufactured from waste wood, trees, straw and other renewable resources. Many larger mills receive tree logs from local forests of uniform quality to keep transportation costs low. The log moisture ranges from 25-55%. They also receive waste wood and sawdust from sawmills, OSB plants and wood scrap from other sources. Saw dust and shavings can have moisture as low as 5-12%. These materials are delivered by truck or rail car and stacked in large separate mounds outside the mill. Moisture impacts pellet quality, energy consumption and transportation costs. The proper blending of these varying moisture materials is critical to efficiently produce a quality product.

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Wood pellet process flow chart

The wood pellet manufacturing process includes size reduction, drying, mixing/conditioning, pellet manufacture and removing fines prior to packaging. Wood Logs: These go through a debarking process and are chipped to a uniform size prior to screening to remove fines and separate the coarse and fine chips. The coarse chips are then ground to reduce their size for quick, even drying. Raw material mix selection: A front loader operator selects sawdust and chips from the various mounds to load into

the plant feed system in an attempt to achieve optimum moisture content. The raw material is typically measured with a Near-Infrared (NIR) moisture transmitter mounted on the conveyor belt with an ideal feedstock approximately 15-20% in moisture. Screening and size reduction: The raw materials are screened to separate the fines and coarse chips. The coarse chips are reduced in size with the hammer mill to approximately 3mm and the combined output is again mixed and stored in high moisture

(above 10%) and low moisture bins allowing the moisture to equilibrate in each. The particle size and moisture has an impact on both quality and productivity. A NIR moisture transmitter assists in the sorting process to determine which storage bin is selected. Similarly, moisture transmitters mounted on the conveyors that carry the product to production allow for feed forward control of the dryer. Drying and conditioning: The bin sawdust is conveyed to a large drum dryer where the moisture is reduced to

Bioenergy Insight


moisture Bioenergy less than 10%. High moisture product will cause the pelletiser to plug, while over-drying the sawdust by as little as 1% can increase energy consumption by up to 20% per tonne. Extreme over-drying can result in a dusty environment prone to fires and poor pellet compacting and forming. The product must achieve a temperature sufficient for the wood’s lignin or ‘natural glue’ to begin melting for the purpose of binding the material in the press stage. A NIR moisture transmitter with an internal or external IR temperature device ensures correct moisture and product temperature. The moisture transmitters are installed at the inlet and exit of the dryer. The 4-20 mA analogue output can be used to control throughput to achieve product set point. The material is conveyed to a cyclone dryer that cools the product and removes water vapour. High product temperatures can damage pellet mill components such as the rollers, bearings, die and seals. The sawdust is sometimes conditioned with steam to accelerate the lignin melting process, and some manufacturers may also add binders or lubricants to reduce the load on the pellet mill motor, producing a higher energy (BTU) pellet in a batch mixer or blender. NIR analysers can also measure hydrocarbon resins in addition to moisture. Pellet mill on-line moisture transmitter When the processed sawdust is rolled prior to pressing, NIR transmitters are employed to ensure proper moisture for sawdust compression in the mill die and the distance between the mill die and roller determines where the moisture transmitter is mounted. The analogue output can be fed into a Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) that manages the compression and speed of the press to ensure uniform pellets with consistent density.

Bioenergy Insight

The soft hot pellets are cooled with forced air and are then screened to recover fines that are recycled. Their final moisture content is between 5 and 8% and either bagged, sent to railcars, trucks or domes for shipment, or to silos for storage. Pellets that are stored in silos are susceptible to ambient humidity. If the pellets have been stored for a time, their moisture is again measured prior to packaging to ensure product quality. Enviva Ahoskie case study Enviva is one of the largest manufacturers of wood pellets in Europe and the US, producing

for use on solid materials. Shirley Rountree, quality control manager at Enviva’s Ahoskie facility says: ‘Moisture affects our ability to manufacture pellets. Some moisture is necessary to the manufacturing process and to ensure pellets are of necessary strength. Excessive moisture can unnecessarily increase the weight or can degrade the quality of the finished product, and can have negative implications for the combustion process. ‘Moisture measurement enables us to ensure that our product is consistent and that our equipment is operating optimally. We typically

Sensor in pellet mill

more than 825,000 tonnes a year which go on to be used as clean, sustainable, renewable woody biomass by industrialscale customers. Enviva has US manufacturing and partner facilities in Mississippi, Virginia and North Carolina. Enviva’s Ahoskie plant in North Carolina has an annual production capacity of approximately 350,000 tonnes of wood pellets. It incorporates NIR moisture transmitters as a component in its proprietary manufacturing process. The Ahoskie facility has been operating Process Sensors’ NIR moisture transmitters for approximately two years and plans on expanding the technology in the plant. Process Sensors is a manufacturer of continuous NIR moisture transmitters

measure moisture in the 5 to 15% range. We sample in addition to our on-line measurement, which enables us to alter operations in real time without waiting for test results. In addition, samples give us a narrow view of our feedstock whereas process moisture sensors are able to

give a more complete picture. It also improves product consistency. On-line moisture monitoring helps us optimise production which results in consistently high throughput.’ Asked what the value of moisture control is, Rountree responds: ‘Moisture control, above all else, is critical to optimising the manufacturing process and ensuring consistent quality in our product. Eliminating excess moisture also minimises transportation costs by reducing weight, an additional benefit of precise control.’ How do NIR moisture transmitters work? NIR transmitters work in the NIR region (1,200-2,400nm), selecting narrow band pass filters that allow specific wavelengths to be utilised for the measurement. The NIR is above the UV (sunburn) and visible colours of light, and below the IR (temperature) region of light. Moisture absorbs light at 1,420 and 1,940nm and one or both of these wavelengths are used as the ‘measure wavelength’. The more water present in the material, the less light reflected back at the water wavelength. Similarly, resin is measured at 1,760 or 2340nm. One or two non-absorbing wavelengths are chosen as ‘reference wavelengths’. l For more information:

This article was written by Greg Brown of Process Sensors, +1 (0) 508 473 9901

What to look for in a NIR moisture transmitter for wood pellet applications: • An accurate and reliable transmitter with a large digital display • An air purge assembly for plant air (3-5 psig) to keep the scanning window clean • A dual alarm for alerts and alarms • A proportional analogue output of 4-20 mA for control and • A digital output for data archiving • A set of calibration check standards for periodic system validation. Process Sensors MCT360-WP moisture transmitter meets these needs.

January/February 2013 • 63


Bioenergy gasification Gasification technology has the potential to help biomass-fired power plants reduce their costs by retrofitting existing coal boilers

Giving coal boilers a new lease of life

F

inland-based Vaskiluodon Voima recently invested in a new gasification unit at its Vaasa power plant site to increase the amount of renewable energy produced. The plant, which has been in continuous test-use generating power for electricity and district heating since the beginning of 2013, feeds the old pulverised coal

Vaskiluodon Voima, a utility company jointly owned by EPV Energia and Pohjolan Voima, operates two combined heat and power (CHP) plants in western Finland: its facility in Vaasa and a second in Seinäjoki. The two power plants supply the majority of the district heating needed in these cities, together producing a total 2-2.5TWh of electricity and

of 230MW of electricity and 175MW of district heating, this plant is about double the size of the Seinäjoki plant.

Blomberg says an important factor for installing the gasification unit was the opportunity to consume large quantities of biomass. In addition to the pressure

trading, feed-in tariffs as incentives for renewable energy and ‘environmental’ taxation. Feedstock flexibility also optimises fuel costs. Other key considerations in the gasification project included national goals and commitments from the EU to increase the proportion of renewable energy by 2020 and to maintain the general acceptability of the power

boiler with product gas which is combusted in the boiler alongside the main fuel. The introduction of gasification enables considerable reductions in coal consumption, ranging from 320,000 to 600,000 tonnes a year. According to Mauri Blomberg, Vaskiluodon Voima’s MD, gasification is ‘rather new in power generation’ and the company was curious to see how the process would work with the old boiler which was originally designed to combust pulverised coal. So far the test-use phase has not shown anything that would call into question the risk of analyses that were performed before the investment decision.

approximately 800GWh of heat. The Vaasa facility operates a pulverised bituminous coal-fired boiler. Heavy fuel oil is used as an auxiliary fuel source. With a capacity

to decrease the proportion of fossil fuels in line with today’s trends in the energy business, the investment decision was encouraged by such factors as CO2 emission

plant’s energy production. Capacity for electricity and district heating production did not increase, but the investment enables Vaskiluodon Voima to extend the service

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Project drivers

Metso’s delivery included a complete solution, including a CFB gasifier and modification work, for the existing coal-based boiler plant

Bioenergy Insight


gasification Bioenergy was considered to be most suitable due to the range of solid fuels it can handle, in addition to economic benefits. Blomberg says: ‘With this solution we can use the same amount of biomass we could with a new biomass boiler, but the investment in gasification was more attractive in financial terms.’ Full delivery Vaskiluodon Voima chose an experienced turnkey provider to supply the unit, as it was unfamiliar with gasification technology, in order to minimise known risks and avoid any unfamiliar challenges. Metso was awarded the contract for a complete solution, including biomass reception, preliminary handling, a large-scale KUVO belt dryer, a circulating fluidised bed (CFB) gasifier, modification work for the

existing coal-based boiler plant and electrification and automation. The automation delivery included operational, safety and reporting systems for fuel receiving and drying, and the gasifier. These systems were integrated into the Metso DNA system already in use at the plant and modified accordingly. The boiler control modifications enable flexible and efficient use of product gas in the boiler and support its operation with low emissions. The facility was built as part of the coal-fired power plant and retrofitted to the existing

boiler. With a capacity of 140MWth, this is the one of the largest biomass CFB gasifiers. Vaskiluodon Voima gasifies between 50 and 100% forest biomass, 0-5% reed canary grass and 0-50% peat. The fuel specifications for the gasifier are shown in figure 1. The gas produced is combusted alongside coal. Depending on the output of the boiler — i.e., the demand for electricity — this allows replacing between 25 and 40% of the coal with biomass, lowering the amount of CO2 emissions from fossil fuels by about 230,000 tonnes per year. l

Fuel type

Forest biomass

Peat

Moisture (% wt)

42-65

38-55

LHVAR (MJ/kg)

5-11

9-13

Ash (% wt DM)

0.4-4

3-6

Figure 1. Fuel specifications for the Vaskiluodon Voima gasification plant

The gasification unit could see Vaskiluodon Voima consume large quantities of biomass

The gasification process The gasification

process converts solid or liquid feedstock into combustible product gas. In CFB gasification, carbonaceous solid fuel such as woody biomass, bark, peat and wastederived fuel can be used. The CFB process involves auto-thermal gasification, whereby the heat required for the reactions is produced through combusting of some of the fuel. The rest of the fuel is converted into product gas in sub-stoichiometric conditions, with the typical air coefficient being 0.2-0.4.

Bioenergy Insight

The temperature required in a CFB gasification reactor is approximately 750-900°C. Biomass- and waste-derived fuels are particularly suited to CFB gasification because of their high reactivity. Moisture affects the product gas heating value most. The desired moisture content in CFB gasification for biomass- and wastederived fuels is lower than 40%, allowing for the extraction of product gas with good heating value while minimising the volume flow of product gas. The product gas contains

both chemical energy and detectable heat. Typical heating values of the product gas fall within the range of 3-7MJ/kg (LHV) and depend on the fuel quality, but on moisture content especially. The only losses are through hot bottom ash and heat losses from the outer surfaces of the reactor and the gas pipeline. The hot-gas efficiency of CFB gasification is approximately 96-98%. Roughly 20% of the heating value of the product gas that leaves the reactor can take the form of detectable heat. Therefore, if the product

gas is cooled down, it is vital to utilise the additional heat from the cooling. The most desirable compounds in the product gas are combustible CO, H2, CH4, and CxHy compounds. It also contains higher levels of hydrocarbon (tar), an advantageous fuel, however with the to potential to condense on surfaces at decreased temperatures. Therefore, the temperature of the product gas pipes must be kept sufficiently high for keeping tar from condensing on cool surfaces.

January/February 2013 • 65

Source: Vaskiluodon Voima

life of its existing plant unit. ‘The relatively short delivery time — approximately one and a half years — also supported our decision to invest in gasification,’ Blomberg adds. When the project began, local forest-based biomass was considered to be the most feasible option to replace coal. The plant uses forestry materials from within a 100km radius to produce 750-900GWh/year, and Vaskiluodon Voima has secured long-term contracts with local and global biomass suppliers to ensure fuel availability and cost efficiency. The woody residue is dried for a period of six to 12 months, after which it is chipped and transported to the power plant or to a terminal for later delivery. Once delivered to the power plant, the biomass is conveyed to the dryer and on to gasification. Gasification technology


Bioenergy mixing

Landia’s GasMix allows easy maintenance from outside the tank

More methane produced by Landia’s GasMix

A dairy farmer in northern Germany, producing over 250kWh of biogas, is on course to achieve his five year payback target after investing in an externally mounted mixing system that reduces feedstock into smaller particles

Making money through mixing

B

ernd Wiesen, who has 110 cows at his farm in Bremerworde, Germany, uses a feedstock comprising 25% dry manure with straw, 25% grass silage and 50% maize — but unlike most biogas plants that have the blend mixed first before pumping it in, he is able to mix it inside. When it comes to maintenance everything can be conveniently accessed on the outside, so there are no health and safety issues regarding anyone having to get into the tank — and no interruptions to the important

66 • January/February 2013

gas making process. From his 250kWh of biogas, Wiesen earns €0.22/kWh for each kW of energy he generates. This is made up of €0.11kWh for the feed-in tariff, plus a further €0.07kWh for utilising the energy on his farm and supplying it (plus digestate for use as fertiliser) to his neighbour. He also receives €0.04kWh for using manure and maize that is from his own 170 hectare farm. Now accounting for more than 60% of his annual income, this is all a far cry from when Wiesen installed his first biogas plant back in 1995.

He says: ‘I think I will always keep fine tuning the feedstock a little to try to get the best possible gas yields, but I am on course for a payback of no more than around five years from when we first built the new plant. ‘I only have to spend about an hour per day operating the plant, and with my computer I can see immediately how everything is working and how much power is being generated.’ To move the feedstock, which includes 12 tonnes of maize and 6 tonnes of manure per day, the plant’s pump only

has to run for five minutes per hour. Drawing sludge from the digester and then pumping it through the aspirating venturi chamber, biogas is aspirated from the top of the digester, mixed with the sludge and then injected into the tank. As well as its improved process and energy efficiencies, the high velocity and vacuum created by the mixer also achieves a 3D mixing pattern that eliminates the formation of unwanted surface scum. l For more information:

The GasMix is supplied by Landia: www.landiaworld.com

Bioenergy Insight


biotechnology Bioenergy Advances in DNA marker assisted breeding has created a perfect storm for the development of new, efficient and cost-effective feedstocks

Developing sorghum as a dedicated energy crop

A

s biofuel conversion technologies continue to advance, ever more emphasis is being placed on the feedstocks these processes will use. Ultimately, feedstock is the single largest cost driver for biofuels and, in many cases, the main barrier to cost competitiveness and scalability. Enabling a substantial reduction in petroleum use for liquid fuels will require a variety of different types of biomass. Sorghum is emerging as an ideal candidate to meet a great portion of the biofuel industry’s growing needs. In addition to sorghum’s tremendous yield potential, it is also naturally tolerant to drought and heat and requires less fertiliser than corn, allowing it to be grown in areas with marginal rainfall, higher temperatures and with lower inputs. Sorghum’s relatively short growing season also makes it suitable for areas in colder climates with fewer growing days or for use in crop rotation systems. Sweet sorghum is a variety of sorghum with high sugar content in its stalk. It can be used as a complement to sugarcane in existing Brazilian sugar to ethanol mills, and as a feedstock for advanced biofuels and other bio-based products produced from sugars. High biomass sorghum is a highyielding crop that can be used as a feedstock for biopower and cellulosic biofuels. One of sorghum’s most attractive characteristics is its potential for genetic

Bioenergy Insight

improvement tailored to energy related uses. Compared to corn or soya, little effort has gone into the breeding and improvement of sorghum and, due to a variety of historically quirks, this is especially true for sweet and high biomass varieties. At the same time, as a seed propagated annually that has already been successfully hybridised, sorghum is on a much steeper curve in terms of rate of improvement due to the number of breeding cycles that can take place in a shorter time period compared to perennial and vegetatively propagated crops. The confluence of this potential with the application of modern biotechnology

Visual selection of BC1 plants that most closely resemble P1 – multiple selections are advanced to BC2

tools creates a phenomenal opportunity to develop a low cost, high yielding dedicated energy feedstock for both conventional fermentationbased approaches, as well as advanced cellulosic approaches to producing biofuels. Feedstock developer NexSteppe is dedicated to developing and commercialising the crops and associated supply chain solutions necessary to enable the biofuels, biopower and bio-based product industries with optimal feedstocks. The company has a focus on sorghum and has built a library of germplasm sourced from public and private collections spanning the globe. While NexSteppe is using

Positive selection for red gene+ counter selection against P2 genome to select plants with most P1 markers and smallest % of P2

Classical vs. Marker Assisted Breeding for recurrent backcrossing scheme. Classical Breeding Approach (left panels); Two parents are crossed to produce an F1 hybrid. The F1 is ‘back crossed’ to the desired parent background (P1) to select plants that most closely resemble the P1 parent but also contain a desired trait from P2. Marker Assisted Breeding Approach (right panels); The same backcrossing strategy is used but DNA markers are used to select for the chromosome region of interest from P2 (red line) while at the same time selecting for Parent 1 genome in all regions outside of the desired trait. DNA Marker analysis allows the selection of one individual with desired gene and little P2 genome for next cycle of backcrossing. White and black bars represent chromosomes and recombined chromosomes of Parent 1 and Parent 2

conventional breeding techniques and cutting edge analytics to achieve this vision, a major catalyst to its business is the application of biotechnology in the form of marker assisted breeding. Through a partnership with DuPont Pioneer, NexSteppe has access to resources in marker assisted breeding technology which will accelerate the development of sorghum as a dedicated energy crop. The introduction of DNA marker assisted breeding in plants over the past 20 years has led to a revolution in the way plant scientists and breeders approach the commercial development of improved breeding lines and crops. Classical breeding begins with the identification of varieties that contain desirable traits that a breeder wants to combine into a single, true breeding variety with improved characteristics. Simple traits such as flower colour can be inherited in a simple fashion by single genes and more complex traits can be inherited through the action of many genes, such as grain yield and stress tolerance. Plant breeding seeks to make novel combinations of genes through genetic crossing (cross pollination) of different varieties followed by selection for the desired traits and counter-selection for unwanted traits. Selection has traditionally been done on visible or measurable traits called phenotypes. While this process has been used to great success by breeders for many decades,

January/February 2013 • 67


Bioenergy biotechnology it is very time and resource consuming. For example, traditional breeding schemes such as recurrent selection work by repeatedly crossing plants with desirable traits to one recurrent parent which has many desirable properties. In this way a valuable trait, such as disease resistance, from an otherwise inferior variety can by introduced (introgressed) into a high performing variety. This type of programme can take many years to accomplish by phenotypic selection. This is in large part because the phenotypes of interest may not be readily visible in the first generation, thus requiring the advancement of all of the progeny from a particular genetic cross to second and third generations before selections can begin. In large-scale breeding programmes, with many traits under selection in multiple environments, this will result in large numbers of plants being grown and phenotyped, only a few of which will be advanced. Another obvious limitation is that the genes responsible for the traits of interest remain unknown. Therefore, further introgression of a desired trait from one inbred to another can again only be accomplished by extensive grow outs and visual selection. Marker assisted breeding directly addresses these issues and allows breeders to observe gene segregation in their material and select for desirable genes while at the same time counter selecting for undesirable genes. The ability to make selections early in the growth cycle dramatically reduces costs and increases the number of traits that can be simultaneously bred. In addition, unlike phenotypic markers, molecular markers are not influenced by the environment, and can be reliably scored in every plant under observation. Modern marker assisted breeding relies on the identification and development of a large number of molecular

68 • January/February 2013

NexSteppe’s experimental breeding station in Hereford, Texas

markers in the plant genome of interest. Molecular markers are differences in a DNA sequence between two individual plants and provide a ‘road map’ to the plant genome that allows breeders to follow the segregation of genes in a genetic cross (for example, parents and progeny in a genetic breeding programme). These differences can take several forms including DNA nucleotide insertions, deletions, single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and simple sequence repeats (SSRs) among others. DNA polymorphisms serve as landmarks in the genome and behave as simple Mendelian genetic factors. As a result, their position on a genetic map, relative to one another and to a trait of interest, can be measured using standard genetic segregation analysis. A critical aspect to effectively employ marker technology relates to the density of markers across a genome and the ease and cost of measuring (assaying) the genetic value at each marker location. Since the advent of whole genome sequencing in the late 90s, the cost of developing markers has decreased exponentially. Likewise the development of new high throughput genotyping systems has dramatically increased the speed and accuracy of assaying DNA markers. These advancements allow molecular biologists to develop marker systems that provide

high genetic resolution and rapid assay readouts so that breeders can make selections early in the growth cycle and therefore only focus on the plants of interest. The application of genomic methods to plant systems has also allowed whole genome sequencing of multiple cereals including sorghum, maize and rice. Bioinformatic analysis of the genomes of cereal species reveals a high degree of chromosomal synteny or genetic colinerairty between distant species. This means that genetic information from one crop can often be leveraged in another crop, further increasing the power of genetic analysis available to molecular biologists and breeders. The revolution continues with the development of sophisticated statistical analysis to analyse population structure to identify closely related breeding populations and the application of methods such as Genome Wide Association Mapping to identify genes underlying complex quantitative traits. As marker density and statistical analysis continue to advance, the prospect of using genomic selection to predict phenotypes based on genomic marker information will further increase the speed and accuracy of molecular breeding. Beyond the technical advantages of marker assisted breeding over transgenic approaches, there are also a number of practical and

commercial advantages. Among them are cost and regulatory certainty. Sorghums are naturally outcrossing grasses with many close cousins that could be considered, at best, nuisances and at worst invasive species. To date, while transgenic approaches have the potential to confer significant advantages to crops like sorghum, as they have for corn and soya, the first step to any successful deregulation of said traits will be a robust gene-flow control strategy. Efforts are underway at the research level to develop such a technology, but if history is any guide this process can take many years, perhaps a decade or more. Further, even after an effective genetic containment strategy is in place, deregulation of even core traits is a process that costs tens, if not hundreds, of million dollars and can take many years. This time and expense is exclusive of the investment required to actually develop the relevant traits, which is not only expensive but risky. While there are differing views on the future of regulation of transgenes in non-food crops, it is fair to say there is tremendous uncertainty and significant risk in assuming a smooth path forward on this dimension. In comparison, marker assisted breeding is cheaper, faster, and more reliable and comes with none of the regulatory headaches associated with transgenic approaches. It is clear that many challenges lie ahead for the development of robust bioenergy feedstocks that will help the US and other countries reduce their dependence on fossil fuels. While there are many biofuel feedstocks and processes under development, sorghum represents an attractive nearterm dedicated feedstock that will benefit greatly from recent advances in marker assisted breeding and genomic science. l

Bioenergy Insight


events & advert index Bioenergy Bioenergy events Event

Venue

Energy Now expo 2013 Tue Mon

Wed

1European Pellet Conference 2

3

Date Fri

Telford, Thu UK

4 Austria

5

13 February Sat 2013 - 14 February Sun2013 27 February 2013 - 28 February 2013 6 7

World Sustainable Energy Days 2013

Wels, Austria

27 February 2013 - 1 March 2013

Bioenergy Italy

Italy

28 February 2013 - 2 March 2013

Enreg Energia Regenerabila 2013

Arad, Romania

6 March 2013 - 8 March 2013

Bioenergy Business Forum Spain 2013

Madrid, Spain

18 March 2013 - 19 March 2013

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

Salon Bois Energie 2013

Nantes, France

20 March 2013 - 22 March 2013

Biomass Conference & Expo

Minneapolis, Minnesota

8 April 2013 - 10 April 2013

European Biomass to Power 2013

Krakow, Poland

10 April 2013 - 11 April 2013

BiogasWorld 2013

Berlin, Germany

23 April 2013 - 25 April 2013

15 16 European Algae Biomass

17

18Vienna, Austria 19

20 2013 - 25 April 2013 21 24 April

Bioenergy Business Forum Hungary 2013 Renewable Energy World India

Budapest, Hungary

6 May 2013 - 7 May 2013

Mumbai, India

6 May 2013 - 8 May 2013

Ligna 2013 22

Hannover, Germany

6 May 2013 - 10 May 2013

25Copenhagen, Denmark 26

3 June 2013 - 7 June 2013

21st European Biomass Conference and Exhibition

23

24

27

28

Renewable Energy World Europe

Messe Wien, Vienna, Austria

4 June 2013 - 6 June 2013

10th Annual World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology

Montreal, Canada

16 June 2013 - 19 June 2013

UK AD & Biogas 2013

Birmingham NEC, UK

3 July 2013 - 4 July 2013

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.

Advert index Kirk Environmental LTD

IFC

Vermeer Corporation

5

Diffenbacher GmbH

7

BDI BioEnergy International AG 9

World Biofuels Markets

17

Factory Sales & Engineering Inc 19 Morbark Inc.

21

BTS Italia Srl

23

Peterson Corp

39

Bio-based Chemicals

41

Landia

11

Andritz Feed & Biofuel A/S

13

Lotus Mixers Inc

57

Neuson Ectoec GmbH

15

RotoChopper Inc

58

Bioenergy Insight

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January/February 2013 • 69


Bioenergy xxxx

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Biofuels International is the industry’s ONLY audited magazine. Our BPA audit assures you that our media figures are correct. This information proves you’re saying the right thing to the right people in the right place. international

September 2011 Issue 7 • volume 5

A long time coming

It is a year and a half late, but the EU has now approved seven certification schemes for biofuels that meet the RED criteria

Biobutanol war

Biobutanol companies are competing against each other, but not yet against bioethanol

www.biofuels-news.com xx • January/February 2013

Includes biomass supplement TM

Regional focus: biofuels in Canada FC_Biofuels_Sept_2011.indd 1

08/09/2011 12:44

Bioenergy Insight


Bioenergy Insight Jan/Feb 2013