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Miguel Ángel Martínez

New online platform maps Australia’s biomass availability

770 400 Miguel Ángel Martínez

A new online platform called AREMI identifies the location, availability and volume of biomass, and has been flagged as a “pivotal tool” to boost investment in Australia’s renewable energy sector. Businesses and investors now have access to a data-rich platform which maps out Australia’s biomass hotspots.

The Australian Renewable Energy Mapping Infrastructure (AREMI) platform collates and consolidates data currently housed by multiple organisations such as Geoscience Australia, the Bureau of Meteorology, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and AgriFutures Australia’s Australian Biomass and Bioenergy Assessment (ABBA) project and maps available biomass resources across Australia.

The mapping platform was developed by CSIRO’s Data61, Australia’s Centre of Excellence in Information and Communication Technology Research and Development being developed to share mapping data and information with the renewable energy industry.

The AU$3.27 million project is managed by AgriFutures Australia, the trading name for Rural Industries Research & Development Corporation (RIRDC), a statutory authority of the Federal Government and received AU$2.19 million in funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA)

AgriFutures Australia ABBA Project Manager, Julie Bird, said that AREMI creates better links between potential biomass suppliers, such as farmers and foresters, and end users.

“The platform is supporting businesses to get more value from organic material, often destined for a landfill, by improving information, access and quality, said Bird”

The AREMI platform helps researchers, policymakers and bioenergy project investors make decisions on renewable energy development opportunities. In Queensland (QLD), Southern Oil used the AREMI data to identify 12 primary processing sites for biomass, which was then transported to their bioenergy refinery in Gladstone.

“Examples such as these show enthusiasm for establishing a bioenergy industry and how collation of new datasets can support new bioenergy initiatives. A lack of reliable information on biomass availability poses a roadblock to the development of bioenergy products across Australia. The AREMI platform offers a free, interactive tool to map biomass resources which can be used to develop regional solutions, she said”

AgriFutures Australia’s involvement in biomass and bioenergy aims to raise awareness in rural industries about opportunities to engage in the bioenergy supply chain as feedstock producers.

According to Bird, ABBA is an important project helping to identify biomass locations and success stories which will be fundamental to shaping Australia’s future energy economy and driving investment in renewables innovation.

UK government funding for project to supply Africa with electricity from waste

640 359 Miguel Ángel Martínez

An Earth Observation Innovation team from the University of Leicester is collaborating with UK energy-from-waste-biomass firm PyroGenesys and a number of UK and international organisations on a project to generate off-grid electricity for remote rural communities in Africa starting with Nigeria.

The international consortium will be supported by £224,697 funding from the InnovateUK Energy Catalyst Round 6 Competition which was announced on Thursday 7 March.

PyroGenesys, with engineering support from bioenergy prototype specialist ICMEA-UK, has developed a novel technology to convert agricultural waste residues into renewable electricity and smokeless cooking fuels. The system will be integrated with technology developed by Koolmill to provide off-grid high-quality rice milling.

The PyroPower Africa project will utilise Earth Observation satellite data from the University of Leicester team to identify possible locations for future PyroPower installations across Nigeria.

Professor Kevin Tansey of the School of Geography, Geology and the Environment at the University of Leicester said: “The potential for using satellite data within geographical information systems to support the renewable energies sector is huge. Whether it be information about transport networks, characterising communities or estimating the biofuel resources, satellite data is a great mapping and monitoring tool.

“We will use satellites built by the European Space Agency delivering data via the European Commission Copernicus program to pinpoint agricultural waste residues that will be able to supply the plants with a sufficient quantity of fuel.”

Consortium partners, African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) and Babban Gonna, will utilise their extensive in-country project networks and expertise to provide ground-level validation and carry out detailed studies of the sites identified by the Earth Observation team.

According to Mobinet CEO Andrew Otiko: “A mobile payment platform that works in real-time without the internet and on any phone type is essential for rural Nigeria.” This model promises to empower gender and social inclusion in remote communities with no access to formalised banking structures.

PyroPower consortium leader and PyroGenesys CEO, Simon Ighofose said: “The rural communities we aim to serve are not, typically, heavy users of electricity. Their needs are relatively undeveloped, so it’s difficult for any electrification programme to justify the costs of extending the Nigerian national grid, especially in remote areas that are also poorly served by roads. The project will also focus on developing local smokeless cooking fuel production from waste agri-residues to replace wood derived charcoal use, which is causing severe deforestation and human health issues.

“The PyroPower system USP is that it’s a low-maintenance, biomass-powered pyrolysis technology that is feedstock flexible. This enables PyroGenesys to convert most forms of agricultural and food processing waste residues into much needed electricity and clean cooking fuel at a village-level.”

Professor Tansey will lead the Earth Observation investigation alongside Mr Carmine Maffei who is based in the University’s Innovation Hub.

Templeborough Biomass Power Plant in South Yorkshire will use wood fuel to generate 42MW

1024 487 Miguel Ángel Martínez

The plant, located in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, England, will use biomass fuel to generate 42 megawatts of green electricity to supply power to approximately 78,000 homes. B&W Vølund also will provide operations and maintenance services for the plant under a 15-year agreement.

Templeborough is the third of four Renewable energy projects B&W previously announced it expects to turn over to customers in the first and second quarters of 2019. It was referred to as the “fourth project” in B&W’s previous public disclosures about its European Renewable projects. B&W announced turnover of the Dunbar Power Plant Project in the U.K. in January and turnover of the Amager Bakke / Copenhill waste-to-energy plant in Denmark on Feb. 4.

“We are extremely pleased to provide Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners with industry leading, efficient and reliable biomass-to-energy technology that will provide needed power for the region and help to meet the U.K.’s objectives for renewable energy generation,” B&W Senior Vice President Jimmy Morgan said. “The Templeborough plant is another great example of the strength of the B&W team, our proven technology and our commitment to our customers. I would like to say thanks to our entire site team led by Project Director Keith Jones.”

“I could not be more pleased to see the Templeborough project reach this important milestone,” Tim Forrest, Managing Director, Templeborough Biomass Power Plant, said. “I would like to thank all involved for the dedication they have shown in getting here, and I look forward to a successful ongoing partnership with the Babcock & Wilcox Vølund operations team at this site.”

The Templeborough plant features a B&W Vølund boiler, its state-of-the-art DynaGrate® fuel combustion system, and B&W Vølund emissions control technology. It is designed to process up to 270,000 tons of biomass each year from municipal collection points, construction sites, and other industrial and commercial sources.

€229 million biomass plant planned in UK

802 451 Miguel Ángel Martínez

The Lancashire Post reports that plans to build a €229 million biomass plant are underway in Preston, Lancashire that would have the capacity to turn up to 395,000 tonnes of residual waste per year, into alternative fuel. Infrastructure development company, Miller Turner have told the Lancashire Post that the plant will burn largely biomass waste that will generate low carbon electricity.

Longridge Road Energy Centre has assigned Red Scar Industrial Estate located off of Junction 31a on the M6, as the plot to construct the plant on.  

Gregory Ewing, CEO of Miller Turner said, “Our team has great experience of developing energy projects, including plants like Longridge Road Energy Centre. It will use well-proven, efficient technology which is currently in operation at numerous energy recovery facilities across the UK and Europe. The plant will operate under a strict licensing system administered by the Environment Agency.”

Ewing continued, “Red Scar is an excellent site for our proposals. The motorway and local road connections mean there is no need for delivery vehicles to go through residential areas. “The technology will ensure no odours are present outside the plant and will operate well within strict environmental regulations.”

Bosses at Miller Turner are aiming to submit a planning application for the plant to Lancashire County Council by spring of this year. The plant is expected to generate around 40 megawatts of low carbon electricity which Longridge Road Energy say could power up to 89,000 homes.

“The project is a huge opportunity for Preston and Lancashire to generate stable, low carbon electricity and, in the process, help to sustain or create jobs and reduce landfill, which is relatively high in Lancashire and damaging to our environment,” added Ewing.

Toshiba moves forward with 44-MW biomass project in Japan

780 490 Miguel Ángel Martínez

Toshiba Energy Systems & Solutions Corp has signed a collaboration agreement with Japan’s Omuta City for the construction of a 44-MW biomass plant.

Through its subsidiary Sigma Power Ariake Corp, the unit of Toshiba Corp (TYO:6502) will this autumn start building two 22-MW facilities at Shinkomachi and Nishiminatomachi in the city of Omuta, Fukuoka prefecture. It said in a press release on Monday that the two units are planned to become operational in the spring of 2022. The project involves an investment of around JPY 20 billion (USD 176.1m/EUR 155.4m).

On announcing plans for the scheme, Toshiba said it is working to increase the penetration of its renewable business in the market. The Japanese conglomerate wants to build its integrated aggregator service business and to provide stability in the energy system by optimising multiple energy sources, such as renewable energy and battery storage, relying on control technology like in a virtual power plant. Growing into renewables is one of the key points in the group’s five-year transformation plan, unveiled last year.

At present, Toshiba has an 80-MW portfolio that includes six solar parks, three wind farms, one hydropower plant and a power station that was retrofitted to switch from coal to burning biomass in 2017.

Kenya wants produce electricity and biogas from waste and Mathenge

718 420 Miguel Ángel Martínez

The authorities in Kenya’s Garissa County aim to produce electricity and biogas for the population from waste. They have entrusted the construction of a waste recovery plant to two companies: the Swedish Vr Holding AB and the Finnish Woima Corporation. Waste has long been a major source of pollution and is becoming an energy source in Garissa. In this city, located in the county of the same name, in eastern Kenya, the authorities have undertaken to promote them. The waste will be used to produce biogas and electricity. The Garissa government has entrusted the project to two European companies. These are Vr Holding AB based in Sweden and Woima Corporation, a Finnish company.

No information has so far been provided on the capacity of the future facility. However, it is known that both companies will also use mathenge to produce energy. It is an invasive plant (shrub), known as Prosopis juliflora.

Originally from Latin America, mathenge was introduced to Kenya by settlers. Originally, to feed livestock, but since then, the plant has developed a toxin that can be dangerous to some herbivores. In addition, with its thorns and many low branches, the shrub forms an impenetrable thicket for animals that want to drink from rivers. To make matters worse, it regenerates very quickly, even from its roots.

The Kenyan authorities have therefore tried to address this problem in the past. They then entrusted the American company, Cummins Inc., with the responsibility of building a 12 MW biomass plant, operating from mathenge in Baringo County. The factory closed sometime after its commissioning. The species of mathenge that develops on site is then considered too wet and therefore incompatible with the company’s equipment.

In Garissa, however, Woima and Vr intend to take up the challenge. The shrubs will be cut down to chips before being incinerated at high temperature. Even if this solution is not successful, the leaves of the shrub can still be used as a catalyst in biogas production. This is what is happening with water hyacinth in several East African countries because, in addition to waste, biogas production also requires the supply of plants and faeces (sewage sludge, cow dung…)

The project will not be the first adventure for Vr in Kenya. The company tried unsuccessfully to convince the authorities to build a 600 MW offshore wind farm off the Indian Ocean. At the time, Kenya did not yet have legislation favourable to private electricity producers (PPIs) but the company is currently building a plant that will incinerate waste to produce electricity in Kakamega County in the west of the country. The facility, which is also being developed in partnership with Woima, will have a capacity of 2.5 MW. Total project cost, 3.5 billion shillings, or $34.7 million. Both companies expect to be in service by September 2019.

British air base ready to run on green energy from biomass

800 534 Miguel Ángel Martínez

The United Kingdom formally opened a biogas processing site to provide for nearly all the energy needs for a nearby air force base. Defense Minister Tobias Ellwood ceremonially opened the facility, built and operated by Future Biogas, in Swaffham, England, on Thursday.

The plant will make electricity from locally grown fermented crops to power RAF Marham, the air base where the Royal Air Force houses its F-35 and Tornado fighter planes. The base is the U.K.’s first to be powered by green energy, and is expected to deliver 4.5 megavolt amperes per day, or 95 percent of the needs of the air base.

Ellwood said on Thursday that the installation will “lead the way” in dealing with climate change.

“RAF Marham is leading the way as Britain’s first green military airbase,” the defense minister added. “The biogas fuel is a truly green and sustainable solution, helping us tackle climate change, support the local economy and save taxpayer money.”

“I hope that this plant can act as a model and we can see more sustainable energy schemes rolled out across other military bases,” Ellwood said.

The plan to use biomass to make electricity to power the base will save the Ministry of Defense nearly $400,000 per year in electricity costs.

A statement on Thursday from Future Biogas called the plan the “first major green innovation from the Ministry of Defense. To date, the only other military base in the U.K. using any form of renewable energy is Ministry of Defense [base] in Lyneham, in Wiltshire, which has solar panels supplying just 20 percent of its power. The huge success of the RAF Marham clean energy project will hopefully mean there’ll be many more to come.”


Biomass conversion on mind, 65 MW in Bathinda (India)

660 439 Miguel Ángel Martínez

Power Minister Gurpreet Singh Kangar on Sunday visited Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant, Bathinda, to explore the possibility of conversion of one of the plant’s units into a biomass-fed one. He said around 60 to 62 MW power could be generated at an investment of approx Rs 120 to Rs 150 crore.

A team of GNDTP engineers explained that the unit can be converted to rice straw (stubble) fed unit. The boiler needs to be replaced whereas the other major equipments like turbine, generator and other major auxiliaries can be reutilised, resulting in fruitful utilization of the existing infrastructure which has been used for 100 days only.

Moreover, the minister said the cost of generation from the proposed plant will be very less as compared to the power purchased from private biomass power plants. This seems to be a cost-effective solution to meet the non solar renewable energy power target set by the ministry of power and renewable energy notified by the state government as well.

Kangar claims that this will also help curb the menace of pollution due to burning of paddy straw in the open fields and it will also help in preserving soil fertility. Further, he said the project will attract an investment of Rs 100 crore in the farm sector and will result in direct and indirect generation of employment to the youth.

It is pertinent to mention that the plant was shut down on December 31, 2017. After 11 months PSPCL had decided to run a 60-65 MW paddy straw-based power plant at a cost of Rs 150 crore in one unit.

PSPCL has also cleared another project of 100 MW solar power project on 250 acres of land of the thermal plant which was used to dump fly ash within this complex. Sources said the proposal for straw-based power plant had been cleared after the feasibility study by Denmark-based Biomass Company Babcock and Wilcox (B&W) Volund. Even a few months back a team of a company from Denmark had also visited the GNDTP regarding this biomass power plant.

Biomass electricity subsidies: new schemes in Europe, first declines in Asia

650 416 Miguel Ángel Martínez

The support of electricity generated from solid biomass is the most important stimulation for the development of the biomass power plant market. Whereas biomass subsidisation schemes have recently also experienced positive amendments in Europe, Asian countries are currently reducing this kind of support for the first time. This is one of the results of a new ecoprog market analysis. In 2018, the number of biomass power plants (BMPPs) increased again by about 300 facilities. Today, there are about 3,800 BMPPs with an installed capacity of around 60 GWel. 

Subsidies for renewable energies (RE) are the most important factor driving the BMPP market, especially in Europe. The markets in South and North America as well as in many Asian countries are rather stimulated by fuel availability; however, RE subsidies are an important factor for the development of new capacities in these countries as well. Some of the European biomass support schemes are more than 20 years old. Therefore, many such systems have been reduced and rather geared towards competitive mechanisms in the past years.

In the last year, this trend slowed down to some extent. Poland, for instance, organised BMPP auctions for the first time in 2018, after the introduction had been awaited for many years. However, these auctions showed very limited success – only one project was approved for subsidies. This is because only few project developers participated, one reason for which is a wait-and-see attitude by many investors.

In late 2018, Finland also introduced an auctioning system that could benefit electricity generation from biomass. Ireland passed an auctioning scheme, which should increase the establishment of renewable energies (including biomass) until 2025.

Outside of Europe, the number of countries cutting biomass subsidies increased for the first time in 2018. Thailand, for instance, drastically reduced the feed-in tariff for biomass electricity, from about 14.20 €ct/kWh to 6.30 €ct/kWh. Also, Japan lowered the subsidisation for biomass projects with capacities of over 10 MWel and introduced a cap of 200 MWel per year for additional constructions. Argentina reduced the tendering volume for RE in the annual auctions from 1,200 MWel in 2017 to 400 MWel in 2018.

Attractive subsidisation terms remain in place in China and India, the countries with the strongest growth potentials. In 2018, India additionally introduced a nationwide support scheme for building biomass CHP plants (based on grants for the plant construction). From a global perspective, biomass electricity subsidisation continues to promote the market development for the construction of BMPPs.  Until 2027, the worldwide market for BMPPs will thus remain on its dynamic development path. We expect the construction of about 1,900 additional biomass power plants with an installed capacity of around 25 GWel.

About 50% of this growth will be realised in Asia, especially in the two lead markets China and India. Also, North and South America will remain attractive markets for electricity generation from solid biomass, and particularly their lead markets Brazil, Canada and the U.S.

In Europe, the overall level of support will continue to decline, in order to reduce high costs and improve ecological aspects. The positive changes of the subsidisation schemes, which were observed in 2018, will not be able to completely compensate this development. In sum, the European market will therefore lose some of its drive.

ecoprog’s study “Biomass to Power” is the most comprehensive of its kind, as it is the only report based on an analysis of the actual worldwide plant portfolio, and not only on evaluating public statistics. Go to www.ecoprog.com for further information on the new, 9th edition of this analysis.

As a respected strategy consultancy, Cologne-based ecoprog accompanies clients from Germany and abroad in dealing with implementation-oriented management issues with political, technical or economic backgrounds in the environmental and energy technology sectors. We focus on strategy consulting, market and competition analyses as well as multiclient studies. Learn more at https://www.ecoprog.com/publikationen/energiewirtschaft/biomass-to-power/

Renewables overtake coal as Germany’s main energy source

850 478 Miguel Ángel Martínez

Renewables overtook coal as Germany’s main source of energy for the first time last year, accounting for just over 40 percent of electricity production, research showed on Thursday.

The shift marks progress as Europe’s biggest economy aims for renewables to provide 65 percent of its energy by 2030 in a costly transition as it abandons nuclear power by 2022 and is devising plans for an orderly long-term exit from coal. The research from the Fraunhofer organization of applied science showed that output of solar, wind, biomass and hydroelectric generation units rose 4.3 percent last year to produce 219 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity. That was out of a total national power production of 542 TWh derived from both green and fossil fuels, of which coal burning accounted for 38 percent.

Green energy’s share of Germany’s power production has risen from 38.2 percent in 2017 and just 19.1 percent in 2010. Bruno Burger, author of the Fraunhofer study, said it was set to stay above 40 percent this year.

“We will not fall below the 40 percent in 2019 because more renewable installations are being built and weather patterns will not change that dramatically,” he said.

Green power skeptics say that output merely reflects favorable weather patterns and does not prove the sector’s contribution to secure energy supplies. Solar power increased by 16 percent to 45.7 TWh due to a prolonged hot summer, while installed capacity expanded by 3.2 gigawatts (GW) to 45.5 GW last year, according to the Fraunhofer data. The wind power industry produced 111 TWh from combined onshore and offshore capacity of just under 60 GW, constituting 20.4 percent of total German power output. Wind power was the biggest source of energy after domestically mined brown coal power which accounted for 24.1 percent.

Coal plants run on imported hard coal contributed 75.7 TWh, or 13.9 percent of the total.

Hydropower only accounted for 3.2 percent of power production at 17 TWh, as extreme summer heat dried out rivers and was accompanied by low rainfall. Biomass output contributed 8.3 percent. Gas-to-power plants accounted for 7.4 percent of the total; nuclear energy for 13.3 percent; with the remainder coming from oil and waste burning.

Germany was a net exporter of 45.6 TWh of power in 2018, mostly to the Netherlands, while importing big volumes from France. (Reporting by Vera Eckert, editing by Susan Fenton)

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