European Biomass Power con­fer­ence Seville, Spain

Spain bio-power con­fer­ence high­lights Aus­tralian need to ‘bite the bul­let’

Australian Forests and Timber - - BIO -

Ar­eas where biomass is re­cov­ered have up to 70% less risk of fire. An­other ben­e­fit of dis­persed re­gional bioen­ergy plants is that it al­lows turn­ing mar­ginal or non-pro­duc­tive land into en­ergy crop fields. This al­lows the eco­nomic re­vi­tal­iza­tion in ru­ral ar­eas

• More em­ploy­ment

• Span­ish ex­per­tise

• Eco­nomic re­vi­tal­iza­tion

• Ex­port scope

• Enor­mous growth po­ten­tial

THIS CON­FER­ENCE about pro­duc­tion of elec­tric­ity from biomass con­tained much in­for­ma­tion that is very rel­e­vant to Aus­tralia. Par­tic­i­pants in­cluded peo­ple from sec­tors and busi­nesses pro­duc­ing en­ergy plants de­signed for straw, wood chip, mu­nic­i­pal waste, or were providers of spe­cial­ist equip­ment in­clud­ing flu gas fil­ter­ing sys­tems, de­tec­tors of hotspots in feed­stocks, and trans­port and stor­age sys­tems, or were in­volved in var­i­ous as­pects of biomass sup­ply, de­liv­ery and man­age­ment, or in R&D.

Spain, with its pop­u­la­tion of about 46.3 mil­lion, is a ma­jor agri­cul­tural and forestry pro­ducer. About 47 mil­lion ha of its arable land is planted to per­ma­nent hor­ti­cul­tural crops – mainly cit­rus, wine grapes and olives, but also al­monds, stone fruit and figs. As well there is pro­duc­tion of ma­jor amounts of straw and stalk from an­nual crops, and residues from forestry pro­duc­tion in­clud­ing eu­ca­lypts grown for pa­per and cel­lu­lose, as well as forestry (mainly of pine species) man­aged for tim­ber pro­duc­tion.

One fig­ure for the residues avail­able from this sec­tor plus forestry land is of 15.7 mil­lion tonnes/year while an­other fig­ure for wood re­moval from agri­cul­tural land alone is of 16 mil­lion tonnes a year.

An­nual crops are grown

across more than 70 mil­lion ha, and the amount of agri­cul­tural residues baled and re­moved thus to­tals well over 70 mil­lion tonnes (with much of this presently used for an­i­mal feed and bed­ding). One fig­ure for the amount of biomass avail­able over­all for en­ergy pro­duc­tion is of more than 88.5 mil­lion tonnes/year.

Re­new­ables tar­get

Spain has a tar­get to pro­duce 20% of its en­ergy from re­new­able sources by 2020, and by 2014 had reached 16.2%. This 20% fig­ure breaks down as 37% of elec­tric­ity, 11.3% of trans­port fu­els and 17.3 as heat­ing and cool­ing, com­ing from re­new­able sources. Much of this can ob­vi­ously come from biomass, and over­all the amount of unuti­lized biomass avail­able, plus up to 15 mil­lion tonnes a year of

non-re­cy­clable com­bustible mu­nic­i­pal wastes plus ur­ban pu­tresci­ble wastes, could be used to pro­duce up to 15% of Spain’s in­stalled 60 GW ca­pac­ity of on-de­mand elec­tric­ity (this in­cludes from hy­dro and biomass. There is an ex­tra 40 GW of in­stalled ca­pac­ity of wind and so­lar power). In ad­di­tion it would pro­duce more than 18 GW of in­dus­trial heat. This scale of de­vel­op­ment of bioen­ergy has the po­ten­tial to per­ma­nently em­ploy up to 40,000 peo­ple.

There is also scope for de­vel­op­ment of bioen­ergy to re­duce sig­nif­i­cant ex­pen­di­ture on im­ports. About 20% of the to­tal money Spain spends on im­ports is spent on US$80 bil­lion worth of fos­sil fu­els im­ported an­nu­ally. De­vel­op­ment of bioen­ergy could re­duce this sig­nif­i­cantly through use of biomass for do­mes­tic

and in­dus­try heat, and pro­duc­tion of cel­lu­losic ethanol and bio-meth­ane to pro­vide 10% of trans­port fuel needs.

The pro­duc­tion of elec­tric­ity in Spain in 2013 was over 261 TWh, with about 113 TWh com­ing from re­new­able sources (37%). In 2015 re­new­able sources pro­vided about 37.4% of to­tal elec­tric­ity de­mand. This breaks down by per­cent­age to: 19.1 wind, 11.1 hy­dro, so­lar PV 3.1, so­lar ther­mal power 2.1, re­new­able ther­mal (biomass) 2.1. How­ever, the split in Spain be­tween the three forms of en­ergy is al­most ex­actly as 33% each for elec­tric­ity, heat and trans­port fu­els. In 2014 the fig­ures for sources of the 15.2% of pri­mary en­ergy pro­duced from re­new­ables were: biomass and ‘re­new­able wastes’ 5.8%, hy­dro 2.9%, wind 3.8%, so­lar (elec­tric­ity and heat in­clud­ing CSP) 2.7%. The pro­por­tions of con­tri­bu­tion of the re­new­able sources within the fi­nal en­ergy fig­ure will be sim­i­lar though the per­cent­age con­tri­bu­tion will be a higher fig­ure than for pri­mary en­ergy. Pre­dictably, biomass plays the great­est role of the re­new­ables within the heat­ing/cool­ing sec­tor, sup­ply­ing over 13% com­pared with 0.9% from so­lar en­ergy. Sim­i­larly it plays the great­est role in the trans­port fuel sec­tor, sup­ply­ing over 1 mil­lion tones-oil-equiv­a­lent com­pared with about 120,000 toe from re­new­able elec­tric­ity.

Sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment

On the pre-con­fer­ence tour about 40 peo­ple trav­elled by bus to visit a biomass-fu­eled 50 megawatt gen­er­a­tor at Huelva that is pro­duc­ing about 350 GWh/ year. The plant, cost­ing 125 mil­lion Euro when built in 2012, is owned by ENCE, Spain’s big­gest pulp and pa­per com­pany (pro­duc­ing about 1 mil­lion tonnes of pulp an­nu­ally), and also the big­gest pro­ducer of elec­tric­ity from woody biomass, with 220 MW of ca­pac­ity con­nected to the

na­tional grid and pro­duc­ing about 1600 TWh/year, with 1360 TWh sup­plied to the grid in 2015.

While poli­cies favour­ing de­vel­op­ment of re­new­able elec­tric­ity, in­clud­ing pay­ment of high feedin tar­iffs, meant heavy in­vest­ment in wind tur­bines and so­lar tech­nolo­gies, biomass to elec­tric­ity and heat has also seen sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment and de­vel­op­ment of Span­ish in­dus­trial ex­per­tise. Span­ish com­pa­nies that are lead­ers across the re­new­able en­ergy sec­tor in­clude Aben­goa (CSP and WTE), Ac­ciona (wind and straw) and Gamesa (wind). How­ever it was power gen­er­a­tion and in­dus­trial heat pro­duc­tion from biomass that saw con­tin­u­ing in­vest­ment af­ter the Span­ish govern­ment with­drew from obli­ga­tions to pay the high feed-in tar­iffs when the GFC hit. The ma­jor Span­ish re­new­able en­ergy com­pa­nies are now es­tab­lished in­ter­na­tion­ally with ac­tiv­ity in Aus­tralia, USA, South Amer­ica and else­where in Europe.

Greater use of residues en­cour­aged

While the other three biomass-fu­eled plants owned by ENCE are us­ing residues from the pulp and pa­per pro­duc­tion and the heat is con­sumed in ENCE’s plants, the one we vis­ited was de­signed for us­ing biomass from en­ergy crops, and Span­ish re­new­able en­ergy pol­icy in 2015 en­cour­aged greater use of residues from agri­cul­tural and hor­ti­cul­tural crops. About 17% of the biomass now used is residues from the hor­ti­cul­tural in­dus­try of the re­gion – in­clud­ing stumps and trunks of or­ange trees and olive trees, and the bal­ance of 83% is forestry residues from pine and eu­ca­lypt pro­duc­tion, with 30% of the to­tal be­ing crushed eu­ca­lyp­tus stumps. Over­all the biomass sup­ply to this plant is about 50% as stumps, forestry wastes 20%, agri­cul­tural residues (in­clud­ing some cot­ton waste) 5%, and en­ergy crops 25%.

Pro­duc­tion of 50 MW-e us­ing biomass as a feed­stock means about 400,000 tonnes a year (1500 t/day at av­er­age 28% MC) has to be sourced and de­liv­ered on a justin-time ba­sis, crushed or chipped to specifications, and held in the 20,000 m3 hold­ing stor­age for the last short pe­riod be­fore en­ter­ing the fur­nace. The plant, along with an­other older biomass­fu­eled 40 MW-e plant on the same site, has cre­ated about 950 per­ma­nent jobs for the area, in­clud­ing biomass sup­ply, plant man­age­ment and main­te­nance. One en­vi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fit claimed by ENCE is that ‘ar­eas where biomass is re­cov­ered have up to 70% less risk of fire’. An­other ben­e­fit of dis­persed re­gional bioen­ergy plants is that ‘it al­lows turn­ing mar­ginal or non-pro­duc­tive land into en­ergy crop fields. This al­lows the eco­nomic re­vi­tal­iza­tion in ru­ral ar­eas’.

97% op­er­a­tional ca­pac­ity with biomass feed

The steam for the sin­gle 50 MW tur­bine is pro­duced in two boil­ers. ENCE says that the en­ergy ef­fi­ciency of this plant is over 92% (con­ver­sion of fuel en­ergy con­tent to uti­liz­able heat). The biomass feed­stock is de­liv­ered into the fur­naces through a num­ber of points. The fur­naces also have a num­ber of points where in­jec­tors can de­liver a backup sup­ply of ei­ther fuel oil or nat­u­ral gas. Th­ese can be in­stantly used if the woody biomass sup­ply is in­ter­rupted some­how due

to sys­tem break-down, or at start up af­ter a main­te­nance pe­riod. In 2015 this plant op­er­ated at ca­pac­ity 97% of the time us­ing the biomass feed.

The plant con­sists of two bub­bling flu­idized bed fur­naces with in­te­grated boil­ers made by An­dritz. Th­ese pro­duce 180 t/hr of steam at 500 C and 100 bar. The steam feeds a Siemens SST 600 con­dens­ing tur­bine and gen­er­a­tor. Flue gases pass through an elec­tro­static pre­cip­i­ta­tor to min­i­mize dust, and a non-selec­tive cat­alytic reactor to re­duce ni­tro­gen ox­ides. Cool­ing of the steam cycle is done us­ing a 5-cell wa­ter cool­ing sys­tem with in­duced air­flow with a ca­pac­ity of 12,000 m3/ hr. Biomass chipping and crush­ing is done us­ing sys­tems sup­plied by the Fin­nish com­pany BWH Tech­nol­ogy.

As well as be­ing the Span­ish leader in gen­er­at­ing power and in­dus­trial heat from biomass, ENCE is in­volved in sev­eral sig­nif­i­cant ar­eas of re­search. It is a part­ner in the 9.3 mil­lion Euro EU-wide CASCATBEL pro­gram (17 part­ners from 10 coun­tries) fo­cused on com­mer­cial pro­duc­tion of bio­fu­els from lig­no­cel­lu­losic biomass us­ing three tai­lored cat­alytic re­ac­tions. The pro­cesses in­volved are py­rol­y­sis, de­oxy­gena­tion and hy­dro­gena­tion. This pro­gram be­gan in Novem­ber 2013 (www. cascatbel.eu). ENCE is also play­ing a lead­ing role in an­other 2.5 mil­lion Euro pro­ject that com­menced in Septem­ber 2015 on the po­ten­tial for pro­duc­tion of higher value in­dus­trial chem­i­cals from lignin (black liquor) pro­duced in the Kraft pulp­ing process.

Di­rectly rel­e­vant to Aus­tralia

The two-day con­fer­ence in­cluded many pre­sen­ta­tions di­rectly rel­e­vant to Aus­tralia. The topic of straw-toen­ergy was cov­ered by the Den­mark-based com­pany Burmeis­ter & Wain En­ergy (BWE), which has been a lead­ing player in the sup­ply of fur­naces for straw­fired plants in Den­mark, the UK and Spain. BWE sup­plied the boiler is­land to Den­mark’s biomass-fu­eled Aver­do­ere 2 com­bined heat and power plant which, af­ter bring com­mis­sioned in 2002, held the record for hav­ing the high­est ef­fi­ciency of any con­ven­tional fur­nace power plant world-wide fu­eled by any fuel, with elec­tri­cal pro­duc­tion ef­fi­ciency of about 48% in con­dens­ing mode. An­other speaker was from Doosan Bab­cock, the com­pany retrofitting the coal-fired fur­naces at the UK’s DRAX plant, which is now the largest user of pel­lets for elec­tric­ity pro­duc­tion in Europe. Doosan (pre­vi­ously Bab­cock Wil­cox) had sup­plied the fur­nace is­lands for the Hazelwood plant in Vic­to­ria and the speaker sug­gested that retrofitting th­ese for use of biomass was fea­si­ble. Other speak­ers were from com­pa­nies from spe­cialty ar­eas in­clud­ing the Ital­ian flu gas treat­ment com­pany REDECAM Group. This was the com­pany re­spon­si­ble for in­stal­la­tion of the flu gas treat­ment at the Van­taa WTE plant which has re­sulted in that plant hav­ing emis­sions com­pa­ra­ble to those from a nat­u­ral gas-fired plant.

An­other group of speak­ers were in­volved with sup­ply of biomass of all types into Europe. Th­ese forms of biomass in­cluded palm ker­nel shell, chipped over-ma­ture rub­ber trees, crushed olive pit and olive po­mace. The is­sues of ship­ping low en­ergy den­sity, less con­ven­tional biomass, that may only have oc­ca­sional de­mand as a small com­po­nent of biomass feed into an in­dus­tri­alscale plant, de­pend­ing on de­liv­ered cost, ap­plies to the Aus­tralia biomass pro­duc­ers who face this crit­i­cal is­sue of ship­ping eco­nom­ics, with one so­lu­tion be­ing achiev­ing greater en­ergy den­sity. Other speak­ers were peo­ple who were pro­cur­ers of biomass for larger and smaller plants in Europe. Speak­ers in­cluded lead­ing peo­ple from the R&D sec­tor, and from the mar­ket in­tel­li­gence and con­sult­ing area.

Biomass-to-en­ergy ramps up

Over­all the de­vel­op­ment of biomass-to-en­ergy in Europe is de­vel­op­ing strongly across many coun­tries and at all scales. The driv­ers for this in­clude the ready avail­abil­ity of biomass, the ben­e­fit of pro­duc­ing an on-de­mand or baseload form of re­new­able en­ergy, the abil­ity to switch biomass use be­tween pro­duc­tion of heat, bio­fu­els and elec­tric­ity, the abil­ity to den­sify and trans­port biomass, and the sig­nif­i­cant cre­ation of per­ma­nent jobs par­tic­u­larly in ru­ral and re­gional ar­eas, where lack of good em­ploy­ment prospects may have been forc­ing peo­ple to move to ci­ties.

As with most con­fer­ences, while the pre­sen­ta­tions pro­vided much good and use­ful in­for­ma­tion and con­tacts, it was the chance con­tacts over the breaks and dis­cus­sions on the bus or at din­ner that pro­vided some of the best in­for­ma­tion and in­sights into how things are done in Europe. One Ital­ian per­son I met gave in­for­ma­tion on a 25 MW-e straw-fired power plant in south­ern Italy at Apo­lia, an­other was a Dane look­ing at grow­ing the trop­i­cal woody legume Leu­caena in Zam­bia as a biomass source and an­i­mal feed and who was want­ing an Aus­tralian source of im­proved seed, an­other was from the Span­ish com­pany Aben­goa, who was keen to talk about the scope for ex­port to Aus­tralia and north Africa of that com­pany’s con­cen­trat­ing so­lar power (‘power tow­ers’) and waste to en­ergy tech­nolo­gies. And an Ital­ian man work­ing with Global CCS re­vealed that this world car­bon geose­ques­tra­tion or­ga­ni­za­tion was ini­ti­ated by Aus­tralia’s past prime min­is­ter John Howard, and that bio-CCS (bioen­ergy sys­tems with cap­ture of CO2 from the flue gas) is now seen as one real op­tion for re­duc­tion of at­mo­spheric CO2 lev­els. Two men from the Hanes un­der­wear com­pany in the Do­mini­can Repub­lic lamented that the in­va­sive aca­cia species orig­i­nally from Aus­tralia (A.longi­fo­lia or A. mangium) was such a prob­lem that they were uti­liz­ing it as a fuel for the steam pro­duc­tion for cot­ton pro­cess­ing in the plant. They wanted sug­ges­tions for more ef­fi­cient har­vest­ing and trans­port op­tions.

The fi­nal words (fol­low­ing), sum­ma­riz­ing this con­fer­ence and the po­ten­tial for bioen­ergy de­vel­op­ment more gen­er­ally, are taken from ENCE web­site (www.ence. es/in­dex.php/en/en­ergy. html):- “As a re­sult of con­tin­u­ous ef­forts in R&D and the ex­pe­ri­ence gained in the ef­fec­tive use of biomass, Ence has man­aged to de­velop 100% Span­ish tech­nol­ogy and cre­ated a sit­u­a­tion where the group could lead a global pro­ject in the field of uti­liza­tion of biomass for en­ergy pro­duc­tion.

Re­new­able en­ergy from biomass has enor­mous growth po­ten­tial in Spain, a coun­try which has the EU’s se­cond largest wooded area. In fact, bioen­ergy is the only form of re­new­able en­ergy that has shown sound eco­nomic re­sults on ac­count of the ben­e­fits gen­er­ated; due to its ca­pac­ity to cre­ate jobs, de­velop ru­ral ar­eas, and con­trib­ute to im­prov­ing the en­vi­ron­ment, both through the cap­ture of CO2, and the care and clean­ing of the wood­lands which re­duces the risk of fires by up to 70%.

In ad­di­tion, it is the only man­age­able and most sta­ble re­new­able en­ergy, not hav­ing to de­pend on vari­ables such as sun­light, wind, or the avail­abil­ity of cer­tain agri­cul­tural wastes. Biomass could be part of the pro­gres­sive sub­sti­tu­tion of do­mes­tic coal, cre­at­ing em­ploy­ment in the col­lieries af­fected due to the prox­im­ity of th­ese coal­fields to the forested ar­eas that have the po­ten­tial for biomass pro­duc­tion.”

“Biomass plays the great­est role of the re­new­ables within the heat­ing/ cool­ing sec­tor”

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