Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Successful Torrefied Biomass Test at Power Plant in the Netherlands

"Biopellets" made from biomass can replace or be co-fired with coal.

Co-Firing of Coal-Like 'Biopellets' Made by Dutch Firm Topell 

A consortium consisting of Topell Energy, three electricity companies (Essent, Nuon and GDF Suez) and ECN today announced successful completion of a large scale co-firing test with an innovative renewable energy source--biopellets made from torrefied renewable biomass--at the Amer power plant in Geertruidenberg, a city and municipality in the south of the Netherlands.

The consortium proved an innovative technology to produce renewable energy with biopellets from biomass.

The co-firing test was conducted under the Top consortium for Knowledge and Innovation Bio-based Economy (TKI BBE) initiative.

Nikolaus Valerius, head of the Dutch Essent power plants, explained the importance of the successful test: “Biomass is an important cost efficient and available pillar of the future renewable energy supply. We find it important to make efficient use of this renewable energy source. Therefore, we tested the torrefaction technology at the Amer power plant, where we have been producing Green Electricity with sustainable biomass for over 10 years. In the test, we efficiently dried biomass and converted it into light, dry and very energy-dense biopellets."

Valerius continued: "The successful large scale co-firing of the biopellets is an important step in our contribution to a renewable energy supply where green materials are most efficiently and sustainably used."

Alternative to Conventional Wood Pellets

In the trial, a total of 2,300 tons of biopellets were successfully transported, handled, co-milled and co-fired to produce green electricity. Rob Voncken, CEO of Topell Energy commented on the process: “The co-firing test took place in percentages ranging between 5% and 25% (on one mill) between 1st November and 30th December 2013 at the Amer power plant. No adverse effect on milling and burning was detected in any of the tests. The trial therefore confirms that high quality biopellets can be produced and co-fired at large commercial scale. Together with its high energy content and density, this confirmation makes torrefied biomass a potential better alternative to conventional wood pellets to substitute fossil fuels."

Kees de Gooijer, director of the TKI BBE programme, said: “I am very pleased with the positive outcome of the co-firing trial. They constitute a convincing proof that torrefied biomass can contribute meaningfully to the Energy Agreement targets of the Dutch government--25 PJ of electricity generated from biomass by 2020--aimed at promoting green electricity and at phasing out fossil fuels. We also view this torrefaction technology as an important enabling technology for the future production of bio-based chemicals and materials."

Some of the parties involved in the TKI BBE programme are now discussing the next steps to mobilise larger quantities of torrefied pellets for the production of green electricity, in view of the requisites of the Dutch Energy Agreement which will come into force in 2015.

Torrefaction is a roasting-like technology that can be used to convert various kinds of biomass, including wood chips, energy crops and agricultural and agribusiness wastes, into a drop-in replacement for coal. Torrefied pellets and briquettes, commonly called bio-coal, can be transported, stored, ground up, pulverized, injected into furnaces and burned just like coal--along with or in place of the terribly polluting fossil fuel.

The European Union considers (certifiably) renewable biomass a carbon neutral fuel.