<body> --------------
Contact Us       Consulting       Projects       Our Goals       About Us
home » Archive »
Nature Blog Network

    Note: Biopact's mail-server is being changed, so any incoming mails will bounce-back. The problem will be solved in the coming 12-24 hours. Biopact Team - November 22, 2007.

    Analysts think Vancouver-based Ballard Power Systems, which pumped hundreds of millions and decades of research into developing hydrogen fuel cells for cars, is going to sell its automotive division. Experts describe the development as "the death of the hydrogen highway". The problems with H2 fuel cell cars are manifold: hydrogen is a mere energy carrier and its production requires a primary energy input; production is expensive, as would be storage and distribution; finally, scaling fuel cells and storage tanks down to fit in cars remains a huge challenge. Meanwhile, critics have said that the primary energy for hydrogen can better be used for electricity and electric vehicles. On a well-to-wheel basis, the cleanest and most efficient way to produce hydrogen is via biomass, so the news is a set-back for the biohydrogen community. But then again, biomass can be used more efficiently as electricity for battery cars. Canada.com - November 21, 2007.

    South Korea plans to invest 20 billion won (€14.8/$21.8 million) by 2010 on securing technologies to develop synthetic fuels from biomass, coal and natural gas, as well as biobutanol. 29 private companies, research institutes and universities will join this first stage of the "next-generation clean energy development project" led by South Korea's Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy. Korea Times - November 19, 2007.

    OPEC leaders began a summit today with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez issuing a chilling warning that crude prices could double to US$200 from their already-record level if the United States attacked Iran or Venezuela. He urged assembled leaders from the OPEC, meeting for only the third time in the cartel's 47-year history, to club together for geopolitical reasons. But the cartel is split between an 'anti-US' block including Venezuela, Iran, and soon to return ex-member Ecuador, and a 'neutral' group comprising most Gulf States. France24 - November 17, 2007.

    The article "Biofuels: What a Biopact between North and South could achieve" published in the scientific journal Energy Policy (Volume 35, Issue 7, 1 July 2007, Pages 3550-3570) ranks number 1 in the 'Top 25 hottest articles'. The article was written by professor John A. Mathews, Macquarie University (Sydney, Autralia), and presents a case for a win-win bioenergy relationship between the industrialised and the developing world. Mathews holds the Chair of Strategic Management at the university, and is a leading expert in the analysis of the evolution and emergence of disruptive technologies and their global strategic management. ScienceDirect - November 16, 2007.

    Timber products company China Grand Forestry Resources Group announced that it would acquire Yunnan Shenyu New Energy, a biofuels research group, for €560/$822 million. Yunnan Shenyu New Energy has developed an entire industrial biofuel production chain, from a fully active energy crop seedling nursery to a biorefinery. Cleantech - November 16, 2007.

    Northern European countries launch the Nordic Bioenergy Project - "Opportunities and consequences of an expanding bio energy market in the Nordic countries" - with the aim to help coordinate bioenergy activities in the Nordic countries and improve the visibility of existing and future Nordic solutions in the complex field of bioenergy, energy security, competing uses of resources and land, regional development and environmental impacts. A wealth of data, analyses and cases will be presented on a new website - Nordic Energy - along with announcements of workshops during the duration of project. Nordic Energy - November 14, 2007.

    Global Partners has announced that it is planning to increase its refined products and biofuels storage capacity in Providence, Rhode Island by 474,000 barrels. The partnership has entered into agreements with New England Petroleum Terminal, at a deepwater marine terminal located at the Port of Providence. PRInside - November 14, 2007.

    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) kicks off the meeting in Valencia, Spain, which will result in the production of the Synthesis Report on climate change. The report will summarize the core findings of the three volumes published earlier by the separate working groups. IPCC - November 12, 2007.

    Biopact's Laurens Rademakers is interviewed by Mongabay on the risks of large-scale bioenergy with carbon storage (BECS) proposals. Even though Biopact remains positive about BECS, because it offers one of the few safe systems to mitigate climate change in a drastic way, care must be take to avoid negative impacts on tropical forests. Mongabay - November 10, 2007.

    According to the latest annual ranking produced by The Scientist, Belgium is the world's best country for academic research, followed by the U.S. and Canada. Belgium's top position is especially relevant for plant, biology, biotechnology and bioenergy research, as these are amongst the science fields on which it scores best. The Scientist - November 8, 2007.

    Mascoma Corporation, a cellulosic ethanol company, today announced the acquisition of Celsys BioFuels, Inc. Celsys BioFuels was formed in 2006 to commercialize cellulosic ethanol production technology developed in the Laboratory of Renewable Resources Engineering at Purdue University. The Celsys technology is based on proprietary pretreatment processes for multiple biomass feedstocks, including corn fiber and distiller grains. The technology was developed by Dr. Michael Ladisch, an internationally known leader in the field of renewable fuels and cellulosic biofuels. He will be taking a two-year leave of absence from Purdue University to join Mascoma as the company’s Chief Technology Officer. Business Wire - November 7, 2007.

    Bemis Company, Inc. announced today that it will partner with Plantic Technologies Limited, an Australian company specializing in starch-based biopolymers, to develop and sell renewably resourced flexible films using patented Plantic technology. Bemis - November 7, 2007.

    Hungary's Kalocsa Hõerõmû Kft is to build a HUF 40 billion (€158.2 million) straw-fired biomass power plant with a maximum capacity of 49.9 megawatts near Kalocsa in southern Hungary. Portfolio Hungary - November 7, 2007.

    Canada's Gemini Corporation has received approval to proceed into the detailed engineering, fabrication and construction phases of a biogas cogeneration facility located in the Lethbridge, Alberta area, the first of its kind whereby biogas production is enhanced through the use of Thermal Hydrolysis technology, a high temperature, high pressure process for the safe destruction of SRM material from the beef industry. The technology enables a facility to redirect waste material, previously shipped to landfills, into a valuable feedstock for the generation of electricity and thermal energy. This eliminates the release of methane into the environment and the resultant solids are approved for use as a land amendment rather than re-entering the waste stream. In addition, it enhances the biogas production process by more than 25%. Market Wire - November 7, 2007.

    A new Agency to manage Britain's commitment to biofuels was established today by Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly. The Renewable Fuels Agency will be responsible for the day to day running of the Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation, coming into force in April next year. By 2010, the Obligation will mean that 5% of all the fuels sold in the UK should come from biofuels, which could save 2.6m to 3m tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. eGov Monitor - November 5, 2007.

    Prices for prompt loading South African coal cargoes reached a new record last week with a trade at $85.00 a tonne free-on-board (FOB) for a February cargo. Strong Indian demand and tight supply has pushed South African prices up to record levels from around $47.00 at the beginning of the year. European DES/CIF ARA coal prices have remained fairly stable over the past few days, having traded up to a record $130.00 a tonne DES ARA late last week. Fair value is probably just below $130.00 a tonne, traders said. At this price, some forms of biomass become directly competitive with coal. Reuters Africa - November 4, 2007.

    The government of India's Harayana state has decided to promote biomass power projects based on gasification in a move to help rural communities replace costly diesel and furnace oil. The news was announced during a meeting of the Haryana Renewable Energy Development Agency (HAREDA). Six pilot plants have demonstrated the efficiency and practicability of small-scale biomass gasification. Capital subsidies will now be made available to similar projects at the rate of Rs 2.5 lakh (€4400) per 100 KW for electrical applications and Rs 2 lakh (€3500) per 300 KW for thermal applications. New Kerala - November 1, 2007.

Creative Commons License

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

UK approves world's biggest (350MW) biomass plant: will power half of all homes in Wales

Plans to build the world's biggest biomass power station fuelled by wood chips have been given the go-ahead by the UK government. The £400 million plant to be located in Port Talbot will have the capacity to power not less than half of all homes in Wales. In other words, the station will meet the electricity needs of around 1.5 million people in a sustainable, renewable and carbon-neutral way. When completed, the 350MW biomass plant will produce about 70% of the Welsh Assembly Government's entire 2010 renewable energy target. This makes it the region's single strongest weapon in the fight against climate change.

London-based Prenergy Power Ltd will build the plant in the Port Talbot's docks area after being given the go-ahead by Business Secretary John Hutton of the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform. Port Talbot is an industrial town with a deep water harbor in the traditional county of Glamorgan, south Wales, with a population of approximately 50,000. The project will generate 150 permanent jobs and stimulate the region's economy indirectly.

The renewable energy station will burn about 3 million tonnes of woody biomass shipped in each year from overseas (mainly from the United States and Canada), for the production of certified carbon-neutral electricity. Feedstock production - tree replanting and harvesting - is monitored to happen in a sustainable way. The plant in Port Talbot thus gives a major impulse to the already rapidly growing international biomass market.

The biomass plant has significant advantages compared to the majority of other renewable technologies such as wind power, solar and photovoltaic, which, whilst valuable contributors to combat climate change, are intermittent and can often only operate for 25% to 30% of the year. This requires back-up by other sources, which currently are obtained from fossil fuels. The biofuelled plant on the contrary offers a robust continuous baseload for more than 90% of the year. As such, the forecasting of energy generated by the renewable energy plant is more reliable. Because of this, the UK's national grid can better balance electricity supply with demand and maintain the integrity of the national electricity transmission system.

The proposed biomass plant will run via the following process:
  • Clean (virgin, unused) wood chip will be delivered to the development site in ‘Panamax’ vessels. Each vessel will hold approximately 45,000 tonnes of wood chip and will unload at the existing jetty. New cranes will discharge onto a new conveyor system which will move the wood chip to the fuel storage area.
  • The biofuel from the fuel storage area will be transferred to a Circulating Fluidised Bed (CFB) boiler by means of an enclosed conveyor belt system from one of three fuel blending silos. The CFB boiler will raise steam for a single 350 MW (electrical) steam turbine. Exhaust steam from this turbine will be condensed by means of a dry air cooled condenser and will therefore require no water for cooling purposes. Condensed steam will then be recirculated back into the CFB boiler.
  • After combustion, the flue gasses will pass through a fabric filter to remove 99.99% of the entrained dust, and will then flow up a 100 m tall stack designed for optimal flue gas dispersion.
  • There will be no need for sulphur or chlorine control as the wood fuel does not contain significant quantities of these components. Furthermore, wood ash is inherently alkaline in composition and will capture trace amounts of chlorine, fluorine and sulphur from the exhaust gas. The wood will also have minimal ash content, producing less than 150,000 tonnes per year of ash which will be sold to the cement and fertiliser industry and transported from the Renewable Energy Plant by sea and/or road.
  • Electricity generated from the Renewable Power Plant will be exported via a new 275 kV underground electrical line to the existing 275 kV electrical substation at Margam around 2 km away.
Construction of the renewable energy plant is expected to commence in the second quarter of 2007 and last around 36 months, with full operation in the first quarter of 2010. It will operate for 25 years as a baseload (full-time) plant, 24 hours per day and 8,000 hours per annum:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::
Despite the many advantages over intermitten renewables, running biomass plants is a balancing act in itself because the feedstocks used are still carbonaceous biofuels which yield local emissions (carbon is taken back up by new tree growth, though) and they have to be physically transported which may affect the local environment.

Different impact assessments were therefor conducted checking the environmental, social and cultural impacts. The air quality impact assessment showed that emissions from the plant will not have a significant effect on air quality for surrounding areas. The PM10 contributions within the Air Quality Management Area (0.08 μg/m3) are considered to be insignificant based on current criteria. A number of mitigation measures have been identified to reduce or remove potential impacts. The model used predicted that cold weather will cause a visible moisture plume at the top of the stack for 14% of the year but his was predicted to be of minor impact.

The height of the tallest building within the development will be 65 metres; the height of the chimney will be 100 metres. Visual impact is therefor in keeping with the surrounding industrial area (existing versus predicted view, click to enlarge).

Prenergy will receive the biofuel for the plant by sea only (or potentially in the future by rail), which is a key transport impact mitigation measure. Furthermore, all operational impacts dealing with the plant have been assessed as 'insignificant'.

Other assessments included a an analysis of impacts on the terrestrial ecology of the region, a flood consequence assessment, an investigation into possible noise pollution coming from the plant and its operations, effects on ground and surface water, and on cultural heritage and communications.

On all fronts, the results published in the Environmental Statement (the formal written statement of the findings of the development's environmental impact assessment) met the criteria and was therefor approved.

Just a week ago, the UK opened its first 'large' biomass power plant, a 30MW station that would run on domestically sourced waste wood and biomass from energy crops. The power station generates electricity for 30,000 homes (previous pots). Another large biomass plant is being built in Lockerbie, Scotland, that will be fuelled by short rotation coppice energy crops. The £90 (€133/US$178) million E.ON facility is expected to be fully operational by the end of the year and will generate enough electricity to power 70,000 homes, provides over 300 jobs in the forestry and energy farming sector, and displaces the emission of 140,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases each year (more here).

According to the UK's recently published Biomass Strategy, there is a large potential for both domestically and internationally sourced bioenergy. Biomass, biofuels and bioproducts are therefor set to play a major role in the UK's bid to meet the EU target of producing 20 percent of energy from renewables by 2020. The country's long-term strategy was expresed in the Climate Change Bill, published in draft in March 2007, which sets out a proposed UK target of at least 60% cuts in carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 and a strong new system of carbon budgeting.

Prenergy Power: Port Talbot Renewable Energy Plant website.

Prenergy Power: Port Talbot Renewable Energy Plant, non-technical summary [*.pdf].

Reuters: World's biggest biomass power plant coming to Wales - November 21, 2007.

Forbes: UK govt gives go ahead for construction of world's largest biomass plant - November 21, 2007.

South Wales Evening Post: Green Light for £400m power plant - November 21, 2007.

Biopact: UK outlines Biomass Strategy: large potential for bioenergy, bioproducts - May 28, 2007

Biopact: UK opens first large scale 30MW biomass power station - November 13, 2007

Biopact: UK's largest biomass plant approved, biomass task force created - June 16, 2007


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home