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    A 7.1MW biomass power plant to be built on the Haiwaiian island of Kaua‘i has received approval from the local Planning Commission. The plant, owned and operated by Green Energy Hawaii, will use albizia trees, a hardy species that grows in poor soil on rainfall alone. The renewable power plant will meet 10 percent of the island's energy needs. Kauai World - February 27, 2007.

    Tasmania's first specialty biodiesel plant has been approved, to start operating as early as July. The Macquarie Oil Company will spend half a million dollars on a specially designed facility in Cressy, in Tasmania's Northern Midlands. The plant will produce more than five million litres of fuel each year for the transport and marine industries. A unique blend of feed stock, including poppy seed, is expected to make it more viable than most operations. ABC Rural - February 25, 2007.

    The 16th European Biomass Conference & Exhibition - From Research to Industry and Markets - will be held from 2nd to 6th June 2008, at the Convention and Exhibition Centre of FeriaValencia, Spain. Early bird fee registration ends 18th April 2008. European Biomass Conference & Exhibition - February 22, 2007.

    'Obesity Facts' – a new multidisciplinary journal for research and therapy published by Karger – was launched today as the official journal of the European Association for the Study of Obesity. The journal publishes articles covering all aspects of obesity, in particular epidemiology, etiology and pathogenesis, treatment, and the prevention of adiposity. As obesity is related to many disease processes, the journal is also dedicated to all topics pertaining to comorbidity and covers psychological and sociocultural aspects as well as influences of nutrition and exercise on body weight. Obesity is one of the world's most pressing health issues, expected to affect 700 million people by 2015. AlphaGalileo - February 21, 2007.

    A bioethanol plant with a capacity of 150 thousand tons per annum is to be constructed in Kuybishev, in the Novosibirsk region. Construction is to begin in 2009 with investments into the project estimated at €200 million. A 'wet' method of production will be used to make, in addition to bioethanol, gluten, fodder yeast and carbon dioxide for industrial use. The complex was developed by the Solev consulting company. FIS: Siberia - February 19, 2007.

    Sarnia-Lambton lands a $15million federal grant for biofuel innovation at the Western Ontario Research and Development Park. The funds come on top of a $10 million provincial grant. The "Bioindustrial Innovation Centre" project competed successfully against 110 other proposals for new research money. London Free Press - February 18, 2007.

    An organisation that has established a large Pongamia pinnata plantation on barren land owned by small & marginal farmers in Andhra Pradesh, India is looking for a biogas and CHP consultant to help research the use of de-oiled cake for the production of biogas. The organisation plans to set up a biogas plant of 20,000 cubic meter capacity and wants to use it for power generation. Contact us - February 15, 2007.

    The Andersons, Inc. and Marathon Oil Corporation today jointly announced ethanol production has begun at their 110-million gallon ethanol plant located in Greenville, Ohio. Along with the 110 million gallons of ethanol, the plant annually will produce 350,000 tons of distillers dried grains, an animal feed ingredient. Marathon Oil - February 14, 2007.

    Austrian bioenergy group Cycleenergy acquired controlling interest in Greenpower Projektentwicklungs GmbH, expanding its biomass operational portfolio by 16 MW to a total of 22 MW. In the transaction Cycleenergy took over 51% of the company and thereby formed a joint venture with Porr Infrastruktur GmbH, a subsidiary of Austrian construction company Porr AG. Greenpower operates two wood chip CHP facilities in Upper and Lower Austria, each with an electric capacity of 2 MW. The plants have been in operation since the middle of last year and consume more than 30,000 tonnes of wood chips and are expected to generate over €5 million in additional revenue. Cycleenergy - February 6, 2007.

    The 2008 edition of Bioenergy World Europe will take place in Verona, Italy, from 7 to 10 February. Gathering a broad range of international exhibitors covering gaseous, liquid and solid bioenergy, the event aims to offer participants the possibility of developing their business through meetings with professionals, thematic study tours and an international forum focusing on market and regulatory issues, as well as industry expertise. Bioenergy World Europe - February 5, 2007.

    The World GTL Summit will take place between 12 – 14th May 2008 in London. Key topics to be discussed include: the true value of Gas-to-Liquids (GTL) projects, well-to-wheels analyses of the GTL value chain; construction, logistics and procurement challenges; the future for small-scale Fischer-Tropsch (FT) projects; Technology, economics, politics and logistics of Coal-to-Liquids (CTL); latest Biomass-to-Liquids (BTL) commercialisation initiatives. CWC Exhibitions - February 4, 2007.

    The 4th Annual Brussels Climate Change Conference is announced for 26 - 27 February 2008. This joint CEPS/Epsilon conference will explore the key issues for a post-Kyoto agreement on climate change. The conference focuses on EU and global issues relating to global warming, and in particular looks at the following issues: - Post-2012 after Bali and before the Hokkaido G8 summit; Progress of EU integrated energy and climate package, burden-sharing renewables and technology; EU Emissions Trading Review with a focus on investment; Transport Climatepolicy.eu - January 28, 2007.

    Japan's Marubeni Corp. plans to begin importing a bioethanol compound from Brazil for use in biogasoline sold by petroleum wholesalers in Japan. The trading firm will import ETBE, which is synthesized from petroleum products and ethanol derived from sugar cane. The compound will be purchased from Brazilian petrochemical company Companhia Petroquimica do Sul and in February, Marubeni will supply 6,500 kilolitres of the ETBE, worth around US$7 million, to a biogasoline group made up of petroleum wholesalers. Wholesalers have been introducing biofuels since last April by mixing 7 per cent ETBE into gasoline. Plans call for 840 million liters of ETBE to be procured annually from domestic and foreign suppliers by 2010. Trading Markets - January 24, 2007.

    Toyota Tsusho Corp., Ohta Oil Mill Co. and Toyota Chemical Engineering Co., say it and two other firms have jointly developed a technology to produce biodiesel fuel at lower cost. Biodiesel is made by blending methanol into plant-derived oil. The new technology requires smaller amounts of methanol and alkali catalysts than conventional technologies. In addition, the new technology makes water removal facilities unnecessary. JCN Network - January 22, 2007.

    Finland's Metso Paper and SWISS COMBI - W. Kunz dryTec A.G. have entered a licence agreement for the SWISS COMBI belt dryer KUVO, which allows biomass to be dried in a low temperature environment and at high capacity, both for pulp & paper and bioenergy applications. Kauppalehti - January 22, 2007.

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

World's first: Wärtsilä to power green Finnish town with biogas fuelled Solid Oxide Fuel Cell

Finnish energy solutions provider Wärtsilä will demonstrate a planar solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) power unit fuelled by renewable biogas in the city of Vaasa, in West-Finland, as part of the 2008 Green Housing Fair. The unit will provide ultra-low emissions clean heat and power for 50 of the eco-homes, in an extremely efficient manner.

The unit to be demonstrated, dubbed WFC50 by the Wärtsilä engineers, will use biogas or biomethane from a nearby landfill site to provide heat and power to Vaasa's electricity and district heating grid. This will be the first time a solid oxide fuel cell will have been used in such an application, and as such it heralds an interesting time for fuel cell development.

At the first stage, the SOFC system will produce an electric output of approximately 20 kW and a thermal output of 14 to 17 kW, later to be scaled up to a combined capacity of 50kW. Current experimental SOFC units are typically designed with power in the range of of 1 – 5 kW to supply combined heat and power for individual homes. The size of the WFC50 would place it in the commercial, district and industrial customer range. Wärtsilä is now focusing on the 20 – 50 kW demonstration units. After this it will develop the technology towards 200-250 kW unit size. A unit of 250 kW could then be “repeated” for applications of around 1MW.

The overall efficiency of the CHP system is close to 90 per cent - more than double that of the electricity generated in classic power systems such as coal or gas plants. The characteristics of SOFC technology include a high operating temperature, the ability to use several different fuels - particularly biobased gases -, and ultra-low emissions.

Biogas powered SOFCs are arguably the world's least carbon-intensive and most efficient energy systems currently available. Compared with renewables like wind or solar power, which over their lifecycle release between 30 and 100 kg of CO2 per MWh of electricity generated, biogas fuelled SOFCs can generate negative emissions when the CO2 released during the decarbonisation of the fuel is sequestered. As such, the technology is a key solution that supports the development of sustainable, renewable and climate friendly energy.

The Wärtsilä biogas powered SOFC first reforms the carbonaceous methane gas into hydrogen, which is then fed to the cell (schematic, click to enlarge). Decarbonising the biofuel means its CO2 can be captured and stored. This, however, is a future development that is undergoing intensive research and will emerge when SOFCs are scaled up to power entire cities. An integrated CO2 grid would then transport the greenhouse gas to a safe storage site. The energy generated in this concept would be carbon-negative and actively remove CO2 from the atmosphere instead of merely preventing the release of new emissions, which is what ordinary renewables do.

Special features of SOFCs include:
  • SOFC technology can operate in the temperature range of 650 - 800 °C, which allows the use of conventional materials in the balance of plant components.
  • Since a fuel cell system has very few moving parts their service need will probably be considerably lower and system reliability higher when compared to conventional technologies.
  • Planar SOFC products have the potential to reach a competitive cost level in mass production.
  • Since pure hydrogen is costly and available only in limited quantities, a number of other fuels have been successfully used with SOFCs, such as methanol, natural gas, biogas, gasoline and even diesel oil and ethanol.
  • In practice, the most potential fuels are natural gas, various types of biogas (methane from anaerobic digestion, or synthetic natural gas from biomass) and low-sulphur diesel. In stationary applications natural gas is widely used and the reforming of natural gas is conventional technology.
When low-cost manufacturing of SOFC products is achieved, it will change our way of producing electricity and consuming energy, say the organisers of the Green Housing Fair. The schematic of the Wärtsilä SOFC system illustrates how the fuel cell works. The company has developed extensive software to adapt a SOFC power unit into customer infrastructure.


The significance of the capacity to use biogas increases in decentralized energy production. The benefits of decentralized energy production include more efficient utilization of local sources of energy, shorter transport distances for fuels and reduced energy transmission losses:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

Biogas-based fuels are energy sources compliant with sustainable development. In addition to landfills, biogas is generated in agriculture and water treatment plants from a wide variety of organic materials.

Biomethane can be obtained from two main conversion processes: either the material is anaerobically digested via biochemical processes, or raw biomass is thermochemically transformed via a process known as gasification. In the first case, the term 'biogas' or 'landfill gas' is most commonly used; in the latter case, experts speak of 'synthetic natural gas' (SNG) or 'green gas'.

Bio-based gases can be made from virtually any type of biomass, ranging from dedicated energy crops to manure and various streams of agricultural, municipal and industrial waste.

Long-term clean energy strategy
The development of fuel cell technology is a part of Wärtsilä's long-term development strategy for cleaner and sustainable energy production technologies. The fuel cell unit for the fair site is Wärtsilä's first field application of the fuel cell technology.

The technology is in early demonstration phase where a low number of units are manufactured at high cost. Fontell says that it would cost around US$10 - 20,000/kW to buy the technology, which is still far from the target level. To be competitive, a fuel cell would need to cost no more than US$2,000-2,500/kW. Forecasts for 2015-2020 show the price falling to USD 1,000/kW, so the technology has potential to become competitive. But the cost development depends on both how the technology proceeds, and how fast the manufacturing volumes can be increased.

Since 2000, Wärtsilä has developed fuel cell technology for distributed power generation, and is today among the world’s front-line pioneers of this technology. The driving force is that the fuel cell technology will be one of the most promising energy technologies for decentralized power generation in the future.

Wärtsilä is involved in extensive domestic co-operation with Finnish R&D institutions and potential equipment suppliers, and participates in international co-operation in Europe, USA and Japan. System integration of the various technologies included in fuel cell systems is one of Wärtsilä’s expertise areas.

Wärtsilä is one of the leading companies in the world developing the specific SOFC technology. This development is supported by close collaboration with the Danish company Topsoe Fuel Cells A/S and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland.

The Vaasa Housing Fair 2008 will be held at a beautiful location by the sea in Suvilahti, Vaasa, three kilometers from the Vaasa city center. The housing fair area consists of private houses, small housing associations and blocks of flats, all of which have been built in an urban style, while still succeeding in remaining close to nature.

The Vaasa Housing Fair to be held between 11 July and 10 August 2008 is a pioneer in the implementation of clean energy production processes for a restricted area. In addition to fuel cells, power and heat are produced with microturbines and from low-temperature heat collected from the sea bed using a geothermal heating pump.

Energy & Enviro Finland: An unique fuel cell plant using landfill gas will produce energy for a Finnish housing fair - February 27, 2008.

Energy & Enviro Finland: Finnish Housing Fair pioneers in ecological living - February 27, 2008

Vaasa Housing Fair 2008.

Energy & Enviro Finland: Wärtsilä fuel cell system to power city of Vaasa - June 15, 2006.


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