Merimbula News Weekly, Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Alholmens 240MW Biomass Plant Finland, Europe's largest.


Biomass power plant plans proceed
South East Fibre Exports, operators of the Eden chipmill, have entered a new phase in their plan to build and operate a biomass power plant on their Eden mill site.
A tender has now been let and work has begun on a formal Environmental Assessment of the Eden proposal. The successful tenderer for this phase is Sydney based company URS.
The proposal being assessed involves the construction and operation of a 5MW power plant using existing and future mill waste from both hardwood and softwood chipping and sawmilling operations. It is expected that as well as supplying all the power needs of the Eden chipmill, the power plant could also supply most of Eden with renewable energy.
The biomass power plant proposal can place Eden at the forefront of community efforts to change levels of dependence on power derived from fossil fuels. It will deliver base load power as opposed to intermittent power delivered by other renewable systems such as solar and wind.
This base load capacity is essential to industry and to a broad range of power applications in the community where power demand is constant.
Following a recent trip to Europe to attend a biomass energy conference and inspect biomass plants SEFE general manager Peter Mitchell says the principle of biomass power feeding localised communities with both power and heat is widely established.
Mr Mitchell says that European action is being driven by the decision by the European Energy Commission to set a mandatory renewable energy target for Europe of 20 per cent by 2020. Currently 66 per cent of renewable energy in Europe is produced from biomass. Detailed assessments forecast a wood fibre deficit of over 200 million cubic metres per year in Europe by 2020.
Wood pellet consumption in Europe, mainly for power consumption, has grown from 1.4 million tonnes in 2001 to 6.5 million tonnes in 2008.
Similar renewable energy growth in the United States sees 65 new major energy projects identified, most involving co generadon of heat and steam. The UK has 12 major biomass projects under various stages of development requiring a fuel supply equivalent to 20 million tonnes of woodchips.
Mr Mitchell described  what he saw in Europe as a  real eye opener with conservation groups and the biomass sector in direct partnerships. The World Wildlife Fund and the
 European  biomass  industry are co promoting a blueprint for achieving 15 per cent of biomass use in industrialized countries by 2020. Ref:
"Of great interest in this joint proposal" says Mr Mitchell "is their assessment that Australia enjoys the third highest potential globally behind the USA 1 1
and Canada in respect to biom ass power as an energy substitute".
The joint proposal states that "woody biomass also known as biomass from forestry and fanning has the potential to become a major source for future electricity and heat production. By utilising modem and efficient technologies, biomass offers a source of clean energy that can gradually replace coal and other fossil fuels".
The proposal describes biomass as "a carbonneutral power source in that C02 absorbed by the raw material while growing offsets that generated during combustion".
Mr Mitchell said that the European visit highlighted the size of the task in trying to move energy production away from fossil fuels
He said that there appeared to be some straightforward advantages for the Eden project. Fuel already available, a suitable grid connection in place, an ability to reduce long distance power transmission losses (estimated as up to 15%) and the ability to capitalise on a renewable resource from the forest industry identified by the Australian Greenhouse Office as Australia's only carbon positive industry sector.
The major challenges for the project were to successfully meet the requirements for the E n v i r o n m c n t a 1 Assessment, deliver a commercially viable project, have suitable Government regulatory requirements firmly established and gain a community recognition in Eden on the value of the project and ultimately the final support of SEFE shareholders to proceed, Mr Mitchell said.