Biomass co-firing trial completed at Amer power plant

A consortium made up of clean technology company Topell Energy, three electricity companies – Essent, Nuon and GDF Suez – and the Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN) has completed a large-scale co-firing test with biomass at the Amer power plant in the Netherlands.

The test, conducted under the 'Top consortium for Knowledge and Innovation Bio-based Economy (TKI BBE) initiative, has demonstrated the new technology can produce renewable energy from biomass-based pellets. During the trial, 2,300 tonnes of biomass pellets were transported, handled, co-milled and co-fired to produce renewable power.

Nikolaus Valerius, head of Essent's power plants, explains 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 energy-dense biopellets. 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.'

Rob Voncken, CEO of Topell Energy, adds: 'The co-firing test took place in percentages ranging between 5 and 25% (on one mill) between 1 November and 30 December 2013 at the Amer power plant. No adverse effects on milling and burning were 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.'

Following this trial, 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.

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