New study highlights importance of an optimised biomass supply chain

If heat and power plants that burn forest woodchips acquire these chips from optimised supply chains, they can obtain better quality biomass and lower their total acquisition costs. This is according to a study by Ramoll Finland, commissioned by Miktech Oy.

An optimised supply chain includes comprehensive and real-time management features for biomass, resources and conditions.

'The higher quality of the forest chips, especially in terms of their moisture and homogeneity, will affect the economic efficiency and profitability of heat and power plants,' explains Ramboll Finland's business manager Mirja Mutikainen.

The most significant benefits will be in fuel economy, boiler efficiency and other energy production costs. The plants will also benefit from fewer production outages and decreased operating and maintenance costs.

Forest lots used for harvesting energy wood will yield more energy, costs for transportation and intermediate storage will decrease, the acquisition process will become more efficient for suppliers and plants, and the availability of wood will improve. The supply chain will also become more interactive, which improves its reliability and continuity. Delivery chains can also be traced and controlled. Looking at the bigger picture, an optimised overall solution can improve the competitiveness of forest chips as a fuel and the general competitiveness of bioenergy.

The study also developed a simulation model to demonstrate the benefits for fuel suppliers and power plants. This model provides, in euros, the estimated added value of an optimised supply chain producing high-quality wood fuel.

A supply chain used to supply fuel for a 50,000MWh woodchip plant would bring more than €400,000 of savings in harvesting and transportation costs. Cost savings for the plant would amount to up to €200,000 or even more. This model is based on previous studies and the chip quality factors and their effects which were evaluated in this latest study.

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