Port of Amsterdam makes way for biomass

The Port of Amsterdam is preparing for a growth in biomass product as European countries look to replace existing coal-fired power plants with renewable materials.

As the port gears up to meet the expected growth in this sector, new developments of fossil fuel terminals are no longer allowed, although expansion projects of existing terminals will still be able to go ahead.

The Port of Amsterdam is already redeveloping a transhipment terminal in Duisburg to provide biomass storage and transhipment to Duisburg for its Amsterdam-based customers.

The Dutch government recently revealed the Energy Report 2011, which aims for 14% of the nation's energy to come from renewables by 2020. In 2010 renewable energy accounted for 4% of the total energy produced.

Though the proposal in the report has not yet been approved, some coal-fired power stations are already co-firing biomass in anticipation of the proposal being passed.

Should it be approved, the Port of Amsterdam expects for its biomass activities to improve as a growing number of countries in Northern Europe convert from nuclear and fossil-based power plants to renewable energy.

The Port of Amsterdam currently handles around 1.5 million tonnes of biomass annually, but expects this to grow to around 13.5 million tonnes by 2020 as businesses located in the north of Europe are put under increasing pressure to slash their carbon emissions.

Koen Overtoom, managing director of the commercial department of the port says this biomass boom will largely come from Germany as it works to replace all nuclear power stations by 2022. This is combined with rising efforts to burn biomass from other European nations.

By 2020, a yearly supply of 15 million tonnes of biomass could be required by the Netherlands, Germany, Scandinavia and the UK, according to Overtoom. 'As a result, Port of Amsterdam will acquire a significant market share in the northwest European market for biomass transhipment,' he says. 'The Port of Amsterdam is strong in energy and most of the cargo that moves through the port consists of oil and coal. This provides the energy that the Netherlands, Europe and other countries in the world so greatly need.'

The Port of Amsterdam already has one storage facility available for biomass and it will continue to invest as the biomass sector continues to grow.

Companies located at the port are already looking to develop new biomass handling plants as the demand for biomass is predicted to accelerate within one to two years. 

'Biomass volumes are clearly going to grow over the coming years as demand for alternatives to fossil fuel and nuclear power stations increases,' concludes Overtoom. 

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