Dutch power plant successfully tests torrefied biomass pellets

By Essent | February 19, 2014

A consortium consisting of Topell Energy, three electricity companies, including Essent, Nuon and GDF SUEZ, and ECN has successfully completed a large-scale cofiring test with an innovative renewable energy source at the Amer power plant in Geertruidenberg, Netherlands. With the test, the consortium proves an innovative technology to produce renewable energy with “biopellets” from biomass. The cofiring test was conducted under the “Top consortium for Knowledge and Innovation Bio-based Economy” (TKI BBE) initiative.  

Nikolaus Valerius, head of the Dutch Essent power plants, explains the importance of the successful test. “Biomass is an important cost efficient and available pillar of the future renewable energy supply,” he said. “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 very energy-dense ‘biopellets’. The successful large scale cofiring of the biopellets is an important step in our contribution to a renewable energy supply where green materials are most efficiently and sustainably used.”

In the trial, a total of 2,300 tons of biopellets have been successfully transported, handled, co-milled and cofired to produce green electricity. Rob Voncken, CEO of Topell Energy, said, “The cofiring test took place in percentages ranging between 5 percent and 25 percent (on one mill) between Nov. 1 and Dec. 30, 2013 at the Amer power plant. No adverse effect on milling and burning was detected in any of the tests. The trial therefore confirms that high quality biopellets can be produced and cofired 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.'

Kees de Gooijer, director of the TKI BBE program, said, “I am very pleased with the positive outcome of the cofiring trial. They constitute a convincing proof that torrefied biomass can contribute meaningfully to the Energy Agreement targets of the Dutch government - 25 PJ of electricity generated from biomass by 2020 - aimed at promoting green electricity and at phasing out fossil fuels. We also view this torrefaction technology as an important enabling technology for the future production of bio-based chemicals and materials.”

After this successful trial, some of the parties involved in the TKI BBE program are now discussing the next steps to mobilize 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.