Biomass generation facility opens in Thailand

By Anduin Kirkbride McElroy
A cogeneration steam boiler in Thailand that will burn biomass, coal and biogas began operation in July after about one year of construction. Phase one of the Sahasin Cogen Limited project provides steam, heat and electricity to Sahasinwattana Starch & Sweetener Company. Electricity will also be sold to the grid when the sweetener company isn't operating.

The boiler, which produces 25 tons of steam per hour, burns a mixture of 30 percent coal and 70 percent biomass and biogas, according to George Sorenson., chairman of FE Clean Energy Group Inc., a private equity firm that led the financial, developmental and technical aspects of the project. The boiler burns a variety of biomass, including rice husks, cashew nut husks, wood and local waste biomass, Sorenson explained. The boiler won't use waste from cassava or tapioca, which are processed at the adjacent sweetener facility.

Biogas production is phase two of the project, and construction is expected to begin in the fall. Waste pulp from the tapioca squeezing and cassava crushing processes will be fermented to generate the biogas. In a classic methane capture, the waste product naturally breaks down, and as methane is released, it is captured in a polyethylene tent, Sorenson said.

There's a large potential to earn tradable carbon credits through the Kyoto Protocol for the biogas project, Sorenson added. The biomass boiler project, on the other hand, doesn't require carbon credits in order to achieve a positive rate of return because of the revenue earned from the sale of electricity and steam.