GE Jenbacher engines light up Japan

By Timothy Charles Holmseth
Two General Electric Jenbacher gas engines in Japan have been fired up at the country's largest wood-based gas-to-energy plant and are supplying two megawatts of electricity in local power.

Utilizing GE's most powerful engines in commercial operation, the plant represents an effort to utilize a specialty gas-to-energy model that will support the Japanese government's initiatives to expand and increase renewable energy production to help meet its emissions under the Kyoto Protocol. "This project represents the first order of large-scale wood gas engines for GE Energy in Asia," said Prady Iyyanki, chief executive officer of GE's Jenbacher gas engine business.

The plant runs completely on wood-based gas with no backup fuel supply. Because the plant is near a forest, the facility has access to a steady source of biomass and provides a new use for the forest's trimmed branches, said Martina Streiter, spokeswoman for GE.

Chikao Miyamoto, an executive for GE in Japan, said the plant's technology provides an avenue for meeting energy security through fuel diversification and supports cost-effective waste disposal. The facility will convert wood biomass into power, allowing it to use the electricity to power internal site operations and make money by selling to industrial customers, he said.

The Jenbacher engines have an efficiency rating of up to 36 percent, which is higher than a conventional steam turbine power plant on the same scale, Streiter said.
Most of the plant's energy is sold to a power producer and supplier, while the rest is used to support plant operations. By 2010, Japan hopes to increase renewable energy production to 3 percent of the country's overall energy supply. The goal is to increase its use of biomass-based power up to 330 megawatts by 2010, Streiter said.