Europe to embrace biomass

By Anna Austin
As energy demands continue to rise in Europe, researchers at Frost & Sullivan have released a new analysis titled the "Strategic Assessment for European Biomass Energy Markets," which revealed that the European Union may achieve its goal of using 20 percent renewable energy by 2020 through the use of biomass as a significant source. Currently, biomass is already the largest renewable resource in use in Europe.

Researchers concluded that producing power locally would be most efficient in meeting energy demands, along with reducing carbon dioxide emissions and ensuring a sustainable energy source. "Biomass is essential for a healthy energy market in Europe," the report stated. Currently, biomass accounts for approximately 5 percent of energy consumption in Europe.

To help meet Europe's renewable energy goals, on June 16, the U.K. government announced that Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks had granted permission to Helius Energy PLC to construct a 65-megawatt biomass power station near the city of Stallingborough in Lincolnshire. Helius specializes in the installation and operation of biomass power plants. This particular plant, expected to power approximately 100,000 homes, will initially use wood waste as a feedstock. This includes leftovers from timber processing activities in the U.K. and throughout Europe, and specially grown crops-approximately 450,000 tons yearly. According to Helius, the plant will save nearly 500,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year compared with a similarly sized coal-fired power station.

Wicks said construction of the new power plant is a stepping stone toward a cleaner U.K. "Not only does it help tackle climate change and increase secure supplies of energy, but the building and running of this biomass plant will also provide jobs in Lincolnshire," he said. The facility will create an estimated 267 full-time jobs and 75 permanent jobs when the plant is on line.

Construction is expected to begin later this year with a tentative completion date of 2011.