GE provides Italy, China with biomass technologies

By Anna Austin
GE Energy announced June 4 the successful installation of its Ecomagination-certified Jenbacher gas engine at a commercial farm in Limena, Italy, owned by farmers and cattle breeders Azienda Agricola di Giuseppe and Paolo Gomiero. The engine will power the Baita del Latte farm's first biogas plant.

Currently, the plant is fueled by the biogas it produces from a wet mixture of animal waste and agricultural biomass materials such as rye and corn. The biogas project is aimed at reducing ecological concerns in the area such as the proper disposal of animal manure, which contains high levels of nitrate, and poses regulatory and ecological challenges for farmers. Gomiero said he and Giuseppe expect many other farms to follow their lead in embracing the technology.

GE Energy also announced June 18 that it would be the provider of control systems for 50 new biomass-fueled power plants to be built in China. The Atlanta-based company will distribute the controls technology to Wuhan Kaidi Electric Power Engineering Co. Ltd., which is building the facilities. The systems will link all plant operations, data acquisitions and performance analyses in order to monitor and control various plant mechanisms.

Jack Wen, president of GE Energy-China, said for the industrial renewable energy initiative in China to succeed, Wuhan Kaidi was seeking a technology that would ensure a short delivery cycle, improve plant performance, reduce power plant emissions and overall be of high quality.

The underlying reason for the great number of new plants to be constructed in China is the country's rapid increase in power demand, which is projected to rise by 13.5 percent in 2008. The plants are expected to generate enough electricity to support 70,000 families yearly in China using straw, rice husks and animal manure as feedstocks.