Biomass power plants to be built in Europe

By Erin Voegele
La Rochette, France-based Cascades S.A., the European division of Canadian boxboard company Cascades Inc., and Denmark-based Babcock and Wilcox Vølund A/S, a subsidiary of U.S.-based Babcock and Wilcox Power Generation Group Inc., have recently announced plans to construct separate biomass power plants in Europe.

Cascades will build France's first wood gasification facility in La Rochette in the Savoie region of France. Cofathec, a subsidiary of energy producer Gaz de France that specializes in energy management, installation and maintenance services, will manage the plant. Gaz de France will cover the €30 million ($47 million) cost to build the facility.

The plant will be operational in 2010 and is expected to reduce the annual carbon dioxide emissions of Cascades' La Rochette division by 7,500 tons annually. It will also generate 40 million kilowatt-hours of electricity.

The project was initiated as part of the second call for cogeneration power plant bids that the French Energy Regulation Commission issued in an effort to meet the country's renewable energy production objectives.

Babcock and Wilcox Vølund reached an agreement to supply Italy-based Advanced Renewable Energy Ltd. with up to 25 small-scale biomass power plants over the next 10 years.

Each of the facilities will have the capacity to produce four megawatts of electricity and five megawatts of heat using locally obtained wood chips. The first facility is expected to be operational by the first quarter of 2010.

The technology supplied by Babcock and Wilcox Vølund significantly reduces heat loss and will allow the plants' owners to achieve electrical efficiency of approximately 45 percent.
The contract agreement between Babcock and Wilcox Vølund, and Advanced Renewable Energy is valued up to $156 million (€300 million). Advanced Renewable Energy expects to generate a quick return on investment and plans to install the small-scale power plants in as many locations as possible.