Japan wood-gas-to-energy power plant wins award

By Anna Austin
Web exclusive posted Oct. 30, 2008 at 4:22 p.m. CST

Japan-based Yamagata Green Power, an electricity distribution company which runs the country's most powerful wood gas-to-energy power plant, has been awarded the Asian Power magazine's Gold Award for the Best Renewable Energy Power Plant of the year.

The two-megawatt power plant, which is fueled by gasified wood chips from local forests, is powered by two GE Energy Jenbacher gas engines, both of which have an electrical efficiency of up to 36 percent. Most of the plant's energy is sold to a power producer and supplier; the rest of the energy supports plant operations.

This is the second consecutive year that the company's engines have received an Asian Power award. In 2007, GE Energy was recognized for its cow manure-digester biogas project in Punjab, India.

Although GE Energy has supplied its Jenbacher engines for other types of waste gasification projects in Japan, the Yamagata project represents its first large-scale wood gas engine project in Asia. According to the company, it has also installed the engines in other wood gas plants in Europe and North America.

The Asian Power awards, which are given annually to highlight the top power plant projects in Asia, were announced during the Power-Gen Asia 2008 conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The award is given to projects which generate power from abundant, renewable biomass resources otherwise treated as waste, and demonstrate opportunities for future waste-to-energy initiatives.

By 2010, Japan has a goal to increase renewable energy production to three percent of the country's overall energy supply. As part of its renewable energy strategy, Japan is also seeking ways to expand its use of biomass fuel by up to 330 megawatts by 2010.