Minn. study team visits Swedish bioenergy facilities

By Anna Simet | June 13, 2012

A group of Minnesota delegates recently visited several bioenergy facilities throughout Sweden to study what might be possible in regard to implementing similar projects within the state.

The study group, made up of bioenergy industry members, academia, state government, a tribal organization, and non-profits, conducted several site visits of bioenergy operations during their time in Sweden, including some large-scale combined-heat-and-power facilities. Each utilized a specific feedstock material, including wood pellets, wood chips and waste wood. 

The study team also toured several small- and mid-sized district heating facilities that are providing hot water to industrial users and surrounding communities. One particular installation was in Klevshult, Sweden, where Jernforsen Energi manufactured and delivered a 6 MW heating plant that uses locally-produced wood waste such as bark, sawdust, and wood chips.  Another facility the group visited was a mid-sized heating plant utilizing wood chips, located in the municipality of Gränna. At this plant, two 2 MW boilers along with a flue gas condensation unit operate at the heart of the plant.

Gregg Mast, vice president of the BioBusiness Alliance of Minnesota, said it is extremely important for key decision makers from Minnesota to have the opportunity to meet face-to-face with owners, managers, and technology suppliers of bioenergy facilities such as the ones visited in Sweden, in order to understand the economic, environmental, and social benefits that these types of installations have on their local and regional communities. “Decision-makers returned with project-specific information that will aid in advancing development of similar community-scale biomass district heating projects in Minnesota,” he said.

Magnus Anstrand, project manager for the Swedish Bioenergy Association, said the community-scale district heating model is an ideal fit for many locations in Minnesota, especially those cities without access to the natural gas grid.

The group attended the tours as part of the World Bioenergy 2012 conference held May 29-31 in Jönköping, Sweden.