Irish facility to produce fuel briquettes with 50 percent biomass

By Erin Voegele | June 21, 2013

U.K.-based CPL Industries has announced plans to build a new E Coal 50 production facility. E Coal 50 is a blended home heating fuel that contains 33 percent biomass, 17 percent molasses and 50 percent fossil fuels. According to information released by the company, it has been selling the briquette fuel in Ireland for the past year.

The plant will be located at the Port of Foynes near Limerick, Ireland. The facility will initially have a production capacity of 200,000 metric tons, but will be designed to enable an expansion to 300,000 metric tons. When fully operational, the plant will take in approximately 80,000 tons of biomass annually. The facility is expected to commence operations in 2015.

In addition to containing 50 percent renewable content, information published by CPL states that the fuel produces 40 percent less carbon dioxide and 80 percent less smoke than traditional coal. It also burns 38 percent hotter.

CPL specializes in the production of smokeless fuels, and has been manufacturing those products since the 1940s. The company entered the Irish solid fuel market in 2011. According to information released by CPL, its board has elected to make the €20 million ($26.54 million) investment in the new plant due to a recent announcement by Ireland’s Environment Minister Phil Hogan that the sale of smoky coal would be banned in the future. A press release issued by CPL specifies that investment in the new plant is subject to planning, suitable implementation of the proposed ban, and appropriate government support for biofuels.

“Ireland is the first country in Europe to move towards a ban on the sale of smoky coal.  This is a very welcome initiative spearheaded by Minister Hogan,” said Tim Minett, CPL CEO. “Not only has it been widely welcomed by healthcare and environmental groups but it has also given us the impetus to take this decision.  We trust that the government will work to encourage customers to switch to these new fuels in the three-year switchover period as they have done with other green initiatives. This can be achieved by both continuing to fund more energy efficient homes and by zero-rating these new fuels for Carbon Tax for a limited time between now and 2016.  We can supply a smoke-free product that has superior heat output and burn time than traditional bituminous coal.  We have been selling ‘E coal 50’ in Ireland for the past year and the response to the product has been very encouraging.”

Minett added that his company will be using a proprietary technology at the plant that will allow for the use of a larger range of biomass than the company has used in the past. “Currently, we use a significant amount of imported biomass such as olive stones to produce this product and we plan to progressively substitute this with locally grown biomass.  Ireland is a country that currently imports some 300,000 tonnes of smoky coal from Poland and Colombia. This new fuel policy can contribute to greater fuel security in Ireland,” he said.