LUKE investigates alternatives to side-stream utilisation of Woodpolis Timber Cluster

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Natural Resources Institute Finland (LUKE) made a survey on the alternative uses of side streams of wood processing in Woodpolis industrial area in the City of Kuhmo. Woodpolis Timber Cluster consists of Kuhmo Ltd.’s large saw mill and some ten SME companies specialised in further processing of sawn timber and side-streams of wood processing. A good example of new growing industries in the area are CLT, cross laminated timber and element factories producing prefabricated building products for multi-storey and one-storey buildings, such as residential, office, school and kindergarten houses.

In addition to saw mill chips supplied to pulp mill, versatile side streams from saw dust and bark to massive left-over pieces of log house and CLT construction are produced in the area. In 2015, of the total amount of 475,000MWh of bioenergy from the side streams 376,000MWh was used at the local CHP plant or for the briquette and pellet production, and 99,000MWh was sold to other CHP plants in Northern Finland. However, oversupply of wood chips and pellets for bioenergy as well as long transport distances reduce the profitability of selling the entire excessive bioenergy fraction. Increase of pellet or briquette production is not seen very profitable either. Therefore, new ways of utilizing side streams are actively sought.

The most technically challenging side-stream fraction is CLT leftover pieces because of their variation in shape, dimensions and chemical composition. Once the product is piled up with gluing, chipping it back to bioenergy or bio-refinery fractions is not easy or reasonable. New ways of utilizing them are sought from packaging and wood panel industries. If chipped, semi-finished products for manufacturing of for example wood-plastic composites should be given preference over bioenergy uses.

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Bioethanol production would be a feasible step in the further processing of more advanced biofuel products from saw dust, planer shavings and bark. Biochar production for purposes which require bioactivity from the char, or for metallurgic processes may also provide promising options. In addition, saw dust and bark contain extracts some of which are already in the markets: for example, pine tar, turpentine, pyroligneous acid, and adhesives. However, bio-refineries (e.g. bioethanol plants) usually require large amounts of raw materials to be technically feasible and economically profitable, much more than what is generated now in Woodpolis industrial area.

Probably, the best potential for local bio-refinery production would be in high priced bioactive compounds or upgraded raw materials intended for uses like in health products, cosmetics, or food products. In all cases, new bio-refinery production in the Woodpolis area requires investments and operating capital, and attraction for new initiated entrepreneurship. There are no ready-made solutions for a new bio-refinery production. Technical implementation must be planned and tested on a realistic raw material basis and market perspective with a convincing proof-of-concept before the start of a full scale production. If they are realized, the new large-scale bio-refinery projects going on in Northern and Eastern Finland, St1’s bioethanol factory and KaiCell Fiber’s pulpmill and related bio-refinery activities being the closest, may increase quickly the demand of the side-streams generated in the Woodpolis industrial area.

The entrepreneurial community of Woodpolis Timber Cluster has worked together for a long time, which has enabled the refinement of joint development work and common practices. Therefore, Woodpolis can offer an example for other wood-based industrial clusters of the same kind about good practices, collaboration between SMEs and large companies regarding cooperation and new options to acquire and market raw materials, as well as product and service development activities.

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Regional Heat Study Workshops – Tuesday 15th May (Ballinasloe) & Wednesday 16th May (Ballybofey)

GREBE - WDC Regional Biomass Study Workshops - May 2018

The Western Development Commission (WDC) commissioned a regional renewable energy analysis on the use of biomass as a local contribution to the national renewable heat target and develop a range of actions to support the development of renewable energy in the region under the Action Plan for Jobs.  

The aim of this study is to inform how the WDC can support and develop biomass use in the Western region.  This study is now complete and RE:HEAT will present their findings in two workshops.

Tuesday 15th May, 2.00pm at the Shearwater Hotel, Ballinasloe, Co. Galway

Wednesday 16th May, 10.00am at Jacksons Hotel, Ballybofey, Co. Donegal

Participants will have the opportunity to engage with RE:HEAT consultants during the workshop and informally during the workshop lunch.

Agenda for Ballinasloe (Tuesday 15th – afternoon session)

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Agenda for Ballybofey (Wednesday 16th – morning session)

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Register your interest in attending via email to tomasmahon@wdc.ie or paulineleonard@wdc.ie or by phone to the WDC offices at +353 94 986 1881.  Closing date for registration is Thursday 10th May 2018.  While these events are free of charge, registration is required.

A summary of this report can be found here

Bioenergy 2017: The Irish Bioenergy Association hosts the National Bioenergy Conference

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A strong attendance list of 190 were present at the annual IrBEA Bioenergy Conference in Dublin on Thursday 9th February.

The programme featured four sessions, the first session focused on policy where Fergus Leamy, CEO of Coillte, the leading forestry, land owning, renewable energy and panel products business in Ireland, provided high-level insights on how we in Ireland can optimize our bioenergy potential. Matthew Clancy, Programme Manager for Low-Carbon Technologies at the SEAI talked about the detailed outlook and challenges for bioenergy in Ireland.

The timing of this conference was particularly appropriate in light of the final consultation on the Government’s proposed introduction of a renewable heat incentive (RHI). This very welcome development can be the key to unlocking the potential of bioenergy in Ireland. Getting to our renewable energy and climate change targets, generating energy from indigenous resources, reducing our dependence on imported fossil fuels, and promoting jobs and economic activity across the entire country, are just some of the benefits.

Reflecting the importance of this challenge we had a session on the RHI consultation delivered by Tom Bruton in the mid-morning sessions. Key speakers and advisors were present at the conference, and the attendees were given the opportunity to partake in a Q&A session to drum up ideas for a response to the consultation. IrBEA will submit a consultation response in mid-March.

After lunch, Session 3 concentrated on Project Finance. Garrett Monaghan of Arthur Cox covered the area of executing and financing biomass projects. He confirmed that capital is available for biomass projects but stressed the importance of planning, having experts on hand, and using funders as allies to help you get the job done. Garrett also looked at RHI implementation and addressed some of the current issues. Russell Smyth (KPMG) walked us through many projects scenarios which are up and running in the AD and W-E sector; commenting that there was a robust equity investment appetite for the sector.

Franceso Panzeri of Demetra gave the history of engineering and designing the ADBag. The solution is a modular system based on a prefabricated plastic bag, which is easy to be installed and maintained. Frank Donnelly of Northway Mushrooms detailed hands-on experiences of his farming business and how his dependence on different renewable energy supplies including biomass boilers and large solar panel investment has helped keep his business viable in changing economic times.

Further information about the Irish Bioenergy Association can be found on their website: http://www.irbea.org/