Advice Notes on Biomass CHP Economics for the NPA Region

Biomass CHP

The Advice Notes aim to provide introductory material for entrepreneurs, startups and SME’s, considering to enter into the renewable energy sphere and based in the NPA regions partners to GREBE. The scope of the Advice Note covers regional, trade and industry, renewable energy (RE), technology information from Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Iceland and Finland. Different partner regions have different level of deployment of the various RE technologies covered by the Advice Notes. Thus, the level of information will vary depending on the level of deployment for each technology. For example, wind is not deployed on a large scale in North Karelia (Finland); however, it is widely deployed in Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Full details are available on the GREBE website:

http://grebeproject.eu/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/GREBE-Advice-Notes-biomass-chp-2.pdf

The focus of the Advice Notes is on regional information of some of the main economic characteristics sited as imperative, when making an informed choice, regarding which RE technology may be the optimal choice for a new business venture:

  • Costs and economics associated with the relevant technology
  • Support schemes available, relevant to the technology
  • Government allowance/exemptions, relevant to the technology
  • Funding available for capital costs of the relevant technology
  • List of the relevant to the technology suppliers/developers, with focus on local/regional, suppliers/developers and the products and services they offer.

 

Combined heat and power (CHP) is a method that delivers both heat and power on site in a single, highly efficient process, normally over 80% efficiency. CHP creates electricity and as a by-product of the generation process it produces heat. Wood biomass is fed into the CHP system similar to a normal biomass boiler and the produced gas is then fed to an engine which is connected to a generator generating electricity while the heat produced, can be fed into a heating system. Below is a map showing the productive forest potential in relation to the total area of the country. Biomass is the world’s fourth largest energy source, contributing to nearly 14% of the world’s primary energy demand.

Small scale (<100kW) and micro-scale (<15kW) biomass CHP are particularly suitable for applications in commercial buildings, such as hospitals, schools, industrial premises, office building blocks, and domestic buildings. Optimum system design and implementation is crucial for cost-effective operation and it is established that the best economic performance come about with high load factors when the maximum amount of both electricity and heat sold on-site is maximised.Untitled

A reliable feedstock supply chain is vital for the economic viability of a CHP system. Fuel costs are central since when considering the levelled cost of electricity and heat production, ongoing running costs far outweigh capital investment. CHP systems and specifically the ones smaller in scale necessitate fuel of the highest quality and have very low moisture content, wood chip/pellets between 15% and 30% moisture content. Thus, it is imperative before considering investment in a biomass CHP system to ensure that the right fuel can be sourced locally.

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Farmers warned felling licences taking a year to process – IFA

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Forestry felling licenses are taking up to a year to process farmers are being warned by the IFA. National Farm Forestry Chairman, Pat Collins said that the latest IFA Timber Price report shows that palletwood prices have increased by up to 15pc since February, while average sawlog prices are in excess of €85/tonne. Pat Collins said, “With demand for timber predicted to remain high at a domestic and global level, it is a good time to consider forestry. There are several options available under the Afforestation and Woodland Creation scheme to suit the soil, size, location and management objectives”.

He said that the size of a viable forest from a timber perspective is very location specific, for example a small forest that is near a road and easy to work can generate comparable timber incomes per hectare as a larger forests, particularly if managed as part of a harvesting cluster. “For those who have already planted, but who have not managed the forest or have timber in hard-to-access locations – now is the time to have your asset valued and look at realising a good price”. A farmer is legally required to apply to the Forest Service for a felling license before they can fell a tree in his plantation. If you are planning to apply for a felling licence, approvals can take up to 12 months to issue.

“Farmers are very concerned with the delays in getting felling licence approval”, said Mr. Collins. “The introduction of a single 10 year felling licence and the new public consultation process, although welcomed, is causing further delays”. He said that the Department must work to reduce the turnaround time for felling licence approvals so farmers can avail of the strong timber prices.

https://www.independent.ie/business/farming/forestry-enviro/forestry/farmers-warned-felling-licences-taking-a-year-to-process-ifa-36945543.html

Finnish experience in co-operative partnerships in small forest-based local heating energy businesses – outcomes from the MADIE project

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The MADIE project published a booklet which highlights the economics and organizational aspects of small local heating energy supply schemes set up in rural regions as a market-driven business by their owners for earning them a profit and, apart from private self-interests, for promoting the social claims of their stakeholders.

The booklet tells about the Finnish experience in co-operative partnerships, especially in small forest-based local heating energy businesses. Start-up entrepreneurs and their partners need inspiration and guidance in how to establish and operate their business successfully. Besides technical and market information, for starting and organizing a business, multifaceted upfront information is needed. Here, decisions as to the legal form, ownership, liabilities, participation rights and selecting the right partners, are crucial for the continuity of the business. There is a need for arguments that help persuade stakeholders about the legitimacy of the business and related social benefits.

The booklet addresses, among others, forest owners, rural entrepreneurs and their public stakeholders. Policy makers have been attracted by a business model that meets the triple bottom line: by offering an attractive return to investment, providing support to renewable energy transition, and creating jobs and income in rural economies. Co-operatives have been able to demonstrate to be a convenient participatory model of organizing joint business activities.

The booklet, with its focus on renewable energy co-operatives, contributes to the outcomes of the MADIE-project, an initiative supported by the European Union’s Erasmus programme, which offers a comprehensive range of views on multifunctional agriculture as a driver for innovation in rural Europe.

MADIE is funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union and coordinated by the German Starkmacher e.V. with partners Natural Resources Institute Finland (LUKE, Finland), County Governor of Hordaland (Norway), NAK Nonprofit Kft. (Hungary) and Terre di loppiano srl (Italy).

The booklet “Co-operatives and forest-based heating entrepreneurship in a rural setting – the Finnish experience” can be found from here or from the library at https://www.ruralacademy.org/contents

The booklet is available in English and also in Finnish (as summary report from the English version).

Information gained during the MADIE project are beneficial also for the GREBE project and are supporting the activity towards a guideline supporting enterprises in introducing new to market energy solutions.

Heat Entrepreneurs’ meeting, April 4th Kontiolahti, Finland

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Annual meeting of the Finnish Heat Entrepreneurs in North Karelia was organised by the Finnish Forest Centre in April 4th Kontiolahti. The event focused on the energy wood markets and current development challenges, new harvesting method trials, drying of wood by using excess heat of energy plants, and socio-economic impacts of local heat entrepreneurships. After the meeting, participants had a visit to the Kontiolahti 1.5 MW heating plant equipped with a 7.6 kW solar power system.

Adjunct professor Yrjö Nuutinen from LUKE introduced latest research on the new corridor thinning method. The method – with 1-2 thinning corridors harvested in different formations – has been earlier applied in Sweden, US and Canada. Now the corridor thinning is studied and tested for pine dominated first thinning stands in Finland, aiming that it will be a generally accepted thinning method and it fulfills the forest management requirements of Forestry Centre.

The latest results on the socio-economic impacts of Eno Energy Cooperative were presented by GREBE partner Dr Lasse Okkonen from Karelia UAS. The total employment impacts of the Eno Energy Cooperative in 2000-2015, were approximately 160 FTE’s and total income impact in the same period about 6.6 MEUR. During the period of highest oil prices, over 50% of the benefits resulted from heating cost savings of both private households and public sector.

Bioeconomy expert Urpo Hassinen, from the Finnish Forest Centre, presented the latest results on the firewood drying by utilising excess heat of the heating plants. There was potential, especially when existing infrastructure could be utilised. Drying of woodfuel could also compensate the decreasing heat demand resulting from closure of public estates in rural areas.

CEO Janne Tahvanainen presented the market outlook from an industry perspective. The market fluctuations, caused by the weather challenges in last summer and autumn, as well as varying imports from Russia, were discussed. Weather challenges were considered a most important factor affecting current markets. For instance snow damages have increased harvesting volumes in northern part of North Karelia, and moist summers and autumns have affected biomass drying. Impacts of weather conditions on RE markets are being further investigated through the GREBE project during this spring.

Use of data and technology to grow and harvest more wood

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TECH4EFFECT is a collaborative research project to increase access to wood resources. Data and knowledge based management will enable more efficient silviculture and harvesting, but also reduction of soil and environmental impact from forest operations with the TECH4EFFECT benchmarking system.

The strategic objective of TECH4EFFECT is to improve the efficiency of European forest management by enabling a data-driven knowledge-based revolution of the European forest sector while also providing key incremental improvements in technology. The TECH4EFFECT (Knowledge and Technologies for Effective Wood Procurement) project recently published a new animation video: https://youtu.be/54DDLTon7rg

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The TECH4EFFECT project has received funding under the Horizon2020 BBI (Bio-Based-Industries) programme by the European Union. The TECH4EFFECT project objectives are relevant also for the Northern Periphery regions and GREBE partner countries.

More information about the project can be found under http://www.tech4effect.eu/

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Finnish roundwood harvests to a record level in 2016

 

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Photo: Erkki Oksanen / Luke

The total amount of roundwood removed from Finnish forests for the forest industry or energy production was 70 million cubic metres in 2016. The figure was a new record and more than two million cubic metres higher than during the previous year.

According to statistics by the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), a total of 62.1 million cubic metres of roundwood were harvested for export or for the production of forest industry products. Of this volume, sawlogs accounted for 26.3 million cubic metres and pulpwood for 35.8 million cubic metres. The total volume increased by 3.3 million cubic metres or six per cent on the previous year. The industrial roundwood removals exceeded the annual average of the previous ten-year period by 9 million cubic metres or 17%.

A total of 8.2 million cubic metres of stemwood were harvested to be used as wood chips in heat and power plants or as fuelwood in residential housing. The volume decreased by 11% on the previous year, but was eight per cent higher than the average of the previous ten-year period. In addition to stemwood, logging residues and stumps were harvested from forests for energy production, totalling slightly less than three million cubic metres.

Volumes of wood to be used as wood chips are now recorded in the statistics on the basis of information reported by harvesting organisations, while in previous years the statistics were based on consumption volumes. This means that the information relating to the area where the forests are located and the right time, similarly to industrial roundwood, says Senior Statistician Jukka Torvelainen of the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke).

Total roundwood removals 70 million cubic metres, more than 85% of the maximum sustainable felling potential

The forest land used for wood production has close to 2,200 million cubic metres of roundwood. Luke estimates based on the results of the National Forest Inventory 11 that 81 million cubic metres of stemwood can be harvested in a sustainable way annually in this decade. Of this volume, 70 million cubic metres or approximately 87% were harvested in 2016. However, there was considerable regional variation in the utilisation rate of felling potential. Roundwood removals exceeded the estimated annual felling potential in many regions in Southeast Finland and in Häme. The utilisation rate for spruce was higher than that for other tree species, says Torvelainen.

Roundwood drain increased to 86 million cubic metres

The total annual drain is the combination of roundwood removals, logging residue left in the forest and naturally dead trees left in the forest. In 2016, the latter two totalled just over 15 million cubic metres, causing the annual drain to reach almost 86 million cubic metres. The volume was four per cent higher than during the previous year.

The annual increment of growing stock totals approximately 110 million cubic metres. It thus exceeded removals and natural drain by almost 25 million cubic metres even last year.” (Luke News)

The Original news article can be found from Luke´s news section under:

https://www.luke.fi/en/news/finnish-roundwood-harvests-record-level-2016/

“How to provide bioenergy in the Nordic and Baltic regions? Wood is the future!” – ENERWOODS

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The joint Nordic-Baltic collaborative research project ENERWOODS (wood based energy systems from Nordic and Baltic forests) has now concluded after four years of research and outreach. The project results clearly demonstrate both the leading role of forests and forestry in today’s renewable energy systems, and the large and often overlooked potential for further expanding the supply of wood and woody biomass – both in the short run, but particularly when employing a scope of 2050 and beyond.

It is expected that a 50-100 percent increase of forest productivity at the stand scale is possible. This is a conservative estimate and is viewed relative to today’s most common forest types, and in a sustainable forest management context.

The ENERWOODS project included partners from Sweden, Finland, Norway, Latvia, Estonia and Denmark. The results and conclusions apply to these “ENERWOODS-countries”.

GREBE partner Luke (Natural Resources Institute Finland) had the lead on the Work Package 2 – Forestry logistics. WP2 focused on wood procurement principles and systems optimized towards much higher woody biomass production, long distance transportation and precision supply.

How to provide bioenergy in the Nordic and Baltic regions? Wood is the future!

Why:

  • Wood and woody biomass is already the most important source of bioenergy in the Nordic and Baltic region.
  • Harvesting low-grade wood material can foster an increased biofuel supply in the coming decades.
  • Forests can become more productive, and adaptive to climate change by using well-known silvicultural measures
  • Forests can thereby contribute much more to a sustainable development of our societies towards carbon neutrality by 2050

How:

  • by genetic improvement, introduction of non-native tree species, fast growing nurse trees, fertilization as well as afforestation.

Utilisation and implementation depend on policies and regulations as well as public perceptions of nature conservation, biodiversity, recreation, game management, ground water etc. Diverging interests related to forestry and conservation can be aligned.

The large forest areas and the well-established forest management, forest industry and infrastructure in the Nordic and Baltic regions makes these regions well prepared along all of the value chains to implement the more intensive management if confidence in the profitability can be justified.

Woody biomass is already the largest contributor to our renewable energy systems. An increase of this component is likely to need relatively small additional investments to provide a high impact compared to other alternatives in the renewable energy systems.

Measures needed to reach the potentials of forests and forest management

The region is already in the frontline of replacing fossil energy with renewables. Currently renewables provide 46 percent of the total energy consumed, which is far more than the average EU target of 20 percent by 2020. Bioenergy and waste account for 65 – 97 percent of the renewable energy in Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Estonia and Latvia. Forestry products are the dominant fraction of the bioenergy supply. Unfortunately, statistics do not distinguish between biomass and waste nor the various sources of biomass (forestry, farming, peat etc.).

Logistics

ENERWOODS results indicate that modern logistic systems should be based on larger trucks than now, in addition to the trains and ships that generally are recognized at the most cost and climate efficient means for transportation whenever feasible.

Some of the measures mentioned can be implemented with short notice (fertilization and afforestation). A common rotation length in the region is now typically 70 years – longer under colder climate and shorter under warmer climate, and very much depending on e.g. other site conditions and species. Consequently, a full implementation will take longer than the 70 years.

The ENERWOODS project results can be relevant and find implementation possibilities also in the Northern Periphery regions and GREBE partner countries.

The complete ENERWOODS executive summary can be found through the following link: http://enerwoods.ku.dk/boxes/recommended-reading/ENERWOODS_Executive_summary_v._3.pdf