Perspectives: End Point

Renewable Energy Movement Grows in Europe

Projects for a variety of technologies land $1.36 billion in funding.

By Seán Ottewell, Editor at Large

Announced on July 8, the second portion of funding under the European Commission’s NER 300 program for renewable energy development is providing €1 billion to 19 projects.

As expected, a U.K.-based carbon capture and storage (CCS) project received the lion’s share of the funds —  €300 million ($418 million). Known as the White Rose CCS, that project involves the building and operation of a full CCS chain, which includes a coal power plant capturing carbon dioxide, onshore and offshore pipelines transporting the greenhouse gas and an offshore storage safely encasing carbon dioxide. The new oxyfuel coal power plant and carbon dioxide processing and compression units will be built at the Drax power plant site near Selby, U.K. (See “U.K. Carbon Capture Project Gets Big Boost.")

Together, the 19 projects are designed to demonstrate technologies that subsequently will help to scale-up production from renewable energy sources across the European Union (EU) as well as those that can remove and store carbon emissions. Other projects to receive funding include bioenergy, concentrated solar power, geothermal power, photovoltaics, wind power, ocean energy and smart grids.

Connie Hedegaard, EU commissioner for climate action, says, “With these first-of-a-kind projects, we will help protect the climate and make Europe less energy dependent. The €1 billion ($1.36 billion) we are awarding will leverage some additional €900 million ($1.23 billion) of private investment. So that is almost €2 billion ($2.72 billion) of investment in climate-friendly technologies here in Europe. This is a contribution to reducing Europe’s energy bill of more than €1 billion ($1.36 billion) per day that we pay for our imported fossil fuels.”

Second in funding, with €203.7 million ($277.3 million), is the Swedish Bio2G project. Run by E.ON Sverige, Malmö, Sweden, Bio2G aims to demonstrate the large-scale production of synthetic natural gas (SNG) from woody biomass. The capacity of the plant is 200 MWth of SNG. Pressurized SNG will be fed into an existing natural gas pipeline. The process will use some one-million mt/y of woody biomass, mainly composed of forest residue. Landskrona and Malmö are two project locations currently under consideration within the Swedish environmental permitting process.

The SNG process begins with drying the fuel before it’s fed into a pressurized fluidized bed gasifier (10 bar/850°C) and converted into a product gas, which is cleaned from particulates and gaseous contaminants. Oxygen/steam will be used as a gasification agent to minimize the contents of nitrogen in the final product; the plant will include an air separation unit. A catalytic reformer reduces the gas’s tar content. The gas is further conditioned to clean synthesis gas before compression and methanation. Acid gases such as hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide are removed upstream of the methanation and the remaining carbon dioxide and water are removed downstream. Finally, the bio­SNG is compressed to the required pressure of the existing natural gas transportation grid. (For more on efforts to convert woody biomass to gasoline, see Pilot Plant's Success Boosts Bio Gasoline.)  

The Bio2G plant will be the first of its kind — a reference plant — and in the future, believes E.ON Sverige, thermal gasification of ligno­cellulosic fuels and methanation will offer bio­SNG yields in excess of 65%.
   
 Other biomass projects that attracted funding include the MET project, which targets commercial-scale production of second-generation ethanol from plant dry matter in Holstebro, Denmark (€39.3 million, $53.5 million), and the TORR project in Rakke, Estonia (€25 million, $34 million).

The MET plant will produce 64.4 million liters of ethanol; 77,000 metric tons of lignin pellets; 1.51 million Nm3 of methane and 75,000 metric tons of liquid waste annually which will be transformed into biogas and injected into the national gas grid after it’s upgraded into methane. The process will use 250,000 mt/y of locally sourced straw.

Torrefaction of biomass is a mild form of pyrolysis at low temperatures typically ranging from 200–320°C. The Rakke plant is being readied for production of 100,000 mt/y of bio-coal from 260,000 mt/y of local woody biomass. The project includes a biomass gasification CHP unit that will provide heat and power to the plant. The technology has been developed in order to use cheaper feedstock (low-quality biomass) to produce an intermediate product with a high calorific value.

More on the projects can be found at http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-14-780_en.htm


ottewell.jpgSeán Ottewell is Chemical Processing's Editor at Large. You can e-mail him at sottewell@putman.net

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