News item | 2011-11-16 | 15:30 PM

Research and Development contributes to Vattenfall’s biomass target by improving performance of stand-alone biomass plants

Biomass is an important energy source that will help Vattenfall to reduce CO2-exposure and maintain security of supply at the same time. Stand-alone biomass plants contribute significantly to Vattenfall’s target for increased biomass use.

8 TWh biomass today

Today Vattenfall uses more than 3 million tons (8 TWh) of biomass each year. About 60% of this biomass is household and industrial waste, 30% is by-products from the forest industry and the rest is mainly agricultural by-products. Vattenfall has about 20 biomass and/or waste CHP (combined heat and power) and power plants in operation.

Super heater test loop before and after exposure

Material research is essential for higher electrical efficiency in biomass plants. The picture shows a 600 °C steam superheater test loop in the biomass-fired plant Idbäcken, before and after exposure. The maximum steam temperature in most biomass-fired plants today is approximately 540 °C.

In addition, Vattenfall currently investigates possibilities to build about ten new stand-alone biomass plants before 2020. If built, these plants would use about 1.7 million tons (4.5 TWh) biomass per year.

Stand-alone plants can make use of local and regional biomass fuels that are often not suitable for co-combustion in hard coal-fired plants requiring high-grade refined fuels. Due to the lower quality, local fuels often have a lower cost.

Biomass plants are a viable option for district heating production, where the fuel can be used with a high total efficiency to produce both electricity and heat. New biomass plants can replace old fossil-fired units, thus making it possible for Vattenfall to offer “green heat”. Furthermore, there are attractive incentive schemes for stand-alone biomass plants in all Vattenfall core markets.

Business Units R&D Projects and Engineering support the investment projects that BU Thermal Projects is developing

R&D projects on stand-alone biomass plants are performed in order to improve performance of current plants as well as support the planned investment projects in terms of cost-efficiency.

One R&D area is the development of fuel-flexible plants, where costs and technology for plants that can adapt to variations in the fuel market are investigated. Another area of research is increased electrical efficiency in the plants. The long-term development is for higher steam data, advanced process solutions and larger plants. The short-term focus is on the best available and most cost-effective technology offered by the suppliers today. One option for increased electrical production is pre-drying of the fuel before the boiler.

The R&D projects strive to work closely with the planned projects, for example by case studies for real projects, to investigate new technologies and solutions. One example is the “Bio demo” project, where case studies of plant concepts with advanced steam data and process solutions were performed for the planned projects Klingenberg (Germany), Uppsala (Sweden) and Utrecht (the Netherlands).

More biomass to reduce the CO2 footprint

Vattenfall has the ambition to reduce its CO2 emissions significantly in the coming years. An increased biomass use is vital to reach this goal. The current goal is to reduce the emission of fossil CO2 by 8-10 million tons per year by co-combusting 4-5 million tons (25-30 TWh) of refined biomass by 2020. In addition to biomass co-combustion, stand-alone biomass plants can contribute significantly to the CO2 reduction target.

More information on biomass 
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For more information, please contact:
Maria Jonsson,
BD Asset Development, BU Engineering, Business Area R&D, 
+46 70 679 68 42.

Maria Parent
Head of R&D Communication, +46 76 807 65 50.