China has recently emerged as one of the economic powerhouses of the world. Not only does this status continue to redefine what was considered to represent a somewhat “backwards” society, but plenty of employment opportunities await. This has also given rise to several interesting trends. From the growing number of Chinese classes online which cater to foreign migrants to increased international investment, the future does indeed look bright.
It is also important to mention how China has begun to capitalise upon innovative solutions in the hopes of reducing the impacts of climate change. One interesting example can be seen in the use of bioenergy as a viable substitute for traditional fossil fuels. What are some current trends to note and are there any challenges that will need to be addressed in the coming years?
Many readers will be surprised to learn that up to 80 per cent of raw biomass materials are now being used to generate power throughout China. Considering the population of this nation, it only stands to reason that such sources of energy abound. Furthermore, the implementation of biomass will help to reduce China’s reliance upon outside nations. This provides a much-needed economic boost and promises an impressive long-term return on investment (ROI).
Such a pronounced trend is at least partially due to a younger Chinese generation that has now become well aware of their role in stemming the effects of climate change. Another undeniable benefit is the simple fact that bioenergy now represents a niche employment sector; providing plenty of opportunities for those with the appropriate skill sets.
What Challenges Await?
While all of the observations outlined above are rather promising, we also need to remember that there are some downsides attributed to biomass in relation to energy production. One potential issue involves industry competition as well as to decide how the resources themselves should be allocated. Wealth distribution could also come into play considering the role that corruption may play in terms of profit margins.
As this summary highlights, another possible sticking point could instead involve operational challenges including:
Other problems such as retooling existing factories in order to support biomass energy production can be rather complicated and expensive.
So, what might the future of bioenergy in China have in store? Most experts agree that relying upon fossil fuels alone as a source of electricity is no longer a viable option. So, it stands to reason that the Chinese government is looking carefully at how biomass can be used as an alternative. Officials also appreciate that many other nations have already curtailed their use of fuels such as coal and natural gas.
The main takeaway point here is that much like any other emerging industry, bioenergy is associated with undeniable advantages as well as some logistical challenges. Still, China should be able to rise to the occasion with planning and foresight.
Transporting biomass fuel to a power plant is an important aspect of any biomass energy project. Because a number of low moisture fuels can be readily collected and transported to a centralized biomass plant location or aggregated to enhance project size, this opportunity should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
It will be a good proposition to develop biomass energy plants at the location where the bulk of the agricultural waste stream is generated, without bearing the additional cost of transporting waste streams. Effective capture and use of thermal energy at the site for hot water, steam, and even chilled water requirements raises the energy efficiency of the project, thereby improving the value of the waste-to-energy project.
The hauling distance for biomass transportation to the processing plant.
Transportation infrastructure available between the points of biomass dispatch and processing plant
Transportation is primarily concerned with loading and unloading operation and transferring biomass from pre-processing sites to the main processing plant or biorefinery. Truck transport and for a few cases train transport may be the only modes of transport. Barge and pipeline transport and often train transport involve truck transport. Trucks interface with trains at loading and unloading facilities of a depot or processing facility. Barge and pipeline require interfacing with train and/or truck transport at major facilities either on land or at the shores.
Physical form and quality of biomass has the greatest influence on the selection of handling equipment for the lowest delivered cost possible. A higher bulk density will allow more mass of material to be transported per unit distance. Truck transport is generally well developed, is usually cheapest mode of transport but it becomes expensive as travel distance increases. Pipeline biomass transport is the least known technology and may prove to be the cheapest and safest mode of transport in the near future.
Transportation costs of low-density and high-moisture agricultural residues are a major constraint to their use as an energy source. As a rule of thumb, transportation distances beyond a 25–50- km radius (depending on local infrastructure) are uneconomical. For long distances, agricultural residues could be compressed as bales or briquettes in the field, rendering transport to the site of use a viable option.
Greater use of biomass and larger scale conversion systems demand larger scale feedstock handling and delivery infrastructure. To accommodate expansion in feedstock collection and transportation, production centres can be established where smaller quantities of biomass are consolidated, stored, and transferred to long-distance transportation systems, in much the same way that transfer stations are used in municipal waste handling. Preprocessing equipment may be used to densify biomass, increasing truck payloads and reducing transportation costs over longer haul distances.
The term agricultural residue is used to describe all the organic materials which are produced as by-products from harvesting and processing of agricultural crops. These residues can be further categorized into primary residues and secondary residues.
Agricultural residues, which are generated in the field at the time of harvest, are defined as primary or field based residues whereas those co-produced during processing are called secondary or processing based residues.
Primary agricultural residues – paddy straw, sugarcane top, maize stalks, coconut empty bunches and frond, palm oil frond and bunches;
Agricultural residues are highly important sources of biomass fuels for both the domestic and industrial sectors. Availability of primary residues for energy application is usually low since collection is difficult and they have other uses as fertilizer, animal feed etc.
However secondary residues are usually available in relatively large quantities at the processing site and may be used as captive energy source for the same processing plant involving minimal transportation and handling cost.
Crop residues encompasses all agricultural wastes such as straw, stem, stalk, leaves, husk, shell, peel, pulp, stubble, etc. which come from cereals (rice, wheat, maize or corn, sorghum, barley, millet), cotton, groundnut, jute, legumes (tomato, bean, soy) coffee, cacao, tea, fruits (banana, mango, coco, cashew) and palm oil.
Rice produces both straw and rice husks at the processing plant which can be conveniently and easily converted into energy. Significant quantities of biomass remain in the fields in the form of cob when maize is harvested which can be converted into energy.
Storage of biomass fuels is expensive and increases with capacity.
Sugarcane harvesting leads to harvest residues in the fields while processing produces fibrous bagasse, both of which are good sources of energy. Harvesting and processing of coconuts produces quantities of shell and fibre that can be utilised while peanuts leave shells. All these materials can be converted into useful energy by a wide range of biomass conversion technologies.
The steel manufacturing industry is one of the highest carbon emission sources globally, leading to the highest CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. The process from converting iron ore to graded steel includes a blast furnace, followed by a basic oxygen furnace and an electric arc furnace. The highest emissions are generated during coke production, blast furnace, i.e., Energy demand and GHG emissions in the Iron and Steel sector principally result from the large consumption of coal/coke used in conjunction with the blast furnace.
What is Green Steel
Green steel refers to the process of steel manufacturing with reduced GHG emissions into the atmosphere as well as potentially reducing cost and improving steel quality, as compared to conventional steel production. A study indicates that steel demand will keep on rising until the end of the 21st century, so there is a huge motivation to look for an alternative method of steel production that emits low greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions into the atmosphere.
Scrap steel recycling is a positive step toward alleviating emissions. However, based on the available scrap, this route can contribute 44% of the total steel production by the end of 2050, which is not sufficient to meet the growing demands.
Also, the issue with recycled steel is that they are contaminated with copper and tin, which causes surface cracking during the hot rolling process. An integrated steel recycling process with innovative routes can bring down the global warming to a manageable threat.
Blast furnace (BF) and basic oxygen furnace (BOF) contribute to 70% of total GHG emissions into the environment. The process reduces iron into ores, sinter and pellets using carbon-based lowering agents. Fluxes (or steel scrap) are added to the blast furnace to maintain the slag temperature and separate the impurities. The hot metal produced contains sulphur, phosphorous, manganese and silicon. The impurities are heated/reduced in BOF to produce high-quality steel with carbon below 2%. High Calcium and dolomite lime are utilized in multiple stages of this procedure and result in various improvements and advantages.
According to research, hydrogen-based and electricity-based steel production have minimal emissions into the atmosphere. However, this technology is still under investigation, some small-scale development has been done in the past, but large scale development is still under development phase.
Pathways for Green Steel Production – Opportunities and Challenges
Various alternative ways exist to produce low-grade carbon products such as carbon capture and storage (CCS), renewable hydrogen and high utilisation of biomass resources. The use of artificial iron units (AIUs) in iron steel production can reduce significant carbon emissions and high-grade steel production.
To minimize emissions, scrap use must be incorporated into the manufacturing process. The use of bioenergy resources in steel production can be a good option, but that goes through a long list of concerns, such as biomass availability, the capital cost of replacement of existing technology.
An Integrated Iron and Steel Mill (ISM) consists of many complex series of interconnected plants, where emissions come out from many sources (10 or more). Huge amount of CO2 is produced by the reduction reaction reactions occurring in the blast furnace and the combustion reaction in sintering, blast furnace and basic oxygen furnace.
Biomass can be used for steel production in place of coal, but this is discouraged by most industries, mainly because of huge biomass requirement, transportation, and storage requirement. Another alternative is the use of natural gas, which at present accounts for 20% of overall steel production in the world. Natural gas produces GHG emissions, which is feasible for small scale goals. If the end target is to achieve significant scale goals, then natural gas use integrated with carbon capture technology is beneficial.
The absorption process is another method used to separate CO2 from gas streams using chemical solvents. However, this process is very expensive because of the high thermal energy required to break the strong bond between solvents and CO2.
Adsorption is also a process to reduce CO2 where a gas stream is passed through the solid adsorbent (such as zeolites, activated carbon). The bed loaded with reduced pressure, increased temperature, and low voltage electric current is challenging to maintain to also expensive.
Gas separation is also a method to reduce GHG emissions, which works on the development of gas separation membranes (polymers, ceramics, zeolites and metals), depending on the difference in physical and chemical interactions. The reducing efficiency reaches up to 80% CO2 separation. In 2007, a simulation study revealed 97% of CO2 recovery from blast furnace gas. Ongoing research in Australia where researchers are developing new technology for gas separation membrane. The research aims to test a number of separation strategies, investigate the influence of syngas and minor gas components.
Hydrogen-based steel making route is another positive step toward green steel. Two different routes exist, direct hydrogen reduction and hydrogen plasma reduction. Small scale utilisation of hydrogen with up to 70% volume reduction was achieved, but the large-scale application is still under development.
The challenge lies mostly with the hydrogen-based DRI process, it produces 0% carbon which does not fulfil the carbon demand of the downstream process. The second issue is the supply of sufficient hydrogen. According to the study, the electricity cost for hydrogen production, considering the electrolysis to produce the hydrogen, should be less than 0.02 USD/kWh to make the process economically feasible. However, hydrogen storage supply and transportation costs are other scopes that still need to be explored.
As on closing comments, steel production is one of the highest GHG emitting sources globally. If not controlled, the commitment at Paris Climate Summit 2015 to hold global temperature below 2℃ seems lost way before the set target date of 2050.
Promoting green steel production can be majorly significant with the targets. Technologies exist that can reduce GHG emissions, and some of them are under commission at a small scale; however, large scale implementation is yet to get approval from research integrity.
Existing technologies are very expensive, or they do have technical challenges which are economically costly to manage. Hydrogen-based steel production is a technology that looks very promising. Researchers are working on the project to analyse the economic and technical feasibility at a large scale.
Considering the fact that Pakistan is among the world’s top-10 sugarcane producers, the potential of generating electricity from bagasse is huge. Almost all the sugar mills in Pakistan have in-house plants for cogeneration but they are inefficient in the consumption of bagasse. If instead, high pressure boilers are installed then the production capacity can be significantly improved with more efficient utilization of bagasse.
However, due to several reasons; mostly due to financing issues, the sugar mill owners were not able to set up these plants. Only recently, after financial incentives have been offered and a tariff rate agreed upon between the government and mill owners, are these projects moving ahead.
The sugar mill owners are more than willing to supply excess electricity generated form the in-house power plants to the national grid but were not able to before, because they couldn’t reach an agreement with the government over tariff. The demand for higher tariff was justified because of large investments in setting up new boilers. It would also have saved precious foreign exchange which is spent on imported oil.
By estimating the CDM potential of cogeneration (or CHP) projects based on biofuels, getting financing for these projects would be easier. Renewable energy projects can be developed through Carbon Development Mechanism or any other carbon credit scheme for additional revenue.
Since bagasse is a clean fuel which emits very little carbon emissions it can be financed through Carbon Development Mechanism. One of the reasons high cogeneration power plants are difficult to implement is because of the high amount of costs associated. The payback period for the power plants is unknown which makes the investors reluctant to invest in the high cogeneration project. CDM financing can help improve the rate of return of the project.
Bagasse power plants generate Carbon Emission Reductions in 2 ways; one by replacing electricity produced from fossil fuels. Secondly if not used as a fuel, it would be otherwise disposed off in an unsafe manner and the methane emissions present in biomass would pollute the environment far more than CO2 does.
Currently there are around 83 sugar mills in Pakistan producing about 3.5 million metric tons of sugar per annum with total crushing capacity 597900 TCD, which can produce approximately 3000 MW during crop season Although it may seem far-fetched at the moment, if the government starts to give more attention to sugar industry biomass rather than coal, Pakistan can fulfill its energy needs without negative repercussions or damage to the environment.
However some sugar mills are opting to use coal as a secondary fuel since the crushing period of sugarcane lasts only 4 months in Pakistan. The plants would be using coal as the main fuel during the non-crushing season. The CDM effect is reduced with the use of coal. If a high cogeneration plant is using even 80% bagasse and 20% of coal then the CERs are almost nullified. If more than 20% coal is used then the CDM potential is completely lost because the emissions are increased. However some sugar mills are not moving ahead with coal as a secondary fuel because separate tariff rates have to be obtained for electricity generation if coal is being used in the mix which is not easily obtained.
Pakistan has huge untapped potential for bagasse-based power generation
One of the incentives being offered by the State Bank of Pakistan is thatif a project qualifies as a renewable project it is eligible to get loan at 6% instead of 12%. However ones drawback is that, in order to qualify as a renewable project, CDM registration of a project is not taken into account.
Although Pakistan is on the right track by setting up high cogeneration power plants, the use of coal as a secondary fuel remains debatable. The issue that remains to be addressed is that with such huge amounts of investment on these plants, how to use these plants efficiently during non-crushing period when bagasse is not available. It seems almost counter-productive to use coal on plants which are supposed to be based on biofuels.
With the demand for energy in Pakistan growing, the country is finally exploring alternatives to expand its power production. Pakistan has to rely largely on fossils for their energy needs since electricity generation from biomass energy sources is considered to be an expensive option despite abundance of natural resources. However by focusing on growing its alternate energy options such as bagasse-based cogeneration, the country will not only mitigate climate change but also tap the unharnessed energy potential of sugar industry biomass.
Biomass is material originating from plant and animal matter. Biomass energy uses biomass to create energy by burning organic materials. The heat energy released through burning these materials can heat homes or water. Heated water produces steam, which in turn can generate electricity. Using organic materials to create heat and power is an eco-friendlier alternative compared to using fossil fuels. Here’s more about the benefits of biomass energy
1. Indefinitely Renewable
The majority of the world’s energy comes from burning fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are a finite resource. Once fossil fuel resources run out, new fuel sources will be needed to meet global energy demands. Biomass offers a solution to meet this need.
Organic waste material from agriculture and logging operations, animal manure, and sludge from wastewater treatment are all viable fuels for generating biomass energy. As long as the earth is inhabited, these materials will be readily available.
2. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Organic waste that would typically be disposed of in landfills could be redirected for biomass energy use. This reduces the amount of material in landfills and slows the rate at which landfills are filled. Some of the most common waste products used for biomass energy are wood chips and agricultural waste products. Wood materials can easily be converted from already existing wood structures that will be destroyed, such as wooden furniture and log cabins, preferably both would also come from responsible logging and practices as well.
As more organic waste is diverted from landfills, the number of new landfills needed would be reduced. Older landfills are at risk for leaking leachate. Leachate contains many environmental pollutants that can contaminate groundwater sources.
Burning fossil fuel releases carbon into the atmosphere which was previously trapped below ground. Trapped carbon isn’t at risk for contributing to global climate change since it can’t interact with air. Each time fossil fuels are burned, they allow previously trapped carbon to enter the atmosphere and contribute to global climate change. In comparison, biofuel is carbon-neutral.
The materials used to create biomass energy naturally release carbon into the environment as they decompose. Living plants and trees use carbon dioxide to grow and release oxygen into the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide released by burning organic material will be absorbed by existing plants and trees. The biomass cycle is carbon-neutral as no new carbon is introduced to the system.
3. Smaller Carbon Footprint
The amount of unused farmland is increasing as agriculture becomes more efficient. Maintaining open land is expensive. As a result, farmers are selling off their property for new developments. Unused open agricultural land could be used to grow organic material for biofuels.
Converting open tracts of land to developed areas increases the amount of storm-water runoff. Storm-water runoff from developed areas contains more pollutants than storm-water runoff from undeveloped areas. Using open areas to grow biomass sources instead of creating new developments would reduce water pollution.
A quick glance at popular biomass resources
Forested areas also provide sources of biofuel material. Open land converted to sustainable forestry would create new animal habitats and offset carbon emissions from existing fossil fuel sources as more plants and trees would be available to absorb carbon dioxide.
4. Social Benefits of Biomass Energy
Burning fossil fuels releases sulfur dioxide, mercury and particulate matter into the atmosphere which can cause asthma, cancer and respiratory problems. Biomass energy emits less harmful byproducts compared to fossil fuels, which means cleaner air and healthier people.
Biofuel can improve rural economies by providing more people with unused land the opportunity to grown biomass material for energy use. Workers would be needed to harvest and process the materials needed to generate biofuel.
Increasing biomass energy usage can reduce forest fires. Selectively reducing brush can still reduce the risk of wildfires spreading. Exposing underbrush and groundcover to rainfall decreases the change of it drying out and creating optimal, fire spreading conditions.
Woody biomass creates an increasing percentage of heating from combined heat and power (CHP) plants with a goal to for 100 percent of hearing to be derived from woody biomass by 2035. Another form of biomass is agricultural biomass. This form utilizes materials such as straw and corn to create end-products like electricity, heating and biofuels.
The Danish Energy Agency has developed a plan including four scenarios that will help Denmark become fossil fuel free by 2050. The biomass scenario involves CHP for electricity and district heating, indicating that biomass energy is important in Denmark’s energy sector today and will play an increasingly important role in the future.
Biomass offers an eco-friendly and renewable method of reducing pollution and the effects of global climate change. And, like other forms of renewable energy, the products needed to develop biomass energy are readily available.
Net Zero is a concept that’s gained significant traction in the world of politics and business. Simply put, an organisation which has achieved ‘net zero’ emissions is one that’s taking more carbon out of the atmosphere than it’s putting in.
The race to Net Zero
The United Nations has sought to encourage this trend through its ‘Race to Zero’ campaign, which requires that participants identify their current emissions, and then execute a plan to deal with them, publishing their results along the way.
In practice, this means limiting emissions as much as possible, and then investing in offsetting to cover the rest. This might mean planting more trees to suck up the carbon in the long term. But there are other methods, too, and Bioenergy is among the most promising.
What is Bioenergy?
Bioenergy is energy that we obtain through biomass. If you’re burning timber, plants and food waste, then you’re generating Bioenergy. But burning is just one method of getting at the energy stored in living things: you might also store biomass in a sealed tank, so that it releases methane gas, which can be burned. Methane gas is much more damaging than carbon dioxide, and so storing the biomatter in a tank, rather than burying it, can be a net benefit for the environment, especially when compared with the alternative options.
Bioenergy has the advantage of being available everywhere in the world, which would make it a more secure form of energy that’s less vulnerable to changes in global supply. This goes especially if it’s part of a diversified range of energy sources.
One of the problems with Bioenergy is that it requires large amounts of land and water to be feasible. This is land that might be put to use elsewhere – in maintaining large forests and growing plants for human (and animal) consumption.
Of course, Bioenergy doesn’t need to entirely supplant fossil fuels in order to be useful. It can instead form a valuable part of a diversified green energy economy. It has the advantage over wind and solar in that the biomass can be stored – albeit temporarily. As such, we might see it used to smooth out any interruptions in power that come about when the wind stops blowing or the sun stops shining. A reputable energy transition law firm will usually recommend the technology alongside a suite of others, including solar, wind, carbon capture, and ‘new’ nuclear.
Provided that we’re planting as much biomass as we’re burning, this practice is effectively infinitely renewable and carbon-neutral. So, a firm might invest a given amount in energy from biomass, and then invest the rest in planting new trees to replace the ones being burned, in order to achieve its Net Zero ambitions.
Renewable energy. Clean energy. Green energy. Sustainable energy. Alternative Energy. Renewal Energy. No matter what you call it, energy such as wind, solar, biomass and hydroelectric is having an impact on your life and could have an even bigger impact in the future. Renewable energy, in the most basic terms, is precisely what it sounds like. It’s power that comes from sources that regenerate, unlike fossil fuels, which only exist in a limited amount.
The cost of alternative energy systems has dropped sharply in recent years
From 2000 to 2016, the use of renewables in the United States more than doubled and is expected to continue to grow. In 2016, they made up about 10 percent of total energy consumption and 15 percent of electricity generation. During the last 5 years, green energy patents filing worldwide has increased by 50 percent. Consumption of renewable energy has grown worldwide due to government incentives and requirements for renewable energy and the desire to switch to cleaner fuel in order to protect the environment.
The U.S. solar industry has grown at an average annual rate of 68 percent over the last decade in the form of rooftop solar panels for individual buildings, solar farms built by utility companies and community solar projects, which produce solar for energy users in a certain area through a collection of solar panels.
In Australia the solar industry is also increasing with a record breaking 3.5 million panels installed last year. Queensland was the leader in solar panels that were installed.
Solar photovoltaic panels capture sunlight and convert it directly into electricity, which can power a small device such as a watch or sent into the grid to be distributed to a utility’s customers.
People have been using windmills to utilize the wind’s energy for a long time, but today wind turbines are used to capture that energy and turn it into electricity. There are approximately 53,000 wind turbines operating in the United States today.
Wind turbines consist of a large tower, which is often around 100 feet tall, and several blades that use the power of the wind to spin. The blades are connected to a shaft that spins a generator in order to create electricity.
Like solar energy, power generated with wind can either be used for a specific application such as pumping water or powering a farm, or transferred into the electrical grid to meet other energy needs.
Biomass is another common form of renewable energy. Biomass is any natural substance such as wood, plant matter, gas from landfills and even municipal solid waste that contains stored energy from the sun.
When those substances are burned, they release that energy, which can be used as heat or fuel. Biomass can also be made into a liquid or gas that can be used as fuel.
Bioliquids, such as ethanol and biodiesel, are frequently used to power vehicles. Around 40 percent of the corn grown in the U.S. today is used for biofuels. Researchers are currently exploring new ways biomass can be used and additional substances that could be used for biomass energy.
When water flows, it produces energy. We capture this energy by allowing moving water in rivers, waterfalls or elsewhere to turn generators that produce electricity. Hydroelectric plants can also be man-made, as is the case with dams. Man-made reservoirs hold water through the use of dams. That water is then released to flow through a turbine and create electricity.
Biofuels are increasingly being used to power vehicles
Another key advantage is the fact that they are renewable, which means we won’t ever run out of them. This stability could make access to energy more stable in the future. It can also keep energy prices more predictable, because the markets are subject to changes in supply.
Renewable energy is also flexible and can power large areas or single homes. Additionally, renewable energy projects create a number of well-paying jobs and tend to have a significant economic impact.
Key Drawbacks of Clean Energy
Just like with fossil fuels, there are some disadvantages as well. Renewable energy plants are subject to fluctuations in wind, sunlight and other natural resources, meaning some days or in some particular months, a facility might produce more electricity than others. Today, in areas where renewables are common, fossil fuels are often used to make up any shortcoming in renewable energy production.
Due to their reliance on natural occurrences, renewables may fare better in some areas than others. An area with lots of direct sun all day long will be more suitable for a solar plant than somewhere that’s often dark and cloudy. Renewable energy projects also often require large areas of land, and while renewable energy tends to be cheap, initial construction and development costs can be quite high.
Biomass is being increasingly used in power plants in Japan as a source of fuel, particularly after the tragic accident at Fukushima nuclear power plant in 2011. Palm kernel shell (PKS) has emerged as a favorite choice of biomass-based power plants in the country. Most of these biomass power plants use PKS as their energy source, and only a few operate with wood pellets. Interestingly, most of the biomass power plants in Japan have been built after 2015.
Palm Kernel Shells
Palm Kernel Shell is generating very good traction as a renewable energy resource and biomass commodity in Japan. This is because PKS is the cheapest biomass fuel and is available in large quantities across Southeast Asia. PKS, a biomass waste generated by palm oil mills, can be found in plentiful quantities in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand.
PKS must meet the specifications before being exported to Japan. Some key specifications for PKS exports are: moisture content, calorific value and impurities or contaminants (foreign materials). All three variables must meet a certain level to achieve export quality. Japanese markets or their consumers generally require contaminants from 0.5 to 2%, while European consumers of PKS need 2% – 3%.
Japan usually buys with a volume of 10,000 tonnes per shipment, so PKS suppliers must prepare a sufficient stockpile of the PKS. The location of PKS stockpile that is closest to the seaport is the ideal condition to facilitate transportation of shipment.
PKS has emerged as an attractive biomass commodity in Japan
Wood pellets are mostly produced in from wood waste such as sawdust, wood shaving, plywood waste, forestry residues, and related materials while using tools like track saws, table saws, circular saws, miter saws, etc. The development potential for quantity enlargement is also possible with energy plantations. Technically the properties of wood pellets are not much different from the PKS.
Wood pellet price is more expensive than PKS. Wood pellet production process is more complex than PKS, so wood pellet is categorized as finished product. The quality of wood pellet is generally viewed from its density, calorific value and ash content. Indonesia wood pellet export is not as big as PKS, it is also because of the limited producers of wood pellet itself.
Japan buys wood pellets from Indonesia mostly for testing on their biomass power plants. Shipping or export by container is still common in wood pellet sector because the volume is still small. Currently, the world’s leading producer of wood pellets come from North America and Scandinavia. Even for Indonesia itself wood pellet is a new thing, so its production capacity is also not big.
For a short-term solution, exporting PKS is a profitable business. Wood pellets with raw materials from energy plantations by planting the legume types such as calliandra are medium-term solutions to meet biomass fuel needs in Japan. Torrefaction followed by densification can be a long-term orientation. Torrified pellet is superior to wood pellet because it can save transportation and facilitate handling, are hydrophobic and has higher calorific value.
Biomass is a key renewable energy resource that includes plant and animal material, such as wood from forests, material left over from agricultural and forestry processes, and organic industrial, human and animal wastes. The energy contained in biomass originally came from the sun. Through photosynthesis carbon dioxide in the air is transformed into other carbon containing molecules (e.g. sugars, starches and cellulose) in plants. The chemical energy that is stored in plants and animals (animals eat plants or other animals) or in their waste is called biomass energy or bioenergy.
A quick glance at popular biomass resources
What is Biomass
Biomass comes from a variety of sources which include:
Wood from natural forests and woodlands
Agricultural residues such as straw, stover, cane trash and green agricultural wastes
Crop residues encompasses all agricultural wastes such as bagasse, straw, stem, stalk, leaves, husk, shell, peel, pulp, stubble, etc. Large quantities of crop residues are produced annually worldwide, and are vastly underutilised. Rice produces both straw and rice husks at the processing plant which can be conveniently and easily converted into energy.
McLeod Harvester fractionates the harvested crop into straw and graff
Significant quantities of biomass remain in the fields in the form of cob when maize is harvested which can be converted into energy. Sugar cane harvesting leads to harvest residues in the fields while processing produces fibrous bagasse, both of which are good sources of energy. Harvesting and processing of coconuts produces quantities of shell and fibre that can be utilized.
Current farming practice is usually to plough these residues back into the soil, or they are burnt, left to decompose, or grazed by cattle. These residues could be processed into liquid fuels or thermochemically processed to produce electricity and heat. Agricultural residues are characterized by seasonal availability and have characteristics that differ from other solid fuels such as wood, charcoal, char briquette. The main differences are the high content of volatile matter and lower density and burning time.
2. Animal Waste
There are a wide range of animal wastes that can be used as sources of biomass energy. The most common sources are animal and poultry manure. In the past this waste was recovered and sold as a fertilizer or simply spread onto agricultural land, but the introduction of tighter environmental controls on odour and water pollution means that some form of waste management is now required, which provides further incentives for waste-to-energy conversion.
The most attractive method of converting these organic waste materials to useful form is anaerobic digestion which gives biogas that can be used as a fuel for internal combustion engines, to generate electricity from small gas turbines, burnt directly for cooking, or for space and water heating.
3. Forestry Residues
Forestry residues are generated by operations such as thinning of plantations, clearing for logging roads, extracting stem-wood for pulp and timber, and natural attrition. Harvesting may occur as thinning in young stands, or cutting in older stands for timber or pulp that also yields tops and branches usable for biomass energy. Harvesting operations usually remove only 25 to 50 percent of the volume, leaving the residues available as biomass for energy.
Stands damaged by insects, disease or fire are additional sources of biomass. Forest residues normally have low density and fuel values that keep transport costs high, and so it is economical to reduce the biomass density in the forest itself.
4. Wood Wastes
Wood processing industries primarily include sawmilling, plywood, wood panel, furniture, building component, flooring, particle board, moulding, jointing and craft industries. Wood wastes generally are concentrated at the processing factories, e.g. plywood mills and sawmills. The amount of waste generated from wood processing industries varies from one type industry to another depending on the form of raw material and finished product.
Generally, the waste from wood industries such as saw millings and plywood, veneer and others are sawdust, off-cuts, trims and shavings. Sawdust arise from cutting, sizing, re-sawing, edging, while trims and shaving are the consequence of trimming and smoothing of wood. In general, processing of 1,000 kg of wood in the furniture industries will lead to waste generation of almost half (45 %), i.e. 450 kg of wood. Similarly, when processing 1,000 kg of wood in sawmill, the waste will amount to more than half (52 %), i.e. 520 kg wood.
5. Industrial Wastes
The food industry produces a large number of residues and by-products that can be used as biomass energy sources. These waste materials are generated from all sectors of the food industry with everything from meat production to confectionery producing waste that can be utilised as an energy source.
Solid wastes include peelings and scraps from fruit and vegetables, food that does not meet quality control standards, pulp and fibre from sugar and starch extraction, filter sludges and coffee grounds. These wastes are usually disposed of in landfill dumps.
Liquid wastes are generated by washing meat, fruit and vegetables, blanching fruit and vegetables, pre-cooking meats, poultry and fish, cleaning and processing operations as well as wine making.
These waste waters contain sugars, starches and other dissolved and solid organic matter. The potential exists for these industrial wastes to be anaerobically digested to produce biogas, or fermented to produce ethanol, and several commercial examples of waste-to-energy conversion already exist.
Pulp and paper industry is considered to be one of the highly polluting industries and consumes large amount of energy and water in various unit operations. The wastewater discharged by this industry is highly heterogeneous as it contains compounds from wood or other raw materials, processed chemicals as well as compound formed during processing. Black liquor can be judiciously utilized for production of biogas using anaerobic UASB technology.
6. Municipal Solid Wastes and Sewage
Millions of tonnes of household waste are collected each year with the vast majority disposed of in open fields. The biomass resource in MSW comprises the putrescibles, paper and plastic and averages 80% of the total MSW collected. Municipal solid waste can be converted into energy by direct combustion, or by natural anaerobic digestion in the engineered landfill.
At the landfill sites, the gas produced, known as landfill gas or LFG, by the natural decomposition of MSW (approximately 50% methane and 50% carbon dioxide) is collected from the stored material and scrubbed and cleaned before feeding into internal combustion engines or gas turbines to generate heat and power. The organic fraction of MSW can be anaerobically stabilized in a high-rate digester to obtain biogas for electricity or steam generation.
Sewage is a source of biomass energy that is very similar to the other animal wastes. Energy can be extracted from sewage using anaerobic digestion to produce biogas. The sewage sludge that remains can be incinerated or undergo pyrolysis to produce more biogas.
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