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Growing demand for biomass from energy recovery sector

Growing demand for biomass from energy recovery sector
Biomass handling at a terminal (photo courtesy Geminor).

The high demand for biomass fuel from European energy-from-waste (EfW) plant operators has prompted Norway-headed biomass and waste-derived fuel aggregators and suppliers Geminor AS to increase its focus on the upstream market in Europe.

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Biomass is a fraction consisting of residual materials from forestry, such as unmerchantable timber, waste bark, logging residues, and other wood that cannot be used for products like construction materials or pulp.

Peter Roland, who is in charge of the biomass fraction at Geminor, has over 15 years of experience in the field. He is noticing major changes in the material streams in Europe.

The energy crisis in Europe has created a greater need for biofuels for energy recovery in the EfW industry. As an increasing proportion of waste wood is being used for material recycling, and with the Russian and Belarusian timber markets closed, there is a growing demand for biomass fractions, said Peter Roland.

Recently, the demand for this fraction has increased significantly, largely due to a general shortage of waste wood in the market.

The demand is particularly high in Scandinavian countries like Denmark and Sweden, where there is significant capacity for energy recovery in both district heating and electricity production, Peter Roland said.

Ready to invest

Geminor is now putting more resources into the biofuel fraction in Europe. The goal is to find residual materials from forestry that can be ground or processed into chips for energy recovery.

The demand is particularly high in Scandinavian countries like Denmark and Sweden, where there is significant capacity for energy recovery in both district heating and electricity production. However, there are also opportunities for material recycling for this fraction, such as compost-based soil, said Peter Roland.

There will also be a greater focus on the upstream market for wood treatment in collaboration with the subsidiary Bøn Biobrensel, which carries out mobile grinding operations for biofuel and waste wood.

With expertise in waste management and international logistics, we can now contribute to finding new solutions for materials that were previously considered too challenging to utilize, such as sawmill bark, Peter Roland revealed.

New biomass certifications

In April 2023, Geminor received a “Chain of Custody” (CoC) certification from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). This allows the company to handle sustainable wood fractions in the European biomass market.

Peter Roland, Biomass Fraction Manager at Geminor (photo courtesy Geminor).

In addition, Geminor has now received the Swedish “Hållbarhetsbesked” certification, which is an equivalent EU-based certification guaranteeing the delivery of sustainable wood in Sweden.

Both certifications prevent the trade of materials from rainforests and are a requirement to meet the demands of the current market.

The requirement for the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive II (RED II) certificate, which the industry players must comply with, regulates how the trade is conducted and aims to ensure efficient and sustainable recycling in the market.

At present, there are differing opinions on the combustion of wood in the EU. Our intention is to make a difference by utilizing wood that would normally go to waste. This also creates good synergies with our other activities within energy recovery, Peter Roland said.

Although the off-takers are primarily the same for biofuels as for RDF, the handling and logistics require a different approach, according to Peter Roland.

This biomaterial does not have the same requirements for traceability and logistics as domestic waste does. Still, the wood must be handled correctly to guarantee the quality of the end product. Therefore, it will be important for us to secure more specialized expertise within the organization as we move forward, ended Peter Roland.

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