Futerra Fuels building commercial-scale torrefied pellet plant in Portugal
Bioenergy start-up Futerra Torrefaçao e Tecnologia S.A (Futerra Fuels) has revealed that it has commenced construction of its first commercial-scale torrefied pellet production plant in Valongo, Portugal. The plant will have an annual production capacity of 120 000 tonnes of torrefied pellets and 55 000 tonnes of industrial wood pellets.
Founded in 2015, Futerra Fuels says it represents several years of R&D by Dutch, American and Portuguese investors with backgrounds in project finance, wind farm development and operation, energy trading and the circular economy.
According to Henk Hutting, chairman and co-founder of Futerra Fuels, torrefaction will play a critical role in the future of biomass for energy generation.
Torrefied pellets have a cleaner combustion then regular pellets and can be made from a much broader variety of biomass feedstocks like grasses and agricultural residues. With torrefaction we can create a new generation of biomass fuel that can be produced in a sustainable manner while simultaneously competing on an economically viable basis, said Henk Hutting.
The torrefied pellets will be delivered to power plants and industrial users in Europe under long-term supply contracts. Approximately 40 000 tonnes of white wood pellets have been contracted for sale to CM Biomass in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Torrefaction is a promising technology that can significantly impact the transportation costs for wood pellet supply chains. Our current focus is on white pellets but through this partnership, CM Biomass can closely monitor these new developments, said Michael Christensen, CEO of CM Biomass.
A first for Futerra Fuels and for Portugal
According to Futerra Fuels, the higher calorific value of torrefied pellets – 21 GJ/tonne or even greater – and higher bulk density results in relatively less carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions during transport and creates significant cost savings during transport and storage.
While the attractiveness of torrefied pellets is apparent for large-scale industrial and commercial users, the cleaner combustion also brings health and environmental benefits in the residential market. We are currently setting up test projects in residential boilers to validate our assumptions, said Hutting.
The plant in Valongo will be the first project of Futerra Fuels and will be the first commercial-scale torrefaction plant in Portugal. The total investment is EUR 38 million, which is financed by the founders with BPI Bank and the Portugal 2020 Program.
The successful commercialization of this new technology, designed and supplied by Netherlands-based Yilkins B.V. is a precursor to Futerra Fuels’ rollout of new production plants, initially in Europe and The Americas.