Attracting some 180 participants, the 8th edition of European Biomass to Power (EBP) was held last week in Denmark’s second largest city, Aarhus – the 2017 European Capital of Culture. As it happens it was an extraordinary well-timed event in terms of hot off the press – four biomass facilities were on the conference programme schedule, two of which were only just recently officially opened.
The timing of these site visits made this year’s edition of European Biomass to Power (EBP) superficially misleading – whilst Denmark is in Europe and a member of the European Union, most of the speakers focused on Denmark without providing a wider European Biomass to Power perspective. Notable exceptions were the presentations from technology suppliers to the various Danish case study projects such as boilers, material handling and backend clean-up as well as presentations from the International Energy Association (IEA) and the World Bioenergy Association (WBA).
This is though, an entirely superficial criticism – EBP is, in fact, an ambulating conference. Thus the focus quite rightly ought to be on the European host city and country rather than Europe as a whole and in a Nordic-Baltic context, it is not difficult to find biomass-to-energy applications. This year’s edition of EBP excelled in this respect.
First up on the site list was the “DONG Energy” (now Ørsted) pre-conference tour day to two of its coal-to-biomass conversions in southeast Jutland; its Studstrup pellet-fired power station that was commissioned October 2016 and to its Skærbæk woodchip-fired power station that was regally inaugurated a fortnight or so prior the event.
As impressive as the Ørsted plants are, AffaldVarme Arhus’s new straw and woodchip fired combined heat and power (CHP) unit at its Lisbjerg waste-to-energy complex pulled the longest straw in terms of being the latest – it was officially inaugurated the day before the conference albeit not by any HRH.
Finally, the fourth plant site visit option was to Verdo’s coal to woodchip retrofit CHP and its pellet bagging facility in Randers, a city about 40 km from Aarhus. The four installations are all different examples of Danish biomass to power projects in terms of location, type of company, scale, technologies deployed, types of biomass fuel(s) used and business case – three plants use primarily imported biomass and are waterfront locations whereas one uses locally sourced fuel all delivered by truck.
All in all, this year edition’s of EBP really put Denmark and Aarhus with the surrounding hinterlands in a “state of green” focus and the organisers appropriately make full use of the fortunate good timing. The quality of the presenters may have varied considerably during the event but the content and context were almost entirely, and refreshingly, liberated from the concurrent going’s on in Brussels or Bonn – the session Q and A’s and the intensive ad hoc networking amongst participants suggest a well-received event.
Next year’s edition is rumoured to be held in a neighbouring Nordic country, though the more precise when and where has yet to be confirmed. Irrespective which Nordic country, EBP has set a new level of expectations.