Finland’s new bioeconomy strategy, which will be completed in summer 2021, will take a stronger position on circular economy solutions and the utilization of renewable natural resources. The strategy has been made public, with the aim of securing the sustainable use of renewable resources as part of the EU’s climate goals. A significant part of greenhouse gas emissions is generated in energy production. In Finland, almost half of our energy comes from fossil fuels that produce greenhouse gas emissions, such as peat and coal.
As part of the preparation of the bioeconomy strategy, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and the Ministry of Employment organized several regional bioeconomy forums last autumn as webinars, which we also followed at Prometec. It was eye-opening to see the bioeconomy know-how and operators from different provinces.
Whatever the carbon neutrality targets to be achieved in the national strategy that are to be achieved by 2035, our Q-Robot solution will help facilitate the transition of power plants from the burning of coal and peat to burning biomass.
When peat is replaced by biomass in Finland, it will also affect truck traffic. One peat truck contains an average of 130 megawatts of energy, but when replaced by a biomass truck of the same size, it does contain 100 megawatts of energy. As a result of moving into biomass the truck transportation is increasing.
Annual savings of one million euros for the power plant
Peat and coal are homogeneous materials, i.e. the transition to biomass means burning more inhomogeneous material. In this case, the key factor is how the quality can be determined reliably and how it is taken into account in with combustion in the boiler. For example, in a forest residue chip load, the humidity can vary between 30-60%. In this case, it is really important that the sample is taken systematically correctly and reliably so that the sample taken corresponds as closely as possible to the material in the load.
The importance of determining the quality of biomass has been studied both by us and by VTT, among others. One of the results of the studies was discovered a large finding of a 2 % average error of moisture content result determined at the biomass quality definition. The error is due to manual sampling when the biomass truck driver takes a sample of his load, for example with a shovel, at a point in the load where the sample is most easily available. The biggest problem has been the effect of snow and ice on wintertime measurement results. The humidity error imposes a large additional cost on the power plant – on an annual basis, it can mean 5 % of the fuel purchase price.
The fuel consumption of a large power plant can be a thousand gigawatts per year. With an energy balance error of 5% and a megawatt price of biofuel in the order of EUR 20, the annual cost will rise to EUR 1 million. For example,this of course, affects the profitability of biomass combustion in relation to coal.
Subheading: Quality information helps to minimize CO2 emissions
Q-Robot’s reliable biomass receiving inspection provides real-time information on load quality. Thus, the right price is paid for biomass and variations in fuel quality are considered in the formation of the fuel mixture for the power plant boiler. Biomass may be a by-product of harvesting, forest maintenance work and the forest industry, for example. Quality information enables the minimization of CO2 emissions when the right quality material is brought to the plant in a timely manner and the combustion process can be optimized.
According to the energy sector low carbon roadmap , fossil fuels are being phased out in transport, services, base machines, industry, heating and agriculture.
At present, the EU Commission sees Finland as an example country for the bioeconomy in the EU region. The national bioeconomy strategy has a major role to play in maintaining this pioneering role. Prometec’s quality measurement solution will support the implementation of the bioeconomy strategy in various industries – in addition to the heat and power plants used as an example, in the pulp, mining and food industries.
Fact: How can Q-Robot’s real-time quality information be used?
- In fuel quality control
- In fuel logistics control
- In forming of the optimal biomass mix.
- In the optimization of the combustion process
- In the calculation of inventory balances
- In procurement planning
Read more about Prometec’s solutions