14 June 2010 – The mainly coal-fired Amer combined heat and power (CHP) station, located on the river Amer in The Netherlands since 1952 and operated by Essent, has an electricity generating capacity of 1200 MW and also supplies up to 550 MW of seasonal heating energy to local towns and glasshouses up to 25 km from the plant. But extensive testing of co-firing biomass at the plant over the last ten years means that around 20% of its power output now comes from this renewable resource.
Alongside pressed sawdust wood pellets, sourced from certified forest activities in the Baltic States and Canada and arriving at the power station by barge, the station now also incorporates a sizeable gasifier that turns locally-sourced demolition wood, via fluidized gasifier, into gases to be burnt alongside coal.
Operators at Amer have run the newest unit at the station on 50% biomass (measured by energy output) and would like to see whole station operating at 50% biomass within the next few years.
And such is the expertise built up at Amer that they see this seems very possible – the limiting factor so far seems to be potential corrosion problems within the boiler.
Roofed barges deliver wood pellets to the site – these are ‘sucked’ onto a sealed (to prevent dust) conveyor system into huge silos that feed the power plant – alongside the more familiar coal barges which arrive from Rotterdam, producing large stacks coal. Six mills turn both coal and wood pellets into a powder to be fed to the boilers.
Amer’s latest venture is to trial the production and burning of ‘bio-coal’ – a fuel made by the ‘torrefaction’ of many forms of biomass to produce a dense, coal-like solid that has nearly the same energy density of coal.
Amer intends to run the first full-scale burning trial in the world of this innovative material.