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France continues biomass capacity boost

July 17, 2012, Perpignan, FR — France is continuing to expand its biomass generation power as companies bring on line new units.


July 17, 2012
By Argus Media

But potential concerns about wood procurement have prompted one combined heat and power (CHP) facility to trim anticipated feedstock supply.

French utility GDF Suez has started up a 9MW CHP plant at the site of a Saipol biodiesel and vegetable oil refining facility in Grand Couronne, west of Le Havre. The plant will supply the refining facility with electricity and heat, consuming 150,000 t/yr of wood from surrounding forests, with the unit costing €57.5mn ($70.7mn).

GDF Suez's main competitor in French biomass power, energy services company Dalkia, has had its plans approved for another biomass-fuelled CHP facility in the city of Rennes in Brittany. The 37MW CHP unit will have electricity generation of 10.4MW, cost €45mn and will service the municipal heating network for the southern part of the city. It will provide 65 GWh/yr of electricity and 121 GWh/yr of heating. The plant is expected to start up in the second half of 2013, with construction due to end in summer of the same year.

But the firm had to alter plans to procure 140,000 t/yr of feedstock from local forest cover after the municipality accepted some public concerns over land use. Dalkia said its feedstock supply will be lowered to 117,000 t/yr from 140,000 t/yr. Only 70,000 t/yr will come from surrounding forest, with wood waste and trimmings making up the rest.

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Analysts at energy management agency Ademe in July last year questioned France's ability to supply enough biomass to meet planned capacity increases. France would need 30mn t/yr of wood feedstock by 2020, up from around 3.5mn t this year, to fuel 3GW of planned capacity, necessitating wood imports. In its adjudication the Rennes municipality said Dalkia must follow its procurement guidelines or face “significant financial penalties putting at risk the economic viability of the project and credibility of the company”.

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