French utility considers woody biomass replacement for coal
Feb. 7, 2019 - French utility EDF and the Ministry for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition recently approved a programme of work leading up to a decision on the Ecocombust project.
Between now and autumn 2019, this programme of work should help validate the technical trials, environmental impact studies and economic model for the project. By then, subject to satisfactory conclusions from a technical, economic and environmental perspective, and once discussions have been held with the government and local communities, EDF will embark on the industrialisation stage, aiming to start producing the fuel in 2022.
The Ecocombust project fits in with the July 2017 Climate Plan, the National Low-Carbon Strategy (Stratégie Nationale Bas Carbone, SNBC) and the November 2018 Multi-Year Energy Programme (Programmation Pluriannuelle de l’Energie, PPE), which foresee an end to the production of electricity using coal by 2022 and the development of biomass resources. Ecocombust is the result of work started in 2015 by EDF teams to study the development of a new kind of biomass-based fuel, originally designed to power its coal-fired plants.
The Ecocombust project involves producing an innovative, ecological fuel to be used to run facilities that produce heat or electricity currently powered by coal. The fuel will be produced on-site and will lead to the creation of a new sector to recycle wood waste that cannot currently be used and is usually buried or sent to landfill.
Within the context of securing the electricity supply for the North-West of France, and Brittany in particular, and if the RTE studies commissioned by the Government confirm there is a need for it, if applicable until 2026, some or all of the biomass produced could be used to power up to 80 per cent of current units to respond to the need to secure Western France’s electricity grid during peak hours when consumption is at its highest. In this scenario, given the high level of substitution of coal and the limited annual number of operating hours, annual CO2 emissions would be approximately 25 times lower than they are at the moment.
Jean-Bernard Lévy, EDF’s CEO and Chairman, announced: “EDF is delighted with this progress. Our teams remain fully mobilised to respond to the Government’s demands to validate Ecocombust, an innovative and ecological new kind of fuel. Approval of the Ecocombust programme of work means that EDF can pursue its mission, and fits in perfectly with the framework laid down for the multi-year energy programme.”