Bio Energy Netherlands
Bio Energy Netherlands will convert sustainable biomass into bio-gas (syngas). Initially, it will be used to generate green heat and green electricity. At a later stage, hydrogen and CO₂ will also be produced. These are the basic chemicals used in green chemistry and for the creation of bio-fuels.
Bio Energy Netherlands wants to generate clean energy from renewable sources and through this process take the step towards the production of green molecules, to be used as a resource in chemistry. We aim to do this by making optimal use of local sustainable residual biomass flows.
The biggest challenge of the energy transition is finding sustainable alternatives for fossil fuels, mainly for the generation of green heat and green electricity. For Bio Energy Netherlands, this is only the first step. The ultimate goal is to find green molecules that can also replace fossil resources in chemistry. Sustainable biomass is a renewable source of energy that may replace fossil resources on all fronts.
Using modular plants, Bio Energy Netherlands gasifies biomass to generate green heat and electricity. Later, Bio Energy Netherlands will also produce biogas, hydrogen and CO₂ for the chemical sector. Because of the modular structure, Bio Energy Netherlands can respond flexibly to the local demands for its end products.
- Green heat for district heating and/or industrial applications
- Green electricity
- Green hydrogen
- Green CO₂
We cooperate with public authorities and industrial clients, realising the entire project from planning and financing to construction and operation.
Founders Raoul Witteveen and Robert-Jan van Ogtrop believe that sustainability requires action. Sustainability should be the standard and the foundation of any healthy – profitable – business. Because of this, they, together with a team of likeminded partners, invest in several initiatives that are to accelerate the energy transition. Using the European license for American gasification technology they invest in the Netherlands, supporting their partners with the planning, financing, construction and operation of the plant.
“We know that our partners don’t want to produce steam or electricity themselves, yet often do need it in their production process. This is why we help them with the plants, so they may focus on their core business, like we focus on ours.”Raoul Witteveen
Bio Energy Netherlands contributes to the energy transition by providing an alternative for energy from fossil fuels. In addition, Bio Energy Netherlands also aims to support another transition, the transition to a circular economy. In a circular economy resources and products are reused, as opposed to an economy that continuously produces waste, causing an ongoing demand for new resources.
Besides recycling, in order to reduce the amount of biomass waste to a minimum, an optimal usage of all biomass is necessary. This can be achieved by cascading: a tiered approach where at each step the application with the highest added value is chosen. For this reason, the plants of Bio Energy Netherlands don’t use any biomass that was produced exclusively for generating energy. Biomass residuals that are no longer suitable for any other application are used instead. For its wood gasification plant Bio Energy Netherlands utilises non-recyclable wood, which is left over from forestry or demolition. The residual product of the gasification, biochar, can be returned to nature to enrich the soil and absorb CO₂.
By gasifying the wood instead of combusting it, not only are many harmful emissions avoided (much less nitrogen and particulates, amongst others, are emitted), but extra resources may be extracted during the process. As it happens, biomass is not only suitable for replacing fossil fuels in the energy sector, it can also replace them in other sectors and industries. For example, many molecules that are used in chemistry may also be extracted from biomass. For this reason, Bio Energy Netherlands strives to extract hydrogen and CO₂ from biomass in addition to supplying heat and electricity. This way fossil fuels are no longer required in order to gain these resources, and Bio Energy Netherlands simultaneously contributes to the transitions to renewable energy and a circular economy, as well as a transition to a biobased economy.
The gasification plants of Bio Energy Netherlands use biomass, mainly in the form of residual wood. ‘Biomass’ (in this context) means all organic and biologically degradable materials that may be used as resources or fuel. The use of biomass is only sustainable under the right conditions. This is why the gasifiers of Bio Energy Netherlands exclusively use residual flows, making sure that the biomass was never harvested for the production of energy.
When untreated residual wood, which can no longer be reused in any other meaningful way, is left to rot, harmful substances are released during its decomposition. This includes methane, a very potent greenhouse gas. Often the material is burned, releasing the CO₂ that was stored in the wood back into the atmosphere. During the gasification of the wood the harmful emissions are minimal. In fact, gasifying the wood at the Bio Energy Netherlands plants, instead of combusting it, leads to net negative CO₂ emissions, because not gasifying this wood would cause more CO₂ emissions.
The gas that is produced by Bio Energy Netherlands can be used to generate heat and electricity. Here too, emissions of greenhouse gasses are reduced by replacing heat and electricity from fossil fuels. Because windmills and solar panels are mainly utilised for generating electricity, the gasified biomass of Bio Energy Netherlands is especially useful for improving the sustainability of heat production. As a matter of fact, heat production is responsible for the largest amount of energy usage in the Netherlands. Currently this heat is mostly produced using natural gas. A lot of greenhouse gas emissions reduction can be achieved by improving the sustainability of the Dutch heat production.
In order to make the whole process as sustainable as possible it is necessary to look beyond the gasifiers alone. This is because energy is also used during the gathering and delivery of the biomass. For this reason, the plants of Bio Energy Netherlands exclusively make use of regional biomass, limiting the transportation distances to a minimum.
The first wood gasifier of Bio Energy Netherlands is located in the port of Amsterdam, and will be put into use at the end of 2018. This commercial wood gasification plant is the first of its kind in the Netherlands and makes use of the technology developed by the American company Zero-Point Clean Tech. The choice for gasification is deliberate, as this results in 60-70% less nitrogen and particulates emissions compared to combustion. The gas produced with biomass is used to generate heat and electricity. Initially, the wood gasifier will deliver 10MW, of which 80% is destined for heat and 20% for electricity. The intention is to further expand this capacity in the future, in addition to extracting hydrogen and CO₂ from the gas.
In its initial setup, the wood gasification plant has two gasification reactors of the Fixed Bed Down Draft Gasifier type. The advantage of this type of reactors is that barely any tar ends up in the produced gas, which is a problem for many other types of gasification reactors. The wood that is gasified is supplied from the region and is solely comprised of non-recyclable wood (such as prunings originating from forestry) with no other remaining useful application. Before the wood enters the reactor it is first dried and shredded. Then, the wood chips are put into the reactor at the top where they are heated under low-oxygen conditions. The resulting gas is called ‘syngas’ (synthetic gas), which is mainly comprised of carbon monoxide and hydrogen. The syngas exits the gasification reactor at the bottom, leaving the other residues behind. These residues, also known as ‘active coal’, can be used as biochar to enrich the soil. Before the syngas can be used it is first purified with a waterscrubber and a baghouse, which filter most residues and particulates from the gas.
Syngas has many different applications. At the wood gasification plant it is initially used to generate heat and electricity. A Jenbacher gasmotor, running on syngas, generates the electricity. The heat that is produced during the gasification process and the generation of electricity is delivered to the nearby municipal Afval Energiebedrijf (Waste Energy company) of Amsterdam, which is connected to the heat network of the city. From 2019 onwards Bio Energy Netherlands’ wood gasification plant will also extract hydrogen and CO₂ from the syngas, which can be used for the production of fuels or in chemical products. The syngas will also be desulphurised during this extraction.
The energy transition is initiated for a better future. Such a profound change brings challenges, which Bio Energy Netherlands meets in multiple areas. For example, the generation of electricity using wind and sunlight is weather-dependent. Reserve capacity is necessary for times when both are scarce. The biomass gasification plants of Bio Energy Netherlands are capable of generating this non weather-dependent electricity whenever required.
Additionally, the port of Amsterdam is an important transhipment port for coal. When the energy transition results in a decreased demand for coal, parts of the port will need to be revised. Bio Energy Netherlands’ first gasification plant can be part of a solution, for when it starts its production of molecules for the chemical industry, the port of Amsterdam can become an interesting location for chemical business to cluster.
Meanwhile, the gas extraction in Groningen is gradually being stopped. Heat production forms the majority of the Dutch energy demands, with natural gas being its main fuel. Bio Energy Netherlands plants can deliver sustainable heat to heat networks, partially compensating for the reduced supply of natural gas from Groningen.