Biomass is the world’s oldest energy. It corresponds to the use of biological material to produce energy as heat or electricity. As we saw in the post Uses of biomass as renewable energy, biomass has different uses and ways of transformation, according to the material used as fuel.
Due to the use of natural resources as fuel for biomass plants (chips, pellets, briquettes, leaves…) it is a a very cost-effective renewable energy, so its use is common in developing countries, but… where are the world’s biggest biomass plants?
Among the countries that make greater use of biomass include countries such as United Kingdom and the Nordic countries of Europe, such as Poland and Finland, being this last one which more often appears in the top 5 of biomass plants. Finland has 3 of 5 of the world’s largest biomass plants. What might this be?
Since 2008 the price of solar panels in Finland has plummeted, they have become cheaper by 80% and its efficiency has been increasing. The new solar panels will operate on rainy and dark days, and the efficiency of the solar panels increases at low temperature and in clean and dust-free environments.
Another reason why Finland leads the ranking of the world’s five largest biomass plants is because the country was until a few years ago energetically dependent on other countries. Since 2010, Finland’s energy self-sufficiency has been sought, focusing on renewable energies. By the year 2050 it is foreseen that the energy produced in the country is 100% of renewable origin.
As we have seen before, other countries accompany Finland in the ranking of the world’s largest biomass plants, such as the United Kingdom and Poland. Let’s see how they are ranked:
1- IRONBRIDGE (UNITED KINGDOM)
It is the largest pure biomass plant in the world. It is located in SevernGorge, UK, and has a capacity of 740 MW. The 1,000 MW facilities of a former coal-fired power plant were converted in 2013 for biomass power generation. The fuel used in this biomass plant is wood pellets.
2- ALHOLMENSKRAFT (FINLAND)
This 265 MW plant is located at the UPM-Kymmene paper mill facility in Alholmen, Jakobstad, Finland. It has been in operation since the beginning of 2002. It also supplies 100 MW of heat to the paper mill and 60 MW of district heating for the citizens of Jakobstad. The plant employs a circulating fluidized bed boiler.
3- TOPPILA (FINLAND)
This biomass power plant is located in the Toppila district of Oulu, Finland. It is one of the largest plants in the world that uses peat as a fuel and has a capacity of 210 MW of electrical energy and 340 MW of thermal power. It has two units of 75 MWe and 145 MWe.
4- POLANIEC (POLAND)
It has an installed capacity of 205 MW. It is located in Staszów and is the fourth largest biomass plant in the world. It entered commercial operation in November 2012 and mainly uses agricultural by-products and wood residues for its operation. The facilities generate enough electricity to meet the needs of 600,000 households, reducing 1.2 million tons of CO2 emissions per year.
5- KYMIJARVI (FINLAND)
It has 160 MW and is located in the city of Lathi, about 100 km north of Helsinki. They are gasification based installations that use recovered solid fuels such as plastic, paper, cardboard and wood. This biomass plant started its commercial operation in 2012, integrating a gasifier that converts the fuel derived from waste into combustible gas. It includes a natural circulation steam boiler, a Siemens SST 800 Tandem turbine and a Siemens Gen5-100A-2P generator. It generates 300 GWh of electricity and 600 GWh of district heating. It transmits electricity to the national grid using a 110 kV connection at the Kymijärvi substation.