Flexible Bioenergy and System Integration: Best Practices

May 2024

IEA Bioenergy Task 44 (Flexible bioenergy and system integration) publishes good practice examples on flexible bioenergy to showcase the multiple benefits and services that flexible bioenergy can provide. The first cases are available here: https://task44.ieabioenergy.com/best-practices/ The different Best Practices can also be viewed through an interactive map.

e-gas plant, Werlte, Germany

The Werlte e-gas plant is the world’s first industrially operated plant for catalytic methanation with CO2 from biogas and renewable hydrogen. The plant preferably obtains electricity for electrolysis to hydrogen when there is an oversupply of electricity due to high feed-in quantities of wind or photovoltaic power. The final product is grid-ready synthetic natural gas (SNG) in a compressed (CNG) or liquefied (LNG) state. The plant can serve as a pilot for other plants in the transition of the fuel market towards renewable, decarbonised fuels.

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Biomass hybrid dryer, Jyväskylä, Finland

VTT’s pilot hybrid dryer combines solar collectors and a heat pump in an efficient and flexible way to dry biomass. Various drying modes, such as solar alone, pump alone or solar and pump together, can be applied, depending on the availability of solar irradiation and electricity prices. The control system allows flexibility between different operating modes.

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Commercial-scale eFuel facility, Örnsköldsvik, Sweden

Övik Energi will partner with Liquid Wind to provide CO2 for the first commercial-scale eFuel facility. Biogenic CO2 emissions from the biomass CHP facility will be captured and combined with renewable hydrogen to produce e-methanol. The fuel will be used by the marine industry to enable carbon neutral shipping.

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Lignocellulosic bioethanol pilot plant, Muswellbrook, Australia

Around 70% of plant fibre is comprised of structural “lignocellulosic” sugars. Micro-organisms can convert these sugars to biofuels, platform chemicals and pharmaceuticals. In a scalable pilot plant project, Ethanol Technologies Pty Limited (Ethtec) is developing and commercialising a new process for the production of ethanol from the structural sugars component of lignocellulosic materials. Ethtec is aiming for flexible use of the sugars for production of ethanol, other liquid biofuels, food additives, bioplastics precursors and other biochemicals. Biofuels are flexibly used for transport, agriculture, forestry, mining and electricity generation. Lignin is used for electricity generation and production of biochemicals.

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Power-to-gas integrated with waste-to-energy, Vantaa, Finland

Vantaa Energy Ltd has initiated planning of a Power-to-Gas (PtG) facility in its Waste-to-Energy (WtE) plant. The PtG plant will produce synthetic natural gas (SNG) from green hydrogen and unavoidable carbon dioxide, captured from the WtE process. The PtG facility will be connected to Vantaa’s extensive district heating system. In addition to utilization for heating during peak loads, SNG will be utilized as transportation fuel. The concept is designed to fit on foreseen energy markets where supply from variable renewable energy sources decreases electricity prices but increases volatility, and utilization of fossil fuels to cover peak load periods of local district heating system is not allowed anymore, or is very expensive due to tightening climate actions.

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Fuel-flexible gas turbines, Finspång, Sweden

Siemens Energy is developing a pioneer technology, turbines that can be fueled with natural gas, biogas and hydrogen, in the city of Finspång. The main characteristics of these turbines are high efficiency and low environmental impact as well as low emissions. The integration of hydrogen fueled gas turbines in future energy systems is demonstrated in the Zero Emission Hydrogen Turbine Center (ZEHTC).

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Wood-based CHP with biochar production for negative emissions, Frauenfeld, Switzerland

Otherwise unused wood from forest and landscape management is converted in a pyrolysis type thermochemical process at 850 °C to a gaseous fuel and biochar. While the wood gas is converted in four gas engines to produce renewable electricity for around 8,000 households and heat that is used by a sugar factory and the regional district heating network, biochar is also discharged from the process. Part of the carbon stored in the wood is permanently removed from the atmosphere in the form of biochar. The biochar is used in agriculture to improve the soil, as a feed additive or as active carbon for water cleaning.

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Renewable hydrogen from ethanol, São Paulo, Brazil

The University of São Paulo (USP), Hytron, Shell Brazil, Raízen, and the SENAI Innovation Institute for Biosynthetics and Fibers (CETIQT) have put together a pioneering initiative to produce renewable hydrogen from ethanol and signed a cooperation agreement for the development of two production plants in the city of São Paulo in Brazil. The agreement includes a hydrogen refuelling station (HRS) for a university bus. Hydrogen production through ethanol steam reforming enables local production of hydrogen close to consumption from ethanol that is easy to transport.

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Smart solar and bioenergy village, Mengsberg, Germany

The small rural village of Mengsberg has opted for a state-of-the-art hybrid heating solution consisting of an open space solar thermal field (with buffer storage), a wood chip boiler, and an on-demand and redundant biopropane boiler for fully renewable heat supply. Mengsberg’s concept is based on the variant of a three-stage heat generation system with redundancy, so that a reliable heat supply to all connected buildings is guaranteed 365 days a year.

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Pellet production linked to a CHP plant for district heating, Falun, Sweden

The city of Falun has an extensive district heating and cooling system and most of the energy is generated at a combined heat and power (CHP) plant, which predominantly uses woodchips as fuel. Falun works closely with the nearby town of Borlänge, and the two towns are linked by a 20 km hot water pipeline that connects the two heating networks and enables cost-effective utilisation of heat and fuel throughout the seasons. The base load of heat production for the two cities is a combined heat and power plant in Borlänge that uses municipal waste as fuel and provides year-round energy.

The combined heat and power plant in Falun is linked to a wood pellet plant. This allows for longer running times and higher power production as the surplus heat can be used for the dryer in the pellet plant. The pellet plant is mainly running between spring and autumn when the heat load is lower than during the winter.

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