Thenergo, a Belgian developer and operator of decentralized sustainable energy projects using biomass, biogas, bio-oil and cogeneration has announced that it has commenced development of a 9MWe, 6MWth CHP bio-oil to energy plant in Merksplas (Belgium).
The project, named Greenpower, representing a total investment of €11 million will run on bio-oil extracted from the seeds of the jatropha plant (previous post). The jatropha seeds are a non-edible, high energy fruit grown on semi-arid or waste land in South East Asia.
”The Greenpower bio-oil project is a prime example of Thenergo’s multifuel approach to the production of sustainable energy. Our strategy to diversify our feedstock base,namely biogas, natural gas, bio-oil, woody biomass and secondary fuels, ensures long term procurement security, better management of fuel costs, while allowing us to be more reactive to market driven opportunities”.
-- Kurt Alen, Thenergo CEO
This is one of a few projects that I have seen using jatropha bio-oil as a feedstock. CHP plants are much more efficient than pure electricity or motor fuel projects. Because jatropha can be grown on semi-arid or waste land it can use land that is not suitable for growing food seeds This advantage is claimed to be being abused because the jatropha seeds bring in more cash than food seeds in some cases and land that formerly was used for growing food crops is already being used to grow jatropha. It seems that biofuel projects can become controversial wherever the feedstock comes from. Eventually market forces will sort out how much land is used for food and how much is used for growing biofuel feedstocks. The continued high price of oil favors more use of biofuels. The development of cellulose based biofuels will lessen this problem somewhat and the development of electrically powered vehicles that can get most of their energy from renewable energy will eventually mitigate this problem to a great degree, but not for a long time.