First project in Germany will cover 10,000 hectares
Use in biomass-fired plants with combined heat-and-power generation
RWE intends to further extend its biomass activities and in particular the use of wood as fuel in cogeneration power stations. To support this strategy, RWE Innogy Cogen GmbH, a subsidiary of RWE Innogy, signed a contract with the renowned forest tree nursery P&P, which is based in Eitelborn, Germany. The agreement forms the basis for planting up to 10,000 hectares of fuel-wood plantations in Germany over the next four years.
RWE Innogy Cogen is already operating four large biomass-fired cogeneration plants based on used wood. Obtaining fresh wood from fuel-wood plantations represents an important step towards safeguarding the fuel supply of the biomass-fired cogeneration plants planned for the future. These cogeneration plants function on the principle of combined heat-and-power generation. Due to the combined generation of electricity and steam they are considered to be particularly energy- efficient. Furthermore, wood is also a carbon-neutral fuel. This means that using the wood for energy generation does not create more CO2 than the plant has actually absorbed during its growth process.
Fritz Vahrenholt, CEO of RWE Innogy, explained: “The model which we will implement in Germany shortly is the initial basis for extending our biomass activities in other countries within Europe. We will create further fuel-wood plantations wherever it is feasible.”
The content of the agreement is that initially “parent tree nurseries” will be created for fast growing tree varieties such as poplars over an area of 300 hectares.
The goal is to achieve a 10,000 hectare sized fuel-wood plantation from these “parent tree nurseries”. The expected yield is approximately 10 tonnes of dried wood mass per hectare and year. It will exclusively be used to generate carbon-neutral heat and electricity through the combined heat-and-power generation process in biomass cogeneration plants.
Rolf Neugebauer, Managing Director of P&P, commented: “Being one of the leading tree nurseries in Germany and Europe, we realised the importance of fuel-wood plantations at an early stage and have built up the necessary theoretical and practical expertise together with universities and research institutes. We are pleased to have gained RWE as a strong and reliable partner.”
Stephan Lohr, Managing Director of RWE Innogy Cogen GmbH, explained: “Beginning the expansion of our own climate-friendly carbon-neutral energy resources is an important starting point for us in order to be able to offer our customers innovative and economically efficient energy supply schemes.”
At present, RWE Innogy Cogen predominantly operates in Germany. As part of an ambitious growth strategy, the company plans to extend operations throughout the EU and beyond.