ERB to Sell Pellets From Brazil Biomass Site to Europe Utilities

By Stephan Nielsen – Bloomberg
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ERB Energias Renovaveis do Brasil Ltda., the Brazilian developer of biomass energy projects, will build a demonstration plant next year to turn wood into charcoal-like pellets that it will sell to European utilities.

The company is in talks to supply the biomass fuel to power generators in the U.K., the Netherlands and Germany, and may build a commercial-scale facility in 2013, Luiz Pellegrini, industrial development manager of the Sao Paulo-based company, said today in a telephone interview.

Europe is seeking to generate 20 percent of its energy from renewable sources in 2020, and converting Brazilian wood into easily transportable pellets may help the region reach it’s goal, Pellegrini said.

“Demand in Europe for biomass is very big,” he said. “Many old coal-fired thermoelectric plants are making the decision to co-fire with biomass to extend their lives, principally in England.”

The plant will use a process called torrefaction, in which high heat extracts much of the water from the wood to create a high-density fuel source. Power generators may be able to get as much as half their energy from burning torrefied wood pellets, compared with 15 percent for regular wood pellets, he said.

Pellegrini wouldn’t say how much the company plans to invest in the plant, which will be in northeast Brazil.

ERB Energias expects to begin construction in December on its first biomass power project, which will provide energy to a factory owned by Midland, Michigan-based Dow Chemical Co. (DOW) in Brazil’s northeastern state of Bahia, the company said today in a statement.

Brazil had 6.51 million hectares (16.1 million acres) of pine and eucalyptus plantations in 2010, about the size of West Virginia, according to a report by the Brazilian Association of Forest Plantation Producers.

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