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Hotspot Eastern Europe: Researchers couple district heating and wood energy

District heating is a widely used system in Central and Eastern Europe. About 40 million people there profit from the advantages of this efficient method. The co-firing of wood in coal-fuelled power stations, new energy wood plantations, and decentralised wood heating plants will optimise the situation further.

Together with international partners, ttz Bremerhaven is working on replacing fossil fuels with sustainably produced energy wood in Eastern Europe. Through the introduction of Short Rotation Coppice, so-called SRC for fast-growing trees, power plant operators and farmers will have the possibility to obtain energy from reproducible and environmentally friendly raw materials.

The long-term objective is to run existing local and district heating systems in Central and Eastern Europe on biomass from wood, which would mean a cost-efficient and sustainable solution for the plant operators. The framework for this is provided by BIO-HEAT, an EU funded project.

Fuels from wood make it possible to reduce CO2 emissions dramatically, foster regional value chains, and thus create employment. In SRPs, poplars and willows, amongst others, are planted, which can be harvested after only 2 to 5 years. These are then shredded and the wood chips thus produced can be used as biofuel. One of the objectives of the BIO-HEAT project is to publicise this technology in the new accession countries of the European Union and to convince the user base. If the use of wood energy can be successfully introduced in Central and Eastern Europe, a large part of the heat generated would be fed into the existing district heating network. What is conceivable here is the co-firing of wood in coal power stations, as well as decentralised wood heating systems for feeding heat into the network.

This approach not only encourages the efficient and environmentally friendly generation of energy by means of plants run on biomass for power and heat coupling, but also the reduction of fossil fuels. BIO-HEAT aims to examine the current status of local and district heating technology in the countries of Eastern Europe, to spot any legal and economic barriers which may exist, and to foster systematically the exchange of information between farmers and power plant operators. The project is co-ordinated by BIOAZUL, a Spanish company, and is planned to end in August 2012.

ttz Bremerhaven is a provider of research services and operates in the field of application-oriented research and development. Under the umbrella of ttz Bremerhaven, an international team of experts is working in the areas of food, environment and health.

Christian Colmer
Head of Communications and Media
ttz Bremerhaven
Fischkai 1
D-27572 Bremerhaven (Germany)
Tel.: +49 (0)471 48 32 -124
Fax: +49 (0)471 48 32 - 129

Christian Colmer | idw
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