Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 

Accelerated Electrification” Misses the Mark on Process Heat

Azwood Energy welcomes the Interim Climate Change Committee’s “Accelerated Electrification” report, which investigated the potential of electricity in greenhouse gas reduction. Azwood Energy agrees with the Committee’s view: “The challenge is clear – it is not so much about reducing emissions from the generation of electricity in a narrow sense, but it is about using low or zero-emissions energy to fuel the economy.”[1]

Whilst we find its investigation into electrifying our vehicle fleet laudable, we question whether the Committee’s reliance on the wholesale electrification of process heat is an outcome that truly promotes carbon neutrality and greenhouse gas emission reduction.

Azwood Energy is of the view that the increased utilization of woody biomass, a renewable, carbon neutral energy source, in the transition from fossil fuel use in process heat makes sense, both economically and environmentally.

Energy expert, Dr Martin Atkins,[2] has noted that, “Biomass will play a vital role in providing process heat, particularly in producing process steam for medium to high process temperature demands. Biomass will be the lowest cost fuel switching option by a large margin when compared to electricity.”[3] He notes that complete electrification of process heat demand is not economically feasible.

Process heat needs are highly-situationally dependent and site-specific. However, from an operational and Capex perspective, high temperature hot water and steam requirements are best met using biomass as a fuel source in place of coal or diesel.

It seems big players in industry agree. A video was released for the Climate Leaders Coalition showcasing Fonterra Brightwater’s switch to co-firing with biomass.[4] Speaking, in May, at the New Zealand Minerals Forum, Tony Oosten, Fonterra’s Energy Manager, noted that capital outlay and fuel costs for new wood versus coal boilers are now the same, and the viability of wood fuel has been proven in their Brightwater pilot.[5]

He explained Fonterra’s cheese plants use lower temperatures and can be run on electric technologies. Oosten says milk-drying plants prove more complex, (given their mixed high-heat requirements), but indicated new plants will be designed to meet their low heat energy requirements with electricity, allowing biomass-fueled boilers to be used for higher temperature requirements. Oosten says electrode boilers may be used for peak loads as they are more responsive than wood boilers, but they are twice as expensive to run as current systems.

Oosten raised issues of wood fuel supply, however, stating, based on the local available supply in each region, Fonterra could access 15 megawatts of wood into each of its 32 manufacturing sites. Given Fonterra has now put a stop to installing any new coal boilers or increasing capacity to burn coal,[6] their energy requirements, 40% of which is currently met by coal, are set to supercharge demand for wood fuel.

More recently, French multinational food-products corporation Danone announced they would invest $40 million to convert their Balclutha milk drying plant to 100% biomass, cutting CO2 emissions by 96% or 20,000 tones per year.[7]

Brook Brewerton, General Manager of Azwood Energy, welcomes this, stating that current constraint in demand is at the heart of stated perceptions of constrained supply. He says there is ample forestry residue left unutilized on hillsides and the commercially unsubstantiated fixation on industrial electrification is hampering the switch to biomass fuel and confusing the low-emission messaging.

Azwood Energy sees key areas of this report’s findings as an exacerbation of the problem. The ICCC should encourage thermal heat plant users to firstly reduce energy demand, secondly reduce the low-temperature heat demand on boilers and then encourage the feasibility of fuel switching to biomass for high temperature water and steam.

Biomass for high temperature water and steam is the most cost-effective option, at about one quarter of the cost to produce steam, when compared with electricity, and does not require huge investment in electrical networks and infrastructure.

Until increased demand ramps up the supply chain logistics, however, the perception of scarcity will continue. Azwood Energy are poised to scale their operations at viable sites across New Zealand and have been commercially supplying biomass to large heat plant systems for almost 20 years.

Scion has reported that there is sufficient biomass in New Zealand to replace in the order of 15PJ of coal consumption with its associated GHG emissions reductions.[8] The Bioenergy Association states there is potentially enough biomass available from plantation forestry to replace 60% of coal used in existing heat plant over the next 30 years. It notes that the biomass fuel market is under-developed because the current demand for wood fuel is low, but that “there are enough suppliers with commercial and technical capability to expand supply if demand for wood fuel increases consistently and in an orderly manner”. [9]

Brewerton notes that the recoverability of wood energy in the scenarios underpinning the Scion and Bioenergy Association data is conservative, and not based on 17 years of residue recovery and methodology improvement. “There is far more out there if the market is willing to pay for it. Recoverability modelling is on the low side, but it is a good place to start.”

Azwood Energy eagerly awaits the PHiNZ report due to be released later this year by MBIE, which addresses process heat directly. It is hoped the regulatory and policy settings changes it advocates will provide the priority for wood fuel it deserves, as a proven, economically viable local energy source with both up and downstream environmental benefits.

[1] “Accelerated electrification” at p 13. https://www.iccc.mfe.govt.nz/assets/PDF_Library/daed426432/FINAL-ICCC-Electricity-report.pdf

2 Dr Martin Atkins, Senior Research Fellow with Waikato University’s Energy Research Group, has advised some of New Zealand’s most iconic companies on their path towards lower emissions, from dairy giant, Fonterra, to pulp and paper processor, Oji.

3 Dr Martin Atkins submission to the Productivity Commission’s Low-emissions economy, https://productivity.govt.nz/sites/default/files/sub-low-emissions-361-martin-atkins.pdf

4 CLC story - Fonterra Brightwater Biomass Burner https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DgVc18nE-AA

5 http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/BU1905/S00909/plan-needed-for-competing-wood-demands-fonterra.htm

6 https://www.fonterra.com/nz/en/our-stories/media/no-new-coal-boilers-for-fonterra.html

7 https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/farming/114603715/danone-to-cut-carbon-emissions-at-balclutha-plant-to-zero

8 Scion submission to the Productivity Commission’s Low-emissions economy, https://productivity.govt.nz/sites/default/files/sub-low-emissions-67-scion-446Kb.pdf

9 https://www.bioenergy.org.nz/documents/resource/Information-Sheets/IS32-GHG-reduction-using-wood-energy.pdf

--- ends ---

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Ellen Rykers on The Dig: Community Conservation – The Solution To The Biodiversity Crisis?

There are backyard trapping networks doing their bit for Predator Free 2050, farmers planting native trees along their waterways, and iwi protecting whenua rāhui. There are 62 biodiversity sanctuaries across 56,000 hectares, with around two-thirds of them community-led. There are citizen scientists counting birds in their backyards and landowners conserving habitat in 3,500 Queen Elizabeth II National Trust covenants.

It’s increasingly clear that a government agency alone cannot combat the biodiversity crisis successfully. These grass-roots initiatives are a growing resource in the conservation toolbox. More>>

Closing This Weekend! Have Your Say On The Issues For NZ's New Biodiversity Strategy

Scoop and PEP invite you to help decide how we should protect and restore our biodiversity over the next 50 years using Scoop’s online engagement platform, HiveMind. HAVE YOUR SAY HERE>>

Biodiversity HiveMind Preliminary Progress Report
Open data report summarising preliminary findings of the Biodiversity HiveMind. Read Progress Report Here>>

 

PM In Japan: Jacinda Ardern’s Remarks Following Abe Summit

Today we discussed a wide range of topics. Broadly the themes were: a deeper, high-value trade and investment relationship, greater cooperation in the Pacific; and strengthening our security partnership. More>>

ALSO:

Replacing All But Chair: Twyford Appoints Five NZTA Board Members

Transport Minister Phil Twyford today announced the appointment of five new members to the NZ Transport Agency Board... There remain two vacancies on the NZTA Board which will be filled in due course. More>>

ALSO:

Climate Change: Adaptation And Risk Assessment Framework Released

“We are already experiencing the effects of a changing climate such as coastal inundation and increasingly frequent and severe droughts, floods, fires and storms. This framework is an acknowledgement that we must start adapting”, James Shaw said today. More>>

ALSO:

Ihumātao: Mana Whenua Reach Decision On Land

Māori King Tūheitia says mana whenua have finally reached consensus over what to do with Ihumātao - they want it back. More>>

ALSO:

PM To Japan, New York: Ardern To Meet Trump During UN Trip

“I’m looking forward to discussing a wide range of international and regional issues with President Trump, including our cooperation in the Pacific and the trade relationship between our countries." More>>

PM's Post-Cab: "A Way Forward"

At Monday's post-cabinet press conference, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a number of actions in response to the Labour Party's mishandling of sexual assault complaints. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Allegations Of Left Wing Media Bias

“Left wing bias” accusations date back at least to the mid 1990s... The charge of left wing bias was ridiculous then, and is ridiculous now. More>>

Next Wave Of Reforms: Gun Registration And Licensing Changes Announced

“The Bill includes a register to track firearms and new offences and penalties that can be applied extraterritorially for illegal manufacture, trafficking, and for falsifying, removing, or altering markings – which are a new requirement under the Firearms Protocol.” More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

InfoPages News Channels