Arundo Donax Biomass to Electricity Generation Project in Dedicated Biomass Power Plants
Equilibre intends to construct a first 30 MW installed capacity dedicated Arundo Donax biomass power plant in Mauritius, a pioneer one based on Arundo Donax biomass, to export around 200 GWh of firm/base load electricity annually. The power plant would be a state-of-the-art modern facility to operate at 93 bars and 540oC (boiler configuration), the best to be in the country in terms of technical configuration, to result in electricity productivity of about 1200-1300 kWh of exportable electricity per metric ton of almost dried biomass. The total investment cost is estimated to be around USD 80 million at an electricity export cost that is competitive to traditional fossil fuel electricity production.
Arundo Donax Biomass to Electricity Generation Project in Existing Power Plants
Equilibre intends to sell baled and dried Arundo Donax biomass to existing local ‘bagasse cum coal’ and coal power plants which would use the biomass as a complementary fuel to sugarcane bagasse or substitute for imported sub-bituminous coal in Mauritius. It has been found that Arundo Donax can be co-combusted on an “as is” basis in appropriate combustion mix with coal and sugarcane bagasse (an optimum blend of 15%-20% Arundo Donax as recommended by Equilibre). A first Arundo Donax biomass sales contract of around 30,000 tons of baled and dried biomass is currently being negotiated with an existing ‘bagasse cum coal’ power plant for co-combustion with coal.
Arundo Donax Biomass to Electricity Generation Combustion Trial in Existing Power Plant
An industrial combustion trial test of Arundo Donax co-combustion with coal has already been successfully undertaken in an existing coal power plant in 2016 with an overall good electricity productivity of 870 kWh/per tonne of biomass processed (based on the operating configuration and conditions of the existing power plant – 45 bars boiler pressure and 440oC). Higher pressure boiler configuration, for instance modern biomass power plants operating at 82-93 bars (525-540oC) can potentially yield higher electricity productivity of around 1100-1300 kWh per metric ton of almost dried Arundo Donax biomass.
BENEFITS OF PRODUCING ELECTRICITY USING ARUNDO DONAX
Equilibre’s solution is for African countries to grow a portion of their energy requirements. Most countries have available land to cultivate energy crops. The advantages are:
- Most countries have adequate land availability for energy crop cultivation because Arundo Donax grows on marginal land; food crop production is not impacted thus respecting food security.
- Energy crop cultivation proves jobs and income for the poorer population segments and boosts economic growth.
- Governments benefit from fixed pricing for long periods, which facilitates easier economic budgeting, as well a savings of scarce foreign exchange since the crop is priced in local currency.
Planting Arundo also contributes to much needed reforestation (much of Africa suffers from deforestation) and supports those countries that have signed the Paris Climate Accord since using Arundo for electricity production means zero nett greenhouse gas emission Equilibre is able to build 100% biomass electricity generating plants ranging from 1 MW to 60 MW, capable of exporting 400 GWh of base-load electricity to the national grid. These plants represent state-of-the-art technology and use high pressure (93 bar) and temperature (540 degrees C), resulting is high energy conversion rates Equilibre also has access to rural micro-grid technology which means that electricity can be provided in regions where the grid does not reach. The impact of access to electricity on economic development is well documented.