Rotterdam: the European hub for biomass


he Port of Rotterdam wants to secure new, clean sources of energy and biomass is one of

the leading examples of how this can be achieved. An important way of generating clean electricity is the co-firing of biomass (wood pellets) in coal-fired power plants. Demand for this type of biomass will be increasing in the coming decades.

It is mainly shipped from the United States, Canada and the Baltic States. For the future, sup- plies from other regions such as Brazil and Russia are also expected. To handle these trade volumes, there will be a limited number of hubs for biomass in Europe. Rotterdam is well-positioned to be one of these, partly because some biomass is already being processed in the port and industrial complex

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to generate energy or for refining. The Port of Rotterdam aims to handle 8-10 million tonnes of biomass in 2020. It is also looking at 20-30% biomass co-firing in the power plants on the Maasvlakte. The power plants on the Maasv- lakte will generate a large steady supply of biomass (wood pellets) for Rotterdam. The combination of this ‘captive’ cargo with distribu- tion of biomass to power plants both in the vicinity of Rotterdam, as well as in the United Kingdom, Belgium and Scandinavia creates economies of scale.

Power house

The industrial cluster in the port of Rotterdam consists of more than 45 chemical companies, five oil refineries and three coal-fired power plants. This makes the port of Rotterdam one of the major oil,

chemical and energy ports in the world and the largest industrial cluster in Europe. This no longer concerns just fossil fuels, such as coal and oil. Due to the increas- ing scarcity of fossil fuels and the need to reduce CO2 emissions, the energy and fuel mix in Europe is changing radically. A transition to sustainable energy is therefore be- coming increasingly important. The Port of Rotterdam Authority con- siders alternative sources of energy important in its endeavour to oper- ate the port area as sustainably as possible. Its ambition, therefore, is to become the sustainable power house of North-West Europe and a global hub for energy products and feedstock.

The application of biomass is relevant for the port of Rotterdam in both the short and long term. This biomass is used primarily as

feedstock for co-firing in a number of coal-fired power plants in the Netherlands. In a few years (from 2018), the new coal-fired power plants on the Maasvlakte will start to co-fire biomass. In addition, sev- eral coal-fired power plants in the United Kingdom have been and will be converted to biomassplants. In the long term, biomass is also intended as a feedstock for the chemical and industrial cluster and the production of biofuels. Incentives

The European Union has for- mulated a number of energy and climate objectives. For example, 20% of energy production in Eu- rope must come from sustainable sources by 2020.

In the Netherlands, government policy is to generate 16% of the country’s energy needs from re- newable sources, such as wind or

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