7 June 2002

Danes all set for green energy

By Andrew Blake

SOGGY straw seems to be doing little to dampen enthusiasm for green power plants in Denmark, where the move to more environmentally-friendly energy production continues apace.

The latest in a series of commercial straw-fired power stations is a plant designed to burn 200,000t of straw a year near Copenhagen.

Farmers provide the straw on five-year contracts receiving a price of roughly £40/t. In return they also get the ash for use as a mainly potash fertiliser.

So-called "green" energy which does not add to global warming, for example from wind power and straw burning, accounts for 20-25% of the countys needs, estimates Daniscos Michael Andersen.

In Zealand and Lolland in the south-east of the country EnergiE2 runs 17 straw burning plants, the most recent supplying electricity and heating for two nearby towns, Maribo and Saskobing with a combined population of 14,000.

In Jutland another company, Elsam, has a similar chain of power stations.

Surplus electricity, which receives a higher than normal price because of its carbon dioxide neutral origin, is exported to Sweden and Germany.

Completed in 2000 the £30m combined heat and power unit near Saskobing burns 40,000t of straw a year, generating 9MW of electricity and producing 20 megajoules of heat.

Last years wet harvest has been the main problem so far, explains site engineer Jorgen Kokhauge.

Designed to accept mainly wheat straw in big square bales with a maximum of 24% moisture the plant had to cope with intakes up to 40%. &#42

&#8226 Farmers get £40/t and ash residue.

&#8226 17 power stations in SE alone.

&#8226 Latest will burn 200,000t/year.

&#8226 Surplus electricity sold abroad.

&#8226 Problems in wet 2001 harvest.

Jorgen Kokhauge hopes straw intakes at the Sakskobing power station next harvest will be drier than in 2001.