The uP_running Project: Biomass From Agrarian Prunings and Plantation Removals

The uP_running project is a market uptake project, focused on promoting the energy utilization of Agricultural Prunings and Plantation Removals biomass in Europe.

The biomass potential from Agricultural Prunings and Plantation Removals (in short: APPR) in Europe is estimated to be huge, reaching up to 20 Mt/yr of dry matter production. However, the actual utilization rate of APPR biomass is very low compared to other types of solid biofuels, such as those originating from forest biomass (widely used for a variety of applications, from domestic heating to large-scale power production) or even herbaceous agro-biomass (examples of cereal straw utilization in power production are relatively few but quite well known and relatively large in size).

Technical issues in harvesting and managing APPR biomass may be challenging and they have been well addressed by previous initiatives, such as EuroPruning project; for pruning harvesting, several technical solutions from different manufacturers are available in the market.

Additionally, several existing and successful value chains based on APPR biomass have been identified in Europe. Most are based on small-scale heating applications, however, there are examples of value chains using APPR biomass for power production, CHP, agro-industrial heating or even large-scale pellet and chips production.

The main barriers for increasing the utilization share of APPR biomass are non-technical ones: skepticism of market actors, item of low priority in the design of agricultural or energy policies, low economic values and competition with other fossil or even biomass fuels among others.

The uP_running project: a tool to mobilize woody APPR biomass through twenty project demonstrations

uP_running project demonstration in Greece: harvesting of kiwi prunings using a FACMA TR200 integrated harvester/shredder (Source: CERTH, uP_running)
uP_running project demonstration in Greece: harvesting of kiwi prunings using a FACMA TR200 integrated harvester/shredder (Source: CERTH, uP_running)

uP_running is designed as a tool that specifically works towards overcoming the barriers that hinder the development of an APPR biomass sector. A key message that the uP_running project intends to deliver to stakeholders interested in initiating value chains based on APPR biomass is that, although they may be the first in their region or even country, they are not the first to work in this direction before; others have tried in the past, have succeeded and their example can be a valuable lesson and experience for imitation or improvement.

A major project activity is the organization of twenty short-term demonstrations of APPR biomass value chain operations, five in each of the four uP_running demonstration countries (Spain, Italy, Greece, and Ukraine). The demonstrations are performed by local pioneering organizations (“prime movers”) that have been selected through an open process for expressions of interest.

The uP_running project partners support these prime movers in finding and using appropriate harvesting equipment for APPR biomass, organizing the logistic operations, assessing appropriate business models and checking the overall financial and environmental sustainability of the value chains. Prime movers include many different types of organizations, such as farmers and fruit producers, agricultural cooperatives, agro-industries, public institutions and bioenergy companies.

In the coming months, uP_running will release a series of short videos summarizing the activities performed together with each prime mover. Additionally, a public report to be published in autumn 2018 will summarize the main outcomes of the twenty demonstrations. Finally, one prime mover per demonstration country will receive further project support in order to further develop the value chain and bring it closer to commercial operation.

Sharing APPR biomass experiences: the uP_running Observatory and flagships

figure-6-up_running-observatoryThe uP_running “Observatory”, is an online tool for recording and displaying “experiences” related to APPR biomass: field measurements of biomass potential from APPR biomass, mechanized collection of APPR biomass and – finally – existing, commercial APPR biomass value chains.

By visiting the observatory an interested user can find information such as:

  • How much APPR biomass was produced in specific locations for different crop species / varieties and under what conditions?
  • What was the measured operational performance of technical implements used for APPR harvesting (e.g. how many tons per hour could be collected / processed)?
  • Which are the known existing APPR value chains that have materialized in Europe? What is the raw material and what are the end products? What have been the key factors for success?

In addition to the above, a number of existing APPR value chains have been selected as “flagship” cases, being of particular importance as practices to imitate and spread. Five such cases have already been described in great detail in a project report, giving information on the business models followed, logistics arrangements and supply chain, end-use of APPR biomass and other aspects:

  • Domaine Xavier Muller, a pioneering wine grower using innovative methods to collect and process vineyard prunings and uprooting material for self-consumption in a heating boiler.
  • The Vineyards4heat project, a private-public partnership in Spain, focusing on a new management system for the harvesting of vineyard prunings and their utilization in a municipal district heating network as well as in private wineries.
  • ITC Shabo, a winery / distillery in Ukraine using vineyard prunings to produce steam in an industrial boiler
  • Pelets de la Mancha, the world’s largest producer of wood pellets and chips from vineyard prunings.
  • Fiusis, the world’s first biomass power plant fueled exclusively from olive tree prunings.

At least five more flagship cases are expected to be studied by the uP_running project partners till the end of 2018; information on these will be compiled in an additional project report.

About uP_running project

For more information about the uP_running activities, visit the project website http://www.up-running.eu/

Specific recommendations on setting up APPR biomass value chains (how the different stages of the value chain and logistics can be carried out, which are the main keys to make the value chain operative, how to ensure that the final user finds an added value in the APPR biomass they receive, and how to preserve the quality and market value) can be found:

The uP_running project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 691748. This document reflects only the author´s view and INEA is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

Text provided by Mr. Emmanouil Karampinis from Centre for Research and Technology Hellas (CERTH).

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