Promobio – Promotion to Regional Bioenergy Initiatives is a three year project started in 2011 and co-funded by the European Commission under the Intelligent Energy Europe programme.
Five partner countries are involved (Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Austria, Finland) in three target regions: Warmia-and-Mazury and Mazowsze in Poland, Centru Region in Romania and Banská Bystrica Region in Slovakia. The project focuses on helping companies and regional decision-makers in Eastern Europe to increase the use of biomass for energy by providing concrete support to local companies in establishing new business projects and support the development of regional policy framework related to bioenergy.
There is a big potential to increase the use of biomass for energy in Eastern Europe, but this will require changes in the current policy framework as well as concrete support to new bioenergy projects in terms of consulting and capacity building. On the other hand, political changes in the target countries can affect the achievement of project results. Policy changes, changes in investment support, in public administration or the lower involvement of administrative stakeholders during political campaigns can have a negative impact on the project activities. Despite challenges and the difficult economic situation in Europe, PromoBio has already witnessed some exciting development in the target regions.
Stakeholders for potential biomass supply and demand have been contacted and interviewed for their intended and actual projects. A list of identified stakeholders willing to start bioenergy businesses or companies which already use bioenergy in their processes was developed. Support was given through pre-feasibility studies, one-to-one meetings and trainings to potential pilot project partners. Particularly in Romania and Slovakia, very good progress in terms of installing new biomass capacity was made.
Centru Region in Romania
Located in the middle of the country, Centru Region is also one of the most forested regions of Romania (forest vegetation covers 36.5% of the territory). With a volume of 4.4 million cubic meters of wood harvested in 2011, Centru Region is the second pool of forest harvesting in Romania and the first timber producing area.
During the first year of PromoBio a series of local bioenergy initiatives and projects were identified, out of which Green Energy – Biomass Cluster is of particular importance because it gathers several producers and users of biomass. Based on this identification process the two Romanian project partners (Centru RDA and ISPE Bucharest) decided to provide support for three small and medium scaled pilot projects (< 1 MWth output), and for two large-scale projects which were initiated by the municipality of Miercurea Ciuc and by the municipality of Odorheiu Secuiesc from Centru Region, and help them to fulfill their investment plans in biomass heating plants. With existing commitment and concrete plans it seems very likely these projects will succeed even during the duration of the PromoBio project.
Banska Bystrica region in Slovakia
Banska Bystrica is one of the regions of Slovakia with the highest proportion of biomass used for energy, it accounts for 23.5% of the country’s total forest area and 25.2% of the annual harvest volume. Therefore Banska Bystrica has good potential to increase the use of woody biomass for energy. 27 biomass boilers are in operation with an installed output of more than 1 MWth in the region. The biggest one is located in Zvolen and its thermal output is 108 MW. It is based on co-firing of brown coal and biomass. Now PromoBio has identified 4 more projects to support. One bioenergy supply contract between for bioheat has already been signed.
Warmia-and-Mazury and Mazowsze in Poland
In Poland, the pilot regions are Warmia-and-Mazury and Mazowsze. In the Warmia-and-Mazury province, two districts, namely Ostróda and Olsztyn were selected for the analysis. For those districts, works are currently carried-out on the development of bioenergy plans whose implementation may result in a significant improvement of the use of biomass from various sources. The current status analysis indicates the existence of a very large bioenergy potential in uncultivated land. The bioenergy plans that will be prepared for the target regions within PromoBio will facilitate the use of biomass for the purpose of energy generation. The plans will provide for promotion and information materials as well as training programs for potential investors and promoters.
The current status analyses and the bioenergy plans will highlight the possibilities related to unused biomass, which in the long term perspective may help reduce GHG and PM emissions into the atmosphere from fossil fuels. The use of the available potential may improve the social position of farmers and improve the economic situation of the selected regions.
PromoBio will soon publish a practical guidebook on how to establish a bioenergy supply chain in new areas and will continue supporting the chosen projects and local partners involved in them. Key stakeholders from each target region participated in training on bioenergy supply chains in Austria and Finland. These people will continue working in their areas to see the started projects carried-out.
Written by Jyrki Raitila – senior scientist and team leader at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland