Fuelled by chips

Japan’s largest wood gas-to-energy plant has successfully started operation in the Yamagata Prefecture, generating 2MW of electricity.


Fuelled by gasified wood chips from a nearby forest, Japan’s largest wood gas-to-energy plant has successfully started operation in the Yamagata Prefecture, generating 2MW of electricity for local power purposes.


Unlike other gasified wood plants, Yamagata’s Murayama site runs completely on wood gas, without any backup fuel supply such as natural gas. Because the plant is located near a forest area, the facility has access to a steady source of wood biomass for raw fuel while offering a new use for the forest’s trimmed branches, which previously had to be disposed of.


Located about 400km north of Tokyo on the island of Honshu, in Murayama-shi, Yamagata Prefecture the project is viewed as one example of how Japan could increase the use of renewable resources for energy and reduce emissions.


By 2010, Japan is seeking to increase renewable energy production to three per cent of the country’s overall energy supply. Additionally, as part of its renewable energy strategy, Japan is seeking to expand its use of biomass fuel up to 330MW by 2010.


‘The project represents the first order of large-scale wood gas engines for GE Energy in Asia,’ said Prady Iyyanki, CEO of GE’s Jenbacher gas engine business, noting GE also has supplied its engines for other types of waste gasification projects in Japan.


The two Jenbacher gas engines used by the plant have an electrical efficiency of up to 36 per cent, which is higher than a conventional steam turbine power plant of the same scale. Most of the plant’s energy is sold to a power producer and supplier, with the rest being used to support plant operations.


The Jenbacher engines themselves were manufactured at GE’s gas engine headquarters and manufacturing centre in Jenbach, Austria. The wood gas-fuelled power plant was installed by Kanagawa-based JFE Environmental Solutions, the environmental solutions engineering arm of JFE Group.


The plant is owned and operated by Yamagata Green Power, an electricity distribution company and subsidiary of Japan Biomass Development, a renewable energy development firm.