Biomass is considered a renewable energy source that qualifies for carbon credits under the Kyoto Protocol. It is created with biological material derived from living or recently living plants.
Biomass can be used directly to produce thermal energy or indirectly to produce biofuel such as biogas and syngas using chemical conversion or biochemical conversion methods. USP&E Global has investigated many sources of Biomass and conversion methods with the intent of finding the highest energy yield Biomass and the best conversion technologies.
In Sierra Leone – Africa, USP&E Global investigated the use of Biomass to provide energy conversion for a 100MW Biomass Power Plant for one of its customers, London Mining Company (LMC), for which USP&E Global previously performed Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) on a 13MW Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) Power Plant. USP&E Global (doing business as USP&E Africa) is also providing on-going Operation and Maintenance (O&M) on the same LMC 13MW HFO Power Plant. LMC was interested in finding a renewable energy solution to its expanding power needs. During the Bankable Feasibility Study and related investigation USP&E was faced with three major challenges relating to Biomass energy production in Sierra Leone:
USP&E Global determined viable solutions to the above challenges by sourcing and investigating over twenty different types of Biomass agricultural energy crops such as Giant King Grass, Elephant Grass, Sugar Cane, miscanthus, switchgrass, hemp, corn, poplar, willow, sorghum, sugarcane, bamboo,eucalyptus, oil palm and others that could be grown in Sierra Leone Africa. USP&E Global consulted with Biomass conversion technology specialists worldwide, and also spent over a month on the ground in Sierra Leone looking at suitable land and interviewing other local Sierra Leone companies that are either in the process of developing or have developed Biomass projects.
One of the companies interviewed by Glen Cox, Director of Engineering & Projects at USP&E Global and Jim Wessner, Project Manager at USP&E Global was Addax Bioenergy. Addax Bioenergy is a division of the Swiss-based energy corporation Addax & Oryx Group (AOG) who was at the time well into the process of developing a Greenfield integrated agricultural and renewable energy project in Sierra Leone to produce fuel ethanol and electricity. The project’s intent was to produce about 90,000m3 of ethanol per annum, primarily for export to the European Union (EU) market and 15MW of power to be fed into the national grid. Addax Bioenergy staff were very helpful in communicating the challenges of growing and harvesting Biomass energy crops in Sierra Leone.
Based on the above mentioned challenges the results of the Biomass Bankable Feasibility Study are summarized as follows: