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Eon to build France’s largest biomass-fired plant

8 Mar 2012, 6.47 pm GMT

Eon to build France's largest biomass-fired plant

Perpignan, 8 March (Argus) — German utility Eon will build the largest biomass-fired power plant in France, after receiving approval for the 150MW facility from the French government this week.

The plant will be built in Meyreuil, Provence, and is slated to be on line by the end of 2015 as Eon phases out its existing coal-fired Provence 4 station on the same site. The company must close Provence 4 by 1 January 2016 to comply with tighter French environmental controls.

The combined heat and power (CHP) facility will produce 970 GWh/yr and an unspecified amount of heat production for the local municipality and plant site, with its power generation sold into the regional grid.

The plant will consume 720,000 t/yr of wood feedstock, with 360,000 t/yr of this expected to be imported industrial wood pellets transported to the site from the southern port of Fos-sur-Mer. The remaining 360,000 t/yr will be sourced from local forest cover.

But the size of the procurement operation has led to French energy minister Eric Besson setting up a new biomass committee, controlled by local lawmakers, covering the Provence-Cote D'Azur region.

“This is a project without precedent in renewable energy in France,” Besson said. “We had to take particular care over any issues surrounding the procurement of this amount of wood locally. The new committee we are setting up will oversee this important task of a trouble-free collection of biomass for energy.”

The plant is one of 15 facilities approved by Besson on 6 March in the country's fourth bidding round for biomass-fired plants, which was its largest so far in capacity terms, with projects totalling 421MW. The previous largest round was the second round approved in 2010, which saw a total of 22 projects approved with a capacity of 308MW. The first bidding round saw 138MW from eight projects with 266MW from 31 projects in the third.

France must increase the pace of installation as three projects from the first bidding round and 19 of the 22 from the second round remain in planning or under construction, according to Besson.

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