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Interfax: Hungarian bio-mass power plant Ajkai faces obstacles in conversion to

Interfax: Hungarian bio-mass power plant Ajkai faces obstacles in conversion to "greener" fuel

11.5.2007 17:13

AJKA. MAY 11. INTERFAX C.NTRAL EUROPE - Hungarian bio-mass power plant Ajkai Eromu, operated by Bakonyi Eromu Zrt, will be unable to switch to full agricultural bio-mass fueling in the medium term due to the lack of resources to finance technology updates, Head Engineer Karoly Jagadits told Interfax at a plant visit organized by the Student Association of Energy.

"We inherited the [current] technology from the nineteen-sixties, while the last renovation and update took place in the late nineties," Jagadits said. "However, there are no large-scale development plans for us for the medium term, we are using what we have."

Out of the five furnaces in the Ajkai plant, four have operated with hybrid fueling since 2004, using a mixture of bio-mass (firewood and agricultural waste) and coal.

The furnaces and conveyor belts, originally designed for fully coal-based operation, currently use a mixture of chipped wood, coal and agricultural waste. Adding more agricultural waste to the mix - in order to decrease the amount of firewood and therefore reduce environmental damage - would only be possible by using new conveyors.

"This is also the reason why we cannot use the so-called energy-weed, despite its good calorific values," Jagadits said. "The material is simply not heavy enough."

The four hybrid furnaces consume 200,000 tonnes of firewood annually, cut down by local forestries. The plant is also fired by about 60,000 tonnes of agricultural waste, which the company has been planning to increase gradually, eventually replacing firewood.

The mix also includes coal, as Hungarian regulations allow mixing coal into biomass fuel, up to 10% when expressed in heating value terms. The plant uses coal imported from Poland and the Czech Republic.

The plant produced "green" electricity of 255 GWh in 2006, of which 228 GWh was sold to local utility E.ON Edasz. The plant's output in 2005 was 289 GWh, of which Ajkai sold 258 GWh to E.ON Edasz.

"There is an annual electricity production quota until 2010, we cannot sell more than that," Deputy Head Engineer Karoly Puskas said.

Bakonyi Eromu Zrt is owned by an investor group led by Hungarian energy and real estate tycoon Sandor Demjan.

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