Limburg welcomes first biomass square in Flanders

The first Biomass Square (Biomassaplein) in Flanders was officially opened this Tuesday 31 May at the Bionerga site in Houthalen-Helchteren (Limburg province). The Biomassaplein is a collaboration between the province waste processor Bionerga and the Regional Landscape Lage Kempen (RLLK). 

Thanks to landscape management of its wooded edges, such as linear plantations of trees or shrubs along Limburg fields and roads, the RLLK is left with tons of wood chips or tons of unused biomass in the winter months.

“After years of planning, we started the trial run this month,” said Bionerga general manager, Philip Peeters, to the Belgian newspaper Nieuwsblad.

Each year, part of the wooded edges is managed in blocks, ranging from 50 to 100 meters spread over the Limburg municipalities. That work can be often performed by local farmers. The wood chips are then delivered in chips in containers at the "Biomassaplein". 

The wood used for biomass is not of sufficient quality to be used as primary material. Bionerga will therefore convert these wood chips into sustainable energy and market them as an alternative to the increasingly expensive fossil fuels.

A large heating installation on the biomass square is fed with unusable fractions of biomass. The installation generates hot water that is used to dry the fresh wood chips. Then, the moisture content decreases from 50 to 20 percent. 

After the drying process, a sieve installation removes metal residues and the very fine coarse fractions. This way, only high-quality dried chips remain that can be put on the market. ​ 

The idea is that the biomass produced would become a sustainable source of energy for the Flemish region.

“The intention is not to ship them abroad or to the other side of Flanders,” Peeters clarifies. “The wood chips must end up in local heating boilers. We want to go for sustainability, a circular economy via a short chain.”

The project is currently in a pilot phase. It is not yet clear exactly how many wood chips Bionerga will deliver each year.






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