Editor’s note: Each year, Diesel & Gas Turbine Worldwide invites prime-mover original equipment manufacturers to submit one specific power generation project it feels merits special attention because of advances in one or more of the following areas: efficiency increase, environmental aesthetics, operation characteristics, emissions improvements or construction principles. For the next several weeks, we will feature some of the most innovative projects on our website.
Jenbacher engines at the heart of Japanese-led wood power plants
A wood power plant in Shingu City serves as the first carbon-negative power plant in the APAC region, operating with SynCraft’s reverse power plant technology. The combination of Syncraft’s climate-positive system and INNIO’s innovative Jenbacher engine technology is expected to continuously feed Japan’s grid with renewable power for approximately the next 20 years.
Tapping into Tariff Power
Japan committed to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 46% in 2030 from its 2013 levels, and decrease dependency on nuclear power. As part of these efforts both to decarbonize and reduce the country’s reliance on nuclear energy, the government of Japan established Feed-In Tariffs (FIT) to provide renewable energy projects in order to accelerate the adoption of renewable energy. Under the FIT initiative, Japanese utilities can buy electricity from renewable sources, such as, biomass, at pre-set premiums. Japan’s FIT policy has stimulated the growth of two energy segments: Wood gas and biogas.
To empower the governmental plans, Shingu Forest Energy LLC -- an entity of Forest Energy Corporation -- moved forward with plans to construct the first biomass power generation project to operate in Shingu City, Wakayama Prefecture, Japan. The Japanese-led team turned to INNIO’s Jenbacher J412 engines.
The use of biomass for decentralized power and heat generation is an increasingly important aspect of the energy transition and associated decarbonization. In contrast to wind and sun, regrowing raw materials such as wood are constantly available and can be used in the form of wood gas to generate power and heat in SynCraft’s reverse power plant using Jenbacher engines. Wood gas has a hydrogen content (energy based) of over 40%. These plants achieve a fuel utilization rate of up to 92%, as well as offer another valuable advantage: in contrast to conventional plants, this new and innovative system produces biochar, rather than ash.
The overall system is capable of releasing only part of the CO2 that originally is stored through the forest. Some of it remains as useful green carbon, thus making SynCraft’s system climate-positive.
Powering carbon-negative plants with wood gas
Commissioned in December 2021, the Jenbacher engines have been tailored to meet the needs of wood gas, marking the world’s first 60 Hertz carbon-negative power plant delivering more than 1.7 megawatts of power. This reverse power plant uses the waste heat of four Jenbacher J412 engines as well as the heat emerging from the gasification process for a total of about 3.8 MW thermal for district heating and fuel drying. The combined heat and power configuration allows the Shingu City wood power plant to achieve an overall fuel efficiency of about 85%. Additionally, every operating hour yields around 200 kilograms of valuable biochar, which can be used for barbecues, animal feed supplementation or soil fertilization.
The use of biomass for decentralized power and heat generation is an increasingly important aspect of the energy transition and fully supports Japan’s goals to decarbonize its power sector. The wood power plants, operating with Jenbacher engines, provide green and secure power because of the constant availability of wood. Additionally, the Jenbacher technology delivers a balancing power source to the grid to support the frequency stability due to the increasing higher share of intermittent renewables sources like photovoltaic. These plants are optimized with a wood gas fuel application, providing an alternative solution for decentralized power generation that is a renewable ‘green energy’. The reverse power plant provides high power generation efficiency, using bark and branches as fuel well as the chipped stemwood.
The combined heat and power configuration is expected to use about 20,000 tons of unutilized wood resources annually from the Wakayama region. The material is chipped and used as fuel in the reverse power plant with the heat used to dry the woodchips. The heat from the plant makes it possible to keep drying cost low and use freshly cut wood as fuel. Additional uses for the residual heat are under exploration.
INNIO and SynCraft, an Austria-based industry leader in wood power plants, have not only delivered and commissioned this project in Japan but also in six European countries. Not only do these highly innovative power plants align with nature, but they have a real climate-positive effect as well.