Biomass production for boilers grows 800% in seven years in Catalonia

Biomass boiler

There is an increasing demand for biomass in Catalonia, a type of renewable energy that produces hot water and heating without having to use fuels that affect Climate Change, such as diesel or natural gas. It is also, and above all, a good way to regenerate and manage wood from forests.

In the last seven years, production in Catalonia has grown more than 800%, according to data from the Catalan Forest Observatory, and has exceeded 80.000 tons per year.

A very practical and economical way to use biomass is pellets 

In Catalonia there are six production plants that manufacture pellets with the highest European quality certification. To produce them, they take advantage, for example, of the sawdust that is generated with the construction of wooden pallets to make pellets, a fuel that does not stop growing.

Alfonso Porro, manufacturer of ENplus pellets and administrator of J. Martorell Pallets, ensures that the quality with which they work makes us foresee a promising future. "Each time the product is getting better. The regulations and certifications make this product more recognizable and, therefore, we believe that the growth, both in facilities and awareness, will make this market continue to progress."

Biomass boilers from medium-sized equipment such as schools, hotels or swimming pools are the main customers of producers, who still see very room for growth.

Wood without other use is the other great biomass resource in Catalonia

It is obtained from trees that are discarded for other utilities. In the last ten years this natural resource has registered a spectacular increase of 628%, and it is expected that in 2019 the 327 thousand tons of 2018 will have been exceeded long.

According to Pere Sala, manager of Sala Forestal: "Sustainable forest management is still in deficit. There are many facilities that use fossil fuels that can be clearly replaced very quickly and automatically."

Forest owners are noticing the increased demand for biomass, although selling it, they say, is no business. Yes, It allows to pay for the cleaning and farm management tasks.

Josep Maria Tusell is owner and forest engineer: "Currently, the value of biomass does not justify making a cut. But it has opened a market for us to place some products that otherwise would have no market. I am referring to low quality wood or small size wood. These are jobs that if not, should be done without being able to sell this product."

The consumption of biomass for heating has also skyrocketed

In fact, in recent years there has been a change in trend since, if before, most of the biomass produced in Catalonia was exported, now it is consumed locally. With this local biomass they already supply some entire towns, such as Vilaplana, in La Noguera. A central biomass boiler supplies hot water and heating to all the houses in the town. They no longer consume diesel.

The biomass comes from selective felling of trees to fluff up the forest, as Antonio Reig, mayor of Baronia de Rialb, explains. "It will be managed by the residents themselves, through a specialized company. Every year we will let it cut a few hectares of forest and the forest production that comes out of these hectares. He will return it to us in biomass, and we will have hot water and heating for free. "

The residents of Vilaplana, as Mercè Codina explains, are satisfied with the change. Stopping the use of your individual diesel or pellet boilers has given them comfort. "Now we don't feel noise or smoke smell. The water also goes well with a good temperature."

Teresa Cervera, from the Generalitat Forest Property Center, explains that cutting down trees is not only to operate the boiler, but also to prevent fires. " When cutting increases the carbon fixation rate of the remaining treesBecause they grow more, they have less competition and they grow more. And therefore, on the other hand, as we do fire prevention We stopped emitting carbon in the event of a fire. "