Bulgarian Syngas Project Launches Construction

Karlovo Power Plant Will Turn Syngas Derived from Straw and Wood Wastes into Cleaner, More Reliable and Economic Electricity

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The 5-MW Karlovo plant in Bulgaria, pictured here under construction, will use three of GE’s Jenbacher engines to help the country achieve greater energy independence.

Bulgarian plans to use alternative fuels for generating sustainable electricity are now taking shape, following the start of construction of the Karlovo integrated gasified biomass power plant. When completed the plant will distribute cleaner electricity, using wood waste and straw, to some 2,000 homes.

The landmark biomass-to-energy plant powered by GE’s Jenbacher gas engine technology is being built near Stroevo, in Plovdiv province.

This plant is also being developed to reduce Bulgaria’s historic dependence on imported energy. The 5-megawatt (MW) Karlovo plant will use three of GE’s fuel-flexible Jenbacher engines—one J612 and two J620 units.

The engines will be powered by syngas derived from straw and wood chips. Such organic waste is normally difficult to gasify effectively, but tight integration of EQTEC Iberia’s biomass-gasification technology, coupled with GE’s gas engines is expected to provide high levels of emissions performance, efficiency and economy.

Scheduled for completion by the end of 2014, the plant is being built by EQTEC Iberia, part of Spanish holding company Ebioss Energy AD. It is the latest development in Ebioss’ strategy to apply its EQTEC Iberia throughout Europe to help countries reduce their dependence on foreign energy supplies and to increase the proportion of energy from renewable sources.

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The 5-MW Karlovo plant in Bulgaria will use EQTEC Iberia’s biomass-gasification technology with GE’s proven gas engines to provide high levels of emissions performance, efficiency and economy.

Bulgaria’s target is for 16 percent of its energy demand to be met by domestic renewable sources by 2020. Presently more than 70 percent of its energy is from imported natural gas and oil, according to Bulgaria’s published energy policy.

“Gasifying biomass for energy usage—in this case, straw and wood chips—requires special know-how, and our engineers and GE’s team worked as one team to integrate EQTEC Gasifier Technology and GE’s power generation technologies for improved performance and economics,” said Luis Sanchez CEO, EBIOSS, in a press announcement.

“The IBGPP plant we developed achieves a far higher electrical efficiency than the thermal technologies traditionally used in a plant of this size. For example, a typical Rankine thermal cycle-based plant offers an electrical efficiency of 18 to 20 percent from converting biomass to electricity compared to using GE’s Jenbacher gas engines that offer approximately 28 percent electrical efficiency and almost 70 percent total combined heat and power efficiency. This will enable us to deploy the IBGPP technology economically with GE elsewhere in Bulgaria and in other nations to help them enjoy greater energy independence and fuel diversity.”

Syngas is attractive because it is a continually renewable fuel that enables power to be produced economically on-site at the point of use, reducing losses inherent in electrical transmission. It also helps to solve a waste-disposal problem by converting organic wastes into fuel. With the EQTEC Gasifier Technology, steam and hot water can be generated with no reduction in output power, so overall plant efficiency will be much higher when the plant is used for district heating or other cogeneration applications in addition to power production.

“Using syngas as a fuel is uncommon in such plants and represents an innovative solution to the energy challenges Bulgaria and many other nations face; however, it is challenging to develop an integrated gasification design that doesn’t produce syngas containing impurities that can foul engines. The selection of technologies to work together is important; and the Karlovo plant features EQTEC Gasifier Technology, which produces cleaner syngas,” said Leon van Vurren, global sales leader, Jenbacher gas engines for GE’s Distributed Power business. “At the same time, GE has a proven technology suited to this type of application—GE’s Jenbacher gas engine, which has fuel flexibility and robustness that make it known for its performance even with non-traditional fuel gases.”

GE’s Jenbacher J612 and J620 gas engines running on syngas from renewable biomass are part of GE’s ecomagination portfolio. To qualify for the ecomagination portfolio, products and services must demonstrate both improved economic value and environmental performance.Ecomagination is GE’s commitment to innovative solutions that maximize resources and efficiencies and make the world work better. Overall, GE’s Jenbacher gas engines product line has almost 100 units installed and operating on syngas from waste and biomass with an electrical output of about 100 MW.

Source: Business Wire

Images: GE News Center