“Renewable electricity full speed ahead” - the first power plant delivered to Portugal is up and running | Kpa Unicon

- the first power plant delivered to Portugal is up and running

The plant, built at Justo SGPS Group´s bioproduct factory in Juncal, Porto de Mos, is generating electricity from renewable energy at full load for the national grid. The plant reduces the need for electricity produced by fossil fuels and thus helps to minimize the CO2 emissions caused by the country’s electricity generation.

“After discussions with KPA Unicon Oy, it became clear that they are the right partner for us in this project. KPA Unicon has a good professional approach and good references. In addition, we were able to flexibly negotiate the extent of the project scope for each party,” states Rui Carreira, the Administrator of Termoflorestal LDA.

Termoflorestal LDA is the company operating the power plant, and it was established for this power plant project. The company is owned by Justo SGPS Group, which has more than 20 different companies operating in different industries.

A logistically optimal solution

The new power plant has an electrical capacity of five megawatts, and it is based on Unicon Pellet powder combustion technology. According to Olli-Pekka Aarnio, Key Account Manager at KPA Unicon, a similar technology is not yet widely used in southern Europe.

“Portugal has a lot of forests and forest-based industries, so technologies like this that make efficient use of biomass by-products are ideal for that market.”

In addition to high-quality technology, commerce in southern Europe is based on mutual trust. Finnish know-how is highly valued in Europe.

“Our customer had the impression that if they want good and functional quality, the Finnish bioenergy suppliers are world-class,” says Aarnio.

The new plant is using wood dust as fuel. The wood dust is a raw material of pellets manufactured at the bioproduct factory located on the same site. In terms of logistics, the solution is excellent: the fuel is transferred from the factory directly to the power plant, so it does not need to be pelletized and grounded. That improves efficiency, saves fuel and reduces the carbon footprint of the entire energy production chain.

In Portugal, either pine or eucalyptus is typically used as fuel. The usability of wood is affected by its chemical composition, among other things. This composition is different in Portuguese pine and eucalyptus than in Nordic pine, spruce or birch, for instance. Also, the part of the wood utilized impacts the properties of the fuel.

“If forest residues, which often contain small chips, twigs and treetops, have been used as the raw material for the pellet, then the composition of the fuel isn’t at a top-class level. For example, eucalyptus bark often causes challenging properties in the biomass, such as chlorine concentrations and alkalis, which affect the combustibility as well as the life cycle of the boiler materials and ash removal,” says Aarnio.

Cooperation by utilizing strengths

The parties implemented the project with a concept that capitalized on strengths from both sides. KPA Unicon was responsible for the plant’s design and technology. The delivery included a boiler with auxiliary systems, a turbine, a generator, a condensing system, flue gas cleaning equipment and a high-tech PlantSys system that enables remote operation and monitoring of the plant. KPA Unicon was also responsible for the commissioning of the power plant and the training of the operating personnel.

Termoflorestal LDA was responsible for the power plant’s civil engineering and foundation work, buildings, steel structures, and ducts and piping, which were purchased in accordance with KPA Unicon’s design and initial data.

Termoflorestal LDA also performed the installation work of the power plant under KPA Unicon’s site management and installation supervision.

“Our client already had good networks with local installation and construction companies, which was a big help since we hadn’t been in that market before. For our part, we have the necessary technical and engineering expertise to design this kind of plant,” says Aarnio.

In the future, a new production line to be built next to the bioproduct factory will also use the steam generated by the power plant. This production line will separate eucalyptus oil from the eucalyptus plant. According to Aarnio, the new process will not reduce electricity production.

“When the expansion of the factory is complete, the boiler power will be increased, and the necessary steam will be taken from the turbine’s high-pressure steam outlet. In this way, heat and electricity can be produced in an optimal ratio, without wasting thermal energy unnecessarily with a condenser.”

Government supports the use of biomass

The business model of the new power plant is based on a long-term power purchase agreement (PPA) guaranteed by the Portuguese state. Through this agreement, the electricity user agrees to purchase a certain amount of electricity from the electricity producer at a contract price for a period of 20 years.

If the market price of electricity is below the guaranteed price, the state pays the difference between the guaranteed and the actual price. This will support renewable forms of energy, such as the use of biomass.

The customer already had a valid PPA agreement, for which additional time was requested with the new power plant. Carreira states that the “guaranteed tariff of selling the green electricity to the national grid of Portugal guaranteed a solid business case and of course we wanted to be part of making the Portuguese energy production greener for the future.”

KPA Unicon and Termoflorestal LDA will continue to cooperate for the next two years under an extended maintenance agreement. KPA Unicon will monitor and, if necessary, operate the plant remotely, and will also plan and manage annual maintenance. In addition, KPA Unicon will train operating personnel on site.

“For the next two years, we will have one person on site for a third of the year, that is, four months, to support their own operation and maintenance organization and transfer know-how. In doing this, we want to ensure the smoothest possible use of the plant in the future as well.”

For more information:

Key Account Manager Olli-Pekka Aarnio, olli-pekka.aarnio@kpaunicon.com, tel. +358 40 189 9228

Fact box:

Bioproduct factory in Juncal, Portugal, owned by the Justo SGPS Group

Customer: Termoflorestal LDA
Plant: Unicon Altius
Commissioning: 12/2019
Nominal load of electricity: 5 MWe (net)
Boiler/Fuel load: 19.9 MW
Flue gas processing: Unicon Bag filter
Fuel: Dry wood powder