The Netherlands has a significant sugar production, of which Suiker Unie is one of the largest industrial players. Suiker Unie is a part of Cosun, which is a cooperative of around 10,000 beet growers. In 2011 Suiker Unie installed two large biomass fermenters that will be able to provide around 10m m3 of green gas each year to the grid. For this over 100,000 Tonnes of biomass will be used, a byproduct of the production chain of producing sugar.
Sustainability is an important principle in the production chain of Suiker Unie. In the entire chain, from beet seed to sugar beet to sugar and several by-products, efforts are made to use residues in a useful way and to minimize energy consumption. Suiker Unie already generates green electricity in Hoogkerk from the biogas of its methane reactors. The investment in the new biomass fermenter is an important step for Suiker Unie towards further increasing the sustainability of its production chain.
Suiker Unie has the necessary permits and received a positive decision for the installation under the Stimuleringsregeling Duurzame Energieproductie 2010 (SDE, an incentive scheme to promote the production of sustainable energy) of the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation. According to plan, the installation will be put into operation towards the end of 2012.
In collaboration with the Energy Valley Foundation, Enexis, Gasunie and GTS, the possibility of further developing the plan for a Green Gas Hub and feeding the produced green gas into the natural gas grid through this Green Gas Hub is investigated. This planned Green Gas Hub in Hoogkerk will be one of the five Hubs to be set up in the Energy Valley area.
Barriers and Drivers
The positive incentive by the Ministry of Economic Affairs served as a catalyst to invest in biomass fermentation at this large scale. Furthermore, the Energy Valley network Foundations provided important support in managing the cooperation with external partners.
As the Dutch natural supply of gas reserves is slowly depleting, new sources of energy are needed to secure a reliable and secure access to energy. With 10m m3 gas each year, fermentation of agricultural byproducts can make an important contribution to the Dutch economy.
This installation will produce approximately 10 million m3 of green gas each year, which it will supply to the grid upgraded to natural gas quality. 100,000 Tonnes of biomass, made up of organic residues mainly from our own production chains, will be used as raw material for fermentation.
Furthermore, during the fermentation process a byproduct which is very rich in minerals is created, which can be used as an organic fertilizer. Furthermore phosphor and nitrogen, also useful as fertilizer, are extracted as well. This innovation is a big step towards a closed cycle production for the sugar industry in the Netherlands.
More information can be found here: http://www.suikerunie.com/Biomass.aspx