Setting up of a Biomass Logistic and Trade Centre in the Trasimeno Model Region
The LCMW supply chain is less competitive than other biomass subsectors due to low geographic density, the diverse quality and seasonal occurrence of the biomass. The idea emerged during the greenGain project is to develop a value chain by installing Biomass Logistic and Trade Centres (BLTC) in focal points of the production pathway, where value can be added to the quality of the biomass by treating and selecting it and where the consumer can have the security of supply.
Today, the share of renewable energy produced from landscape management is small, especially because of a low geographic density, the diverse quality and its seasonal occurrence. It must be considered that marketing activities for biomass from Landscape Conservation and Maintenance Works (LCMW) deal with a series of shortcomings that must be addressed:
- Low biomass quantities compared to forest production
- Low and variable biomass quality (pollution, impurities, leaves, bark, small branches)
- Seasonality and discontinuity of supply
- Many actors involved (access rights, etc.)
Such characteristics make the LCMW biomass supply chain complex and incomplete and thus constraining the sub-sector to a less competitive profile compared to other biomass types.
The benefits of BTLCs
One often-discussed idea to address the above-mentioned issues and to strengthen exploitation of LCMW material is the introduction of special Biomass Logistic Trade Centres (BLTC) partly dedicated to this biomass type. Biomass trade centres are well known from forestry based operations (i.e. in the Biomass Trade Centre II project) and are known for their suitability to improve logistics. Several trade centres have been successfully implemented with round wood as the most important and high value product. The value chain of such trade centres is well known. However, the approach of trade centres has been less frequently considered for biomass from landscape management. A BLTC could provide various basic services to biomass producers and consumers such as the treatment of biomass (chipping, sieving), quality control and certification of products in terms of quality and origin. Further, it can also facilitate the diversification of products (i.e. separation of chips with different characteristics) or even provide packaging services (e.g. for pellets).
The BTLC can represent to potential customers – either residential, commercial or industrial- a secure point for the supply of fuel with transparency of prices and conditions, encouraging them to invest in biomass heating systems.
A BTLC can further provide comprehensive services such as:
- Providing advisory services to both the producer and the consumer of the biomass regarding either biomass products or energy conversion facilities such as boilers of CHP plants.
- Support farmers and companies in the search for funds for the sustainable development of their companies.
Furthermore, a BTLC can generate jobs and maintain the economic value of the biomass asset within the region. Additionally, the marketing of fuels through the biomass centre creates added value both for producers and customers, who benefit from the bundled, high quality local supply of wood fuels.
Assessing the feasibility of a BTLC in the Trasimeno Model Region
During the project, the greenGain consortium has developed a concept for a BTLC handling lignocellulosic biomass in the Trasimeno region in Umbria, Italy. The idea firstly emerged during the initial consultations with the stakeholders in the Trasimeno Area and it was continuously validated by other actors throughout the duration of the project, especially during the greenGain National Workshop which was held on the 30th of June 2017 in Perugia. Based on the data collected during the project, the project partners SYNCOM and SOGESCA are currently working on a case study to assess the actual feasibility and convenience of setting up such an infrastructure in the model region. The case is based on the availability of feedstock, its spatial distribution and therefore the logistics, the infrastructure and the possible services that could be offered to producers and consumers of biomass.
The challenge is to define appropriately what portion of the biomass marketed through the BTLC can origin from LCMW, which will be the required quality and how it can be integrated with biomass from other sources. The case study is an added result of the project as it was not foreseen in the general plan and will be issued by the end of the project.
Author: Federico de Filippi, SOGESCA