13th Wood Energy Symposium: heat, power and district heating

What contribution can wood make to the implementation of Energy Strategy 2050? Are wood-based biofuels more worthy of promotion than the production of electricity and heat from wood? These and other questions were discussed at this year's Wood Energy Symposium, held on 12 September 2014 at ETH Zurich.

In his introductory speech, Thomas Nussbaumer, professor at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts and leader of an NRP 66 research project, used a metaphor to make his case for increasing the use of wood in heat and electricity production: "We have to pick the low-hanging fruit!" According to Nussbaumer, it is a proven fact that less fossil fuel is replaced by wood-based fuel than by heat and electricity; this is due to the losses that occur in the initial transformation of wood into fuel. It is therefore important to exploit the existing potential for electricity production through combined heat and power (CHP) in line with the trend forecast in the Energy Strategy 2050. In this context, however, high-quality wood should always be used as a material first and only afterwards as energy. Based on the development of wood-energy use in Switzerland between 1993 and 2012, Gregor Lutz ("Holzenergie Schweiz") offered a forecast for the coming years up to 2050. He also pointed out that, in addition to the unused forest wood, large amounts of waste timber were still being exported even though they could just as well be used in furnaces in Switzerland. A new analysis of 52 district heating networks in Switzerland by Stefan Thalmann (Verenum) and his colleagues shows that there is still considerable room for improvement, particularly in the planning phase. The density of the networks and the pipe diameters apparently have a major impact on cost-effectiveness. The profitability of wood gasification plants in Germany was also recently examined in detail. The analysis showed that it depends to a large degree on feed-in tariffs for electricity and year-round sale of the co-product heat. The future will show whether such plants will be able to establish themselves on a wide scale in Switzerland or only occupy a niche. The organisers have issued conference proceedings for the event containing all talks. The participants also had the opportunity to visit the travelling exhibition of NRP 66 "Wood - An innovative resource". The conference proceedings can be ordered at: Holzenergie-Symposium, c/o TEMAS AG, Egnacherstrasse 69, CH-9320 Arbon, tel. +41 71 446 50 30, e-mail: External Link Iconinfo@holzenergie-symposium.ch External Link Icon