While renewable energies were struggling, the threat of oil scarcity and climate change gave them a boost. But pioneers have been at work for a long time ...
The Bosshard family, which together with Woodpower AG near Wila in the canton of Zurich produces CO2-neutral current and heat through wood gasification.
The idea was born three years ago: father and son Bosshard, owners of a wood construction company in Wila, wanted to secure their future by seeking new prospects.
«Woodpower est née d'une nécessité, mais pas seulement. Il y avait aussi un intérêt pour les nouvelles technologies, car nous sommes une famille de bricoleurs, et puis, nous voulions faire quelque chose pour l'environnement», explique Oliver Bosshard avec fierté.
By chance, they fell on a small wood gasification plant and began to think about the possibility of commercial exploitation. They have done research on the Internet, sought contacts and investors around the world.
During the change of supply network, the Zurich-based electricity company EKZ became aware of the existence of the company and was interested in it. Today, EKZ owns 49% of the capital of Woodpower.
Wood carburettors were already in use at the time of the XIIIth World War, especially to replace gasoline. They were fed with beech wood and installed on trucks. Then, this technology has fallen into oblivion.
Moreover, the Bosshard found no model of commercial exploitation in Europe. But, finally, in India, where there were forty years of experience. "It's rather curious to go and seek know-how in a country that, if not, does not matter any of the Western countries," says Oliver Bosshard.
To produce electricity, the company uses unused wood waste collected in the surrounding area. "Here, there is enough wood. If it had to be transported over long distances, the benefit for the environment and the company would be reduced. "
The old wood is first burned, and produces wood gas, consisting of carbon monoxide, dihydrogen and methane. Before introducing the gas into the generator, remove all traces of tar, which is removed with the special waste.
The combustion of wood is part of the natural cycle of carbon: it does not give off more CO2 than it had to the tree for its growth, so that the electricity produced is neutral compared to Greenhouse gas emissions.
Heat and current
But electricity accounts for only a third of production. The essential thing is the heat. A small part is used to dry the wood used for the production of electricity. And the greater part to make wooden pads. The more dry they are, the better the combustion.
Oliver Bosshard ajoute que, depuis la mise en service de l'installation au début de l'année, ils croulent sous les demandes. Il ignore si son aventure va faire école en Europe. Mais les 'maladies d'enfance' sont maintenant passées, il ne reste plus que quelques ajustements à faire. Selon ses estimations les plus prudentes, son entreprise sera rentable en deux ans.
The Energy of the Future
Pour EKZ et les Bosshard, cette installation innovante et unique joue un rôle pilote, un rôle de démonstration aussi: il y a tous les jours des visiteurs. Les banques et les groupes d'électricité investissent dans les énergies renouvelables, bref, le courant vert est très tendance.
The Confederation also wants to encourage this sector. This is explained by Michael Kaufmann, Deputy Director of the SFOE: "Projects such as that of Wila have a future. Switzerland has a great potential for biomass, wood and organic waste, and it is about exploiting it. It's energy in front of us. "
Michael Kaufmann is pleased to see this kind of project happen. But this type of installation must have a certain size, not too important either, so as not to harm the environment, for example with too long transports.
Recently, the United Nations has warned of the negative effects of bioenergy, but its benefits should not be ignored. "I would like to point out that fossil fuels have far more serious effects on the environment and society," says Michael Kaufmann.
«Comme ce n'est que le début des énergies renouvelables, nous avons la possibilité d'en tirer les enseignements nécessaires.» Et, donc, d'éviter des développements négatifs. «Il ne faut pas que l'utilisation de la biomasse nuise à la population, à la production agricole ou à l'écosystème.»
swissinfo, Gaby Ochsenbein
(Traduction et adaptation de l'allemand: Isabelle Eichenberger)
Found on: http://www.econologique.info/index.php/ ... issinfoorg