Hungary moves to biomass

 The power station in Pécs, in southern Hungary, is gradually abandoning coal, which is very polluting, in favor of wood. Since August 2004, one of the plant's four boilers has been fueled with wood, the others still burning gas and coal. The wood-fired boiler is a cogeneration unit that heats a large part of this city of 170.000 inhabitants, supplies steam to 22 large companies and provides 50 megawatts of electrical power out of the 180 at the plant. The coal-fired boiler must be shut down permanently in the spring. The gain in the quality of emissions into the atmosphere will be very significant. In addition, this conversion also responds to the concern to find new sources of energy at a time when local mines are closing. But biomass does not necessarily mean the end of threats to the environment. A boiler burns a lot, and local environmentalists are worried about the Hungarian forests. The solution would be to plant trees on land unused since the European Union restricts agricultural production of its members. Or to burn a cereal, Elymus elongata, developed by a Hungarian research institute.

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 Liberation, January 08, 2005 (summary)  Antoine Blouet

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