Source: eKapija | Friday, 11.09.2015.| 12:26
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Straw instead of gas - Vojvodina plans to build public facilities for storing agrarian biomass

In late August, the Provincial Secretariat for Energy and Mineral Resources issued a public call for tenders for the preparation of study on the spatial layout of dedicated public warehouses for the storage of agrarian biomass in the territory of AP Vojvodina, and one of the aims of the preparation of that study was maximum possible exploitation of that power resource, people at that Secretariat told eKapija.

As it was explained by the Provincial Secretariat, the study should also contribute to a more precise determination of the ways in which to organize and operate these storage facilities, locations where they should be built, as well as the price and capacity of warehouses.

The documentation accompanying the call for tenders for the preparation of study says that Serbia, as a member of the Energy Community, took on the task to follow the energy policy of the European Union (EU) that stipulates, among other things, an obligation to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, which can be achieved by boosting the energy efficiency and using renewable sources of energy.

Biomass as an under-tapped resource

As it is stressed in the tender documentation, biomass represents the biggest renewable energy potential in Serbia, especially in Vojvodina, where the biggest amount of crop residues is available. The question is how to tap this potential in the best possible way, in the country or abroad. One of the tasks is to open the biomass market, that is, to connect all those possessing biomass with those wishing to use it. The Provincial Secretariat for Energy and Mineral Resources has considered forming public warehouses for this purpose, and one of them, in Apatin, is in the final phase of implementation.

The aim of the preparation of aforementioned study is to identify the needs and capacity for storing the biomass, primarily crop residues, in AP Vojvodina for the primary purpose of using it as a renewable source of energy. Warehouses should allow for the development of biomass market and encourage its broader use. The study should also identify problems and possible solutions, taking into the account both efficiency and expenditures.

Target group for the Study includes the Provincial Secretariat for Energy and Mineral Resources, agricultural companies and large farms, family agricultural estates, prospective investors in high-capacity power plants (heating plants, biogas plants, biofuel manufacturers, etc.) and the Republic of Serbia.

Biomass storage facilities are necessary

According to Vojislav Milijic, the president of the National Biomass Association SERBIO, organized agricultural biomass storage facilities, both public and private ones, are necessary for future heating plans, power plants, industrial consumers, as well as for other agricultural biomass processing companies.

- Storing agricultural biomass means to designate a big surface area exclusively for this purpose. If we know that agricultural biomass is collected over a short period of time upon the harvest and that it has to be stored during the whole year, it is clear that the surface area of the warehouse needs to be really big - Milijic explains to eKapija.

He reminds that the Regulations on the Protection from Fire in Agriculture (Official Gazette SFRJ 27/184) which defines, among other things, the method of storing the straw.

- Considering the required amount of agricultural biomass as well as mandatory fire protection measures, the conclusion is that a surface area of 5 to 6 hectares is needed for storing 10,000 tonnes of straw or more. It is hard to expect that private landowners will be willing to designate fertile fields for this purpose for free. On the other hand, it costs more to build storage facilities. With this in mind, my opinion is that the initiative to establish public warehouses for the storage of agricultural biomass is very significant because it is one of the measures that can ensure an increased use of agricultural biomass in a long run – Milijic stresses.

When asked if such storage facilities could be built in other parts of Serbia as well, he says that only Vojvodina has a real potential for utilizing agricultural biomass. As he explains, in order for the use of agricultural biomass to be profitable, it must be mobilized in an efficient and cheap manner - that is, by using efficient machinery on a flat terrain and bigger areas. That can be achieved only in Vojvodina. Besides, there are developed agricultural companies in Vojvodina which can easily invest in machinery and implement logistics solutions related to the mobilization of agricultural biomass.

- Other parts of Serbia have wood biomass, but biomass storage facilities are definitely needed. The National Biomass Association SERBIO is implementing the BioRES project - Sustainable Sustainable Regional Supply Chains for Woody Bioenergy, in cooperation with several partners from the EU, and this project is financed by the Horizon 2020 fund of the European Commission, which is aimed at the establishment of logistics centers for woody biomass in municipalities across Serbia - says Milijic.

Significant biomass potential in Serbia

Speaking about the biomass potential of Serbia, Milijic points out that some data show that this potential amounts to about 3.3 Mtoe (million tonnes of oil equivalent), approximately 1.7 Mtoe of which is agricultural biomass and the rest is wood biomass.

- This potential is either mainly untapped or tapped inefficiently. Serbia has only one heating plant powered by biomass (Sremska Mitrovica, sunflower shells) and only two biomass power plants with the energy agreement, which are still far from realization. Also, a substantial amount of firewood is used inefficiently or the firewood is used to make pellet or plywood for export. In the end, instead of using this biomass that we`re exporting, we`re importing fossil fuels - Milijic concludes.

Sead Saitovic

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