GE Energy believes that the wood gas sector in Asia represents a new growth opportunity for its Jenbacher gas engines business.

The company recently commissioned a wood gas-to-energy power plant in Japan and believes that the project could be replicated across the region to help governments achieve Kyoto targets.

The 2 MW power plant, located in Murayama-shi, Yamagata Prefecture, is the country’s largest wood gas-to-energy plant and has been in commercial service since June 2007. It is powered by two Jenbacher gas engines and is fuelled by gasified wood chips from a nearby forest.

Murayama-shi is Japan’s largest cherry-producing region and means that the new plant can operate completely on wood gas without any backup fuel supply. It uses trimmed branches, which would otherwise be disposed.

Biomass is a key part of Japan’s strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It is seeking to increase renewable energy production to three per cent of overall energy supply by 2010, with biomass-based power plants contributing 330 MW.

The wood chips are gasified using updraft gasification boiler technology from Babcock & Wilcox Volund. The resulting wood gas fuels a JMS 616 GS-S.L engine unit and a JMS 612 GS-S.L engine. Most of the plant’s energy is sold to a power producer and supplier, with the rest being used to support plant operations.