The impressive surge in fossil fuels and consequently also in electricity makes it increasingly urgent to accelerate the energy transition.
Many of us are receiving exorbitant bills, but not the inhabitants of mountain villages that are equipped with biomass district heating systems, i.e. centralized systems of a few MW that produce hot water for local homes and businesses; these plants burn virgin biomass such as sawmill waste and other products from forestry activities.
It is very important to underline that fumes filtration technologies are applied in these systems that would be unthinkable in small sizes such as home stoves and boilers, which precisely make this technology among the systems with the lowest polluting emissions overall.
Most of the systems currently installed are located in climatic zones D, E and F which are not served by the gas-methane network and which therefore typically use diesel for heating. In these cases there is an average annual net saving of 25% for users who access the district heating line and up to 60% for those who have installed a biomass boiler in their home or company.
But with the high price of methane, this solution is also economically advantageous in areas with access to the gas-methane network, again in climatic zones D, E and F for heating or in companies that need hot water, steam or diathermic oil for the production process or for the self-production of electricity in cogeneration.
The price of virgin wood chips has not increased in recent years.
Italy has 36% of the territory made up of woods, about 11 million hectares, and in the last 20 years we have had a 20% increase in the wooded area. And yet we are the largest importers of firewood. We also have available timber from agriculture, apple orchards, vineyards, olive groves.
So with sustainable management of these resources in accordance with a circular bioeconomy, Italy’s energy transition necessarily passes through biomass.