Japan is working with a small German company to generate power from timber that has been exposed to the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear meltdowns. According the Dusseldorf-based Entrade Energiesysteme AG’s Chief Executive Officer Julien Uhlig, they will be selling electricity from 400 of its container-sized biomass-to-power machines set up in Fukushima Prefecture.
The devices will be generating 20 MW of power and it will be functioning like a biological battery that kicks in when the sun descends on the the region’s solar panels, he said according to Renewable Energy World.
By selling green power using Entrade’s mobile units will help Japan’s goal to repopulate a region that has been struggling to restore its population after the earthquake and tsunami last March 2011, wherein more than 18,000 people were killed. The event also triggered the Fukushima Nuclear meltdown which dislocated 160,000 people. The prefecture is aiming to generate 100 percent of its power from renewable energy by the year 2040.
The E4 plants of Entrade, wherein four of which fit inside a 40-foot or 12-meter container, is able to reduce the mass of lightly exposed wood waste by 99.5 percent, according to Uhlig. By shrinking the volume of waste, they are helping the Japanese authorities to lessen the volume of contaminated materials. Many workers around Fukushima have been cleaning by scraping up soil moss and leaves from the contaminated surfaces and sealing them in containers.
Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. Source: Wikimedia
“Burning won’t destroy radiation but we can shrink detritus to ash and create a lot of clean power at the same time. There’s a lot of excitement about this project but I also detected a high degree of reluctance in Fukushima to talk about radiation.” Uhlig said in a phone call from Tokya on Oct. 21, according to Renewable Energy world.
The Japanese government’s estimated clean-up may take 4 decades to complete and may cost around $3.3 trillion yen or $31.5 billion through March 2018. According to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in March, Japan cannot give up nuclear power. They want about a fifth of Japan’s power to be generate by nuclear by 2030. Currently, only 2 of the Japan’s 42 operable nuclear reactors are running, this in effect means higher cost for imported fossil fuels and greenhouses gas emissions.
Entrade Biomass plants ate Knowsley Business Park. Source: Bloomberg
The biomass units of Entrade will be located about 50 kilometers or 31 miles from the Tepco reactors, according to Uhlig. These biomass plants rely partly on technology that has been developed by Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute. The plants are “compactors” of lightly irradiated waste. This technology is popular for environmentally-conscious clients who have a steady stream of bio waste but don’t want to invest in a plant, Uhlig said.
Uhlig’s company is working with London’s Gatwick Airport to convert food waste from airlines into power. The Royal Bank of Scotland has financed another project which supplies power from 200 units to an industrial estate near Liverpool in the U.K.
Entrade has been testing and studying with different types of biofuel—130 types—since they started their operation in 2009. They claim that is plants convert biomass to power with an efficiency of 85 percent. The company will be moving its headquarters to Los Angeles so that they will be able to generate investment capital and will also help meet the demands in the United States and the Carribean. They currently have 250 units in California and they can hardly keep up with demand, Uhlig said.