Posted: 05.12.2023 16:00:00

Warmth in green tonnes

Annual consumption of pellets by industrial boiler houses in the country may increase by 220 thousand tonnes

Energy is one of the key aspects in the economy. That’s why it receives a lot of attention at the highest government level. Moreover, the focus is made on involving local fuels in the use, replacing imported fuels and saving budget funds. However, it is also a matter of rational use of the raw materials given to us by nature. “It’s painful to see when a huge amount of biological resources that we have and that can be used as fuel, simply disappear. Therefore, it’s now extremely important to intensify work on the use of our own resources in order to depend as little as possible on imports and reduce the cost of manufactured goods,” the words spoken by the President at a meeting on the efficiency of using local fuel and energy resources in August 2016 are still relevant . During this time, a number of decisions related to the use of local fuels were made at the level of the Head of State, and numerous pilot projects were implemented. As a result, today, through the use of local fuels, about 3.5 billion tonnes of standard fuel are saved per year.

Use it for the needs of the country

The window of opportunity was prompted by sanctions. Due to the illegitimate actions of partners from unfriendly countries, for some time the issue arose with the export of woodworking products, including pellets, a valuable and environmentally friendly raw material for boiler houses, to the now familiar EU market. Let us remind you that new production facilities for the production of fuel pellets began to be built en masse in 2019 in the country’s forestry enterprises to increase the efficiency of use of forest raw materials after a corresponding order from the President. The first results inspired a number of private enterprises to join the issue. But then we had to look for new buyers — and at the same time look at consumption in the domestic market from a new angle. As a result, the Council of Ministers recently adopted Resolution No. 716, which approved a set of measures to increase the use of wood pellets.
At the recent Belarusian Energy and Environmental Forum, Vitaly Kretsky, Deputy Chairman of Gosstandart and Director of the Energy Effectiveness Department, drew attention to the fact that the potential for involving pellets in the country’s energy complex is great. So, today, according to him, enterprises use about 13 thousand tonnes of it. At the same time, by the end of the year, the country’s forestry enterprises alone will be able to produce almost 30 times more. According to the representative of the State Committee for Standardisation of Belarus (Gosstandart) the efficiency of using pellets is obvious: heat transfer is high, practically no ash is formed during combustion, and the automatic operation of the equipment is attractive for work on the periphery.
“On individual energy sources with a capacity of up to 1 MW, especially those that operate using firewood, savings only on operating personnel are four times due to a reduction in wage costs,” Vitaly Kretsky emphasised.
 Considering this factor, among other things, the department, which headed the working group created under the Council of Ministers to develop measures to increase the consumption of pellets by the energy sector, prepared a set of measures to increase the use of wood pellets. It is approved by the government.
In particular, the document contains a list of facilities to which it is possible to supply pellets, including several large ones. We are talking, for example, about the possible reconstruction and modernisation of boilers for the use of pellets in 2024-2027 at a number of facilities of the Belarusian energy company Belenergo. A number of boiler houses in the housing and communal services system in the regions are also listed, the construction of which is planned in the next two years under the state programme called Energy Saving for the current five-year period.
 vitaly pivovarchik

Reserves for supply

Another point concerns the cost of pellets for enterprises, which affects the cost of the heat produced. The price will be fixed and subject to government regulation. They intend to make profitability minimal, the Forestry Ministry assured.
The head of the industrial production department of the production and sales department of the Ministry of Forestry, Vladimir Shut, recalled that in 2017, the department’s system had six small pellet plants with a total capacity of about 16,000 tonnes of pellets per year. In 2020, after the start of implementation of the President’s instructions, production amounted to 187 thousand tonnes. Today, forestry enterprises have 21 factories capable of producing 350 thousand tonnes of pellets per year. They are mainly located in the Gomel, Minsk and Brest Regions, where there is a free resource of low-quality wood and sawmill waste. It is planned to commission another enterprise by the end of the year. As a result, the capacity of forestry enterprises will increase to 370 thousand tonnes.
The search for alternative markets is currently ongoing. 
Vladimir Shut noted that at the end of July the Council of Ministers adopted Resolution No. 491, which introduced changes to the system of providing the population with solid fuels. Thus, the list has been supplemented with pellets — now up to 2 tonnes of them can be sold per household at fixed prices both in forestry producing enterprises and on branded trading platforms under the Forest House brand.
“This measure is also aimed at increasing consumption in the domestic market and will develop not only the utilisation of our capacities, but also Belarusian factories for the production of boiler equipment,” Vladimir Shut shared his opinion.

Demand for biofuels is growing

The Forestry Ministry recalled that the main consumers of wood fuel are housing and communal services organisations, which account for about 40 percent. Then the population with a share of about a quarter. The list of significant consumers also includes budgetary organisations, fuel supply organisations, and Energy Ministry organisations.
“We see that their demand for our products is growing every year. Thus, the total volume of wood fuel production in 2020 amounted to 8.8 million cubic metres. In 2022 there will already be 10.4 million cubic metres. Only during preparation for the upcoming heating season, forestry enterprises created reserves of wood fuel in their warehouses for housing and communal services organisations at the level of 700 thousand dense cubic metres.
As for the production of chopped firewood, the demand for which has been steadily growing since 2021 from the population and fuel supply organisations, the production of such products has been established in 82 forestry enterprises. In total, they can produce up to 150 thousand cubic metres of finished firewood per year. The largest number of such industries were created in the Gomel, Vitebsk and Brest Regions — 19, 16 and 15, respectively.

vitaly pivovarchik

According to the Department for Energy Efficiency of the State Committee for Standardisation, 
the share of local energy resources in the fuel balance in ten regions of Belarus is about 90 percent. In 75 districts — more than 65 percent. In the housing and communal services system alone, there are about 3.8 thousand boiler houses that provide multi-apartment housing stock with thermal energy using biofuel.

By Maria Druk