Biomass burn increases in February at Japan’s Erex

Japanese utility Erex’s biomass-fired generation at its four dedicated power plants rose from a year earlier in February, with output at the co-fired Itoigawa plant also increasingly sharply.

The group’s combined biomass-fired output at the Toasa, Saiki, Buzen and Nakagusku power plants rose by 4.3pc from the previous year to 116.3GWh in February, Erex data show. Generation increased at all but Tosa, which suspended operations for a half day on 20 February because of an equipment inspection.

Output at the 149MW co-fired Itoigawa power plant rose sharply to 85GWh in February from 2GWh a year earlier, when it had suspended operations for nearly the whole month “due to fuel constraints”, Erex said.

Erex bought a 64pc stake in Itoigawa from Japanese utility J-Power as part of its strategy to increase domestic power generation capacity. It tested co-firing biomass with coal at Itoigawa in mid- to late September 2023 with test ratios for wood pellets co-firing ranging between 10-30pc. Erex previously said it aims to switch to full biomass firing at Itoigawa by 2030 without seeking government support under the feed-in-tariff scheme, with most of the feedstock to be imported.

The utility operates a combined 269MW of wood pellet and palm kernel shell-fired capacity (see table), importing most of the feedstock. Erex does not publish output data for its 75MW biomass-fired Ofunato plant.