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Support to EU SMEs in the bioenergy sector

As solid biomass remains the main resource in Europe’s growing energy production from biomaterials, our team is working towards the promotion of sustainable bioenergy solutions by offering a comprehensive Innovation Mentoring Package to small and medium enterprises (SME). Project SECURECHAIN (HORIZON 2020) is taking place in 6 different regions all around Europe, and UPC, together with “Centre Tecnològic Forestal de Catalunya” (CTFC), is responsible for the Catalan region.

Example of forest works. Source: www.agro90.com Novalia Sinergie’s final product. Source: http://www.grouprenerbio.com/novalia-sinergie/ Commercializing final products: wood chip and pellet. Source: http://perthshirebiofuels.co.uk/

The first step was an open Innovation Voucher Competition, in order to identify trendsetting local bioenergy projects. A total of 10 different SMEs presented their business plans to this competition, and the following four where selected:

1. La Fageda Fundació-Wattia-Aiguasol.

This SME comprises three main players:
– La Fageda Fundació: A Catalan non-profit social initiative created in the city of Olot (La Garrotxa county, located about 150km. north of Barcelona) in 1982. Its aim is to facilitate the integration and job creation for mentally impaired citizens or suffering from severe mental illness. Their main productive activity consists in the elaboration and commercialisation of dairy products, ice cream, jam and marmalade, gardening and cow farm.
– Wattia Innova SL: Company focused on energy efficiency for industry and tertiary sectors.
– Aiguasol: Cooperative SME founded in 1999, groups a multidisciplinary team focused on advanced energy efficiency and renewable energy engineering, technical and scientific consultancy.

The goal of this pilot project is to provide employment and social integration for vulnerable workers (unskilled, mentally impaired or young unemployed) by scaling up a recently started business line based on wood chipping from local forests, wood chip own consumption, wood chip sales to industrial and public consumers and eventually energy services under an ESCO approach.

2. Novalia Sinergie SL.

Novalia Sinergie SL is a filial company from RENERBIO Group. Its main activities are: forest management, drying of woodchips and sawdust, and production of pellets and other products.

The project aims to develop an industrial model which allows the reduction of the final product’s cost (the final unit cost decreases as the production increases). This will allow an expansion of the distribution area, from domestic to international.

3. Probiomassa.

Probiomassa Producció S.L., part of the Electra Caldense group, is a company dedicated to biomass management for energy purposes, and was born from the union of the forest world and the energy world. The aim is to use the knowledge from these two areas in order to develop energy projects, from the forest to the use of thermal energy. The goal is to offer to clients an overall energy management, both domestic and industrial, transforming the forest biomass and promoting the installation of biomass stoves and boilers.

The goal of this pilot project is to scale up their current pellet distribution business, in both ways of the bioenergy supply chain (Upstream and Downstream). The specific target is to mobilize at least 10kton/year of wood chips (50% for pellet production, 50% as chips).

4. Sala Forestal LTD.

Sala Forestal is a company located in Girona, mainly dedicated to the logging and forest wood commercialization throughout Catalonia.The business proposal by SALA FORESTAL intends to cover the biomass fuel supply to biomass boilers which need quality wood chip, well-sieved, with a low ash content, high calorific value, homogeneous particle size and low humidity.The project focuses on scaling up the company’s current wood chip production and enlarge supply chain to biomass boilers.

Once the selection of the different business plans was done, UPC has done a market segmentation of all the different SMEs that have won the competition in their region.This market segmentation takes into account the information presented by the companies to the open call, the Regional Leader Partners progress reports and other outcomes from each region.The main purpose of this market segmentation is to face one of the major barriers that SMEs find when assessing potential bioenergy operations, which is finding adequate financing.