Current doubts about oil supplies and the need to find renewable alternatives have once again placed organic and biological waste from natural sources as an environmentally-friendly option that provides guarantees. So, the original thing is to go back to the origins.
In the settlement of Santa Rosa, a community located in the north of the province of Corrientes in Argentina, they know what it is like to live with Nature. Founded in the early 20th century, the land has been the main source of wealth of this territory, which is still known for its timber production. Santa Rosa is full of sawmills.
A rainy area full of lakes, rivers and forests, the skies are often lit up in Santa Rosa by spectacular storms typical of the climatic pattern of the area. However, despite the abundance of lightning, the region has traditionally been characterised by power cuts and insufficient energy to drive its development.
This energy deficit has held the area back in terms of economic progress; to solve the problem, the Argentinian authorities have activated a revitalization programme called 'Plan Belgrano'. The plan envisages the creation of the Santa Rosa industrial park as one of its main elements. Within the park, the construction of a biomass plant is a key factor. The electricity generation equipment will be powered by organic waste from the sawmills, re-using and giving a second life to a large quantity of sawdust and remains from timber operations that cannot be used at present. To date, these have been burnt outdoors -leading to considerable pollution- or have simply been left to rot, generating methane during their decomposition; methane is one of the gases that causes the greenhouse effect.
This highly strategic project for the community of Santa Rosa carries the stamp of Dominion. The company, building the biomass plant under the turnkey modality, covers all the phases from design to start-up of the infrastructure, and then operation and maintenance services.
“This initiative will transform the lives of many people. The plant will create more than 200 direct jobs during the construction phase and over 60 for its operation and maintenance. It will also generate power in an area whose development was hindered by power cuts and poor electricity supplies”, explains Manuel Barandiaran, Operations Director of Dominion Green.
As well as creating direct employment, the new facility will have a positive impact in terms of environmental sustainability, the economic progress of the community and the standardization of the sawmills in the area.
“This plant will reduce pollution levels, as until now forestry waste was burned in the open air and all that smoke went straight into the atmosphere. It will also have an impact on wealth creation, as the availability of energy will encourage the arrival of new companies and the timber companies will be able to sell their waste products to the plant. In other words, there is a positive economic, social and environmental impact on the area and its electricity supplies”, Mr Barandiaran adds.
The 18-megawatt-capacity Santa Rosa biomass plant will be equipped with a pre-treatment unit that will process 270,000 tonnes of biomass per year. The facility will also include a boiler, a turbine and a generator, the last two being the most technological features of the plant.
The plant, which will operate 24/7, 365 days a year, will have more than 2,000 control points to ensure optimal operation.