Steam Production from Biomass

To produce steam consumed by the Saint Fons site, Solvay substitutes natural gas with a biomass heating plant that uses wood waste as fuel

Main project's drivers for reducing the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions

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Energy and resource efficiency

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Energy Decarbonisation

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Energy efficiency improvements

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Improving efficiency in non-energy resources

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Emission removal

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Financing low-carbon issuers or disinvestment from carbon assets

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Reduction of other greenhouse gases emission

Project objectives

The main objective of the project is to decarbonise the heating power required for the steam the processes need to operate at the Solvay site in Saint Fons (Rhône-Alpes, France).

Detailed project description

The proposed solution is to build a new biomass boiler fuelled by waste wood (B wood) to produce the steam consumed by the site and which will substitute for the current boilers fuelled by natural gas.

Emission scope(s)

on which the project has a significant impact

Scope 1

Direct emissions generated by the company's activity.

Scope 2

Indirect emissions associated with the company's electricity and heat consumption.

Scope 3

Emissions induced (upstream or downstream) by the company's activities, products and/or services in its value chain.

Emission Removal

Carbon sinks creation, (BECCS, CCU/S, …)

Avoided Emissions

Emissions avoided by the activities, products and/or services in charge of the project, or by the financing of emission reduction projects.

Scope 1 – Substitution of the consumed Natural Gas by biomass

  • 41 ktCO2/year

The project substitutes the annual consumption of 200 GWh PCI of natural gas.

The emission factor of natural gas considered is 205 kgCO2/MWh PCI.

The emission factor of the biomass considered is 0 kgCO2/MWh PCI.

The calculation of the annual reduction of direct CO2 emissions (scope 1) by using biomass instead of natural gas, expressed in tonnes of CO2, is :

Annual quantity of energy consumed in GWh x 1000 x (biomass emission factor in kgCO2/MWh – natural gas emission factor in kgC02/MWh) / 1000).

So, for the case exposed : 200 000 × (0 − 205)/1000 = − 41 000 metric tonnes

So, the use of biomass allows a gain in direct emissions (Scope 1 Solvay) of 41 ktCO2 / year.

Key points

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Invested amount


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Starting date of the project


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Project localisation

Saint Fons, Rhône

Project maturity level

Prototype laboratory test (TRL 7)

Real life testing (TRL 7-8)

Pre-commercial prototype (TRL 9)

Small-scale implementation

Medium to large scale implementation

Economic profitability of the project (ROI)

Short term (0-3 years)

Middle term (4-10 years)

Long term (> 10 years)

Illustrations of the project

In France, it is estimated that 20% of Wood B is not recovered under acceptable technical and economic conditions, and therefore is treated in landfill. So, a major issue is to improve the valuation of the wood B and this project will contribute to it.

Given the quantity of wood B required, this project will be structured through the establishment of a local supply chain and valorisation of wood B. The operation of the future boiler station will ensure sustainability for the sector and its associated employment area.

Potential for replicability of the project to other Solvay sites in France.

A preliminary study is underway for the Clamecy site (CO2 impact ~ -10kt/year).

Conditions for reproducibility:

  • Availability of a sustainable local wood waste stock
  • Economic viability of the investment
  • Anticipation of the site’s long-term steam needs

Several factors condition the success of such a project:

  • The security of the planned supply plan
  • Investment and operating aid
  • The facilities classified as environmental protection (ICPE) procedure and the operating permit.

Several actors contribute to the successful implementation of this project :

  • Solvay: provides land and long-term commitment to purchase steam
  • Dalkia: operation and maintenance of the installation
  • Ademe: investment and operating aid
  • Other third-party private investor partner to be confirmed.
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Contact the company carrying the project :

Solvay’s other projects :