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30 years of Interreg: "Biomass is a bet for renewable and sustainable energy". Interview with Ana Ariz Argaya.

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This year Interreg celebrates its 30th birthday, focusing on three themes of interest for European cohesion: youth, a greener Europe and we all have neighbors. In this context, each month, we will interview one of our emblematic projects related to one of these themes.

This month we chatted with Ana Ariz Argaya of NASUVINSA, partner of PROMOBIOMASSE, a project for the development of an integrated model of sustainable management of forest biomass in short circuit.

  • What is PROMOBIOMASSE about?

PROMOBIOMASSE promotes forest biomass and develops a sustainable short-circuit biomass management model. For this, it is necessary to work through a network and we carry it out with all our partners of the SUDOE's area.

The project is organized in 3 stages. In the first one, good practices in the SUDOE's territory were identified in order to study the use of biomass. From there, in the second stage, we've designed an integrated management model that includes all parts of the biomass value chain such as knowledge resources, sustainable management, access to wood, business management or biomass certification. 10 working tasks have been identified in order to develop the model in a third phase, one per territory and partner. We are currently in the third phase and each partner is developing his/her axis. In Navarra, we focus on creating a logistics center for biomass supply; the French partners made a APP with which you can measure the amount of wood there is for each cadastral parcel; the partner from Extremadura organizes training; in Catalonia they are looking for new ways of mobilizing, carrying out tests with machinery to extract wood, etc.

With this work, each partner is learning from the others, exchanging knowledge and results.

  • Why should we invest in biomass as fuel?

Why not? (laughs)

For me it only has benefits: it is a local product, we are sure of its sustainable management and it is an energy that we produce here, we are not importing it. If we use it from here, we can check that the product is renewable and that we are managing it well, respecting the short circuit, meaning ensuring a relatively short distance. At the end, cities benefit from it thanks of the promotion of local employment, which in Navarra, as elsewhere, is a critical issue, as depopulation is. the more we make our part, ensuring that biomass promotes employment in rural areas, the better! Biomass only has benefits, it has no drawback! (laughs)

  •  Is it known as fuel?

The consumer is looking for the best price and convenience and until not long ago, there were no chip deposit to run boilers. This was seen as something from the future. However, today, there are many boilers and stoves that run on biomass and people are realizing that it works. You have to work on all aspects to make people aware that it is a renewable product, it works well and its price is competitive.

  • How much does biomass contaminate?

In many cities, you can already find heat networks that work with biomass boilers. For example, in Navarra, a large heat network that is going to work only with biomass is being built. The boilers already have their own filters to prevent contamination, they work just like other types of fireplaces. In addition, wood has a neutral pollution balance: what a tree's wood absorbs from CO2 during its growth, it is  offset by the CO2 produced when it burns. That is why biomass is considered a green and renewable energy.

  • In this project, public and private entities cooperate. What are the advantages of this cooperation 

We are a public company of the Government of Navarra that works with the private sector in order to promote it, support it with the demand' stimulation and to make biomass available for customers. We have to promote the development of this business and ensure that the best work is made and therefore, that more product is available. Collaboration must be very close so that we can all benefit. We cannot do the work alone, especially if the private company is already working on it: what we have to do is work together to achieve our common objective and to ensure that both parties benefit of it. And so far, it has worked very well.

  • In this sense, you are creating a mixed capital company. How does it work?

The creation of a mixed capital company is one of the objectives of the project. Today, in Navarra, there is no mixed capital company. After a legal study, we are going to create a biomass logistics center to feed the NASUVINSA boilers. This center is going to be managed by a public-private entity and we are currently studying how to do it. Due to COVID-19, we've suffered some delay but, this year, we should make it happen.

The creation of a mixed capital company is very advantageous for the project. We need biomass and we cannot produce it ourselves. Moreover, we want to guarantee its quality. Private companies produce biomass and what we can do is to work together to guarantee a quality biomass. In this way, we can better control the processes, counting on specialists from several sectors: those who take the wood from the forest, those who handle it, etc ... different agents who work in the same chain to achieve a common goal.

In addition, it must be said that the volume of biomass we handle is not economically profitable since it is a very small volume but private companies are experienced in controlling the costs, the benefits and the profitability.

  • How would you define the project in a few words?

The motto of the project is “Promobiomasse: the energy that grows at your side” and I think this phrase reflects very well the spirit of the project! We are going to promote the use of a product that gives us renewable and sustainable energy that we have at home and that provides to the whole chain many benefits.



                                                                                                                                             @Picture: Courtesy @Promobiomasse 


Thank you very much Ana!

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