Greece Going Green heating from corn and vine residues

viomaza amyntaio

How the Municipal District Heating Company of Amyntaio utilizes what agriculture does not need in the basin of Amyntaio, for the production of thermal energy

The Municipality of Amyntaio aspires to emerge as a leader in the new example of the country, the “green growth model” of the circular economy, which utilizes by-products from fields and forests that can be used as fuel in the biomass thermal power plant that has been operating for a year for heating needs of the residents. For the last 35 years, the town has been closely connected with the mining of lignite, which provided the heating of the city and its municipal apartments, through the hot steam produced by the two units of the homonymous power station.

As the director of the Municipal Heating Company of Amyntaio (DETEPA), Costas Kyriakopoulos, explains, this year’s goal is “to collect about 5,000 tons of corn waste and vineyard waste that are in abundance in the basin of Amyntaio”.

The process

The plain of Amyntaio, in addition to the viticultural areas that produce the wine with the homonymous geographical indication, also has areas with thousands of acres of corn, where the remains after the harvest rotted in the field and today with the tools already available to farmers are packed in bails and with the agricultural vehicles are transported to the storage facilities of the Biomass factory.

A powerful chipper undertakes to convert biomass into “chips”, which in turn are stored to be used as fuel raw material in the production of thermal energy. Mr Kyriakopoulos stressed that “our interest is focused on the by-products from pruning the vines that are usually burned by the growers and the wood residues left in the forest by the workers of the forest cooperatives after the cutting of the trees”.

The discussion with the vine-growers is in progress while according to Mr Kyriakopoulos there are difficulties as concerns forest byproducts because the inaccessibility of the area makes their transport impossible. He added that the most economical solution that is already on the table is “the shredding of the waste in the forest to be done on-site and the “chips” to be transferred to the facilities”.

Participation of farmers

The compensation price set for the “chips” of wood is 45 euros/ton. According to Mayor Anthimos Bitakis, it is an opportunity “to create a new economy in which farmers, vine growers, peach and apple growers will participate through the by-products of their crops, which will be sustainable both for the protection of the environment and for the additional income of our citizens who are farmers “.

Mr Bitakis stated that the Municipality of Amyntaio is “the first municipality in the country that produces thermal energy from the 30 MW Biomass plant for the needs of its citizens” and explained that we had to move fast when we realized that the Amyntaio power station would stop its operation. “For us, the de-lignification came much earlier than the final dates announced by the Prime Minister for Western Macedonia and Megalopolis,” he said.

The mayor of Amyntaio noted that the road to a greener municipality with a better environmental footprint is not an easy path because it also has decisions that have consequences for the citizens. “A few years ago we bought the hot steam from the Amyntaio substation and the consumers paid the municipality and that in turn the PPC.

He recalled that the municipality built the plant with a total budget of 14 million euros by taking a loan from the banks in order to cover 47% of the same participation and added that today “to produce the thermal energy we need we pre-purchase the raw material to proceed with increase heating bills by 32% in order to cope with the new situation “.

Mr Bitakis concluded by saying that when the new unit of Ptolemaida is put into operation and the district heating systems of Western Macedonia are connected to the new SITHYA factory that will be built by PPC, ” which will be done in areas that are close to the district heating pipeline, thus contributing to more dynamic agriculture that the region needs “.