Powering switch to renewables

Nov. 9, 2022
Energy provider Albioma recently set forth a plan to transition its Bois Rouge plant to 100% renewable energy sources

When it comes to the energy transition, one of the first orders of business is to replace coal with natural gas and/or renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power, as well as biomass. Coal-fired power plants are one of the top targets of governments that set net-zero goals for their nations. In Europe, countries such as France and Switzerland, are on an aggressive mission to transition from coal to renewable energy, with efforts targeting 2030 in some cases.

French, independent, energy provider Albioma is one of the world’s power companies moving swiftly to migrate its coal-fired plants to renewable energy. Recently, it set forth a plan to transition its Bois Rouge plant, located on Réunion Island in the Indian Ocean, to 100% renewable energy sources, and it enlisted global technology and software company Emerson to help. The work is being done as part of Albioma’s wider mission to transition its existing fossil fuel plants to renewable energy, and Emerson’s automation systems and software will enable the coal-fired power station to convert to using biomass feedstock.

The multimillion-dollar project is the latest example of how Emerson technologies are helping customers accelerate their transition to more sustainable energy, the company said in an announcement of the project. The Bois Rouge power plant, which has been in operation since 1992, is one of three that Albioma operates on Réunion Island. It will be converted to use 100% biomass wood pellets. The overhaul of the 108-megawatt facility will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 640,000 tons of CO2 equivalent per year, an 84% decrease in direct emissions compared to current operating levels.

“Our aim as a company is to reach almost 100% renewable energies by 2030 at the latest, and the complete discontinuation of coal at our flagship site represents a major milestone in this green revolution,” said Pascal Langeron, chief operating officer for Reunion Island at Albioma. “Emerson is an automation partner with whom we have a trusted relationship and whose extensive experience and expertise in biomass power plants will be crucial to this project being completed on schedule.”

The Bois Rouge plant consists of three generating units. Two units are already controlled by Emerson’s Ovation distributed control system, which will be modified for use with biomass feedstock, while the third unit will be replaced with a new Ovation system. The units will also be modernized with new turbine protection and health monitoring systems, safety systems for the boilers, and upgraded boiler control elements and instrumentation.

To ensure the project is completed within the available timeframe—a critical requirement of Albioma—Emerson will provide its Project Certainty methodologies, digital technology and software expertise. In addition to delivering local engineering support for the project, Emerson will provide its Remote Virtual Office (RVO) collaboration platform—a secure virtual engineering and testing environment that will enable Albioma to access Emerson’s resources and ongoing support to reduce project risk and costs.

“Emerson has a vital role to play in the global transition to a sustainable energy future by supporting customers in their conversion projects,” said Bob Yeager, president of Emerson’s power and water business. “Our automation technologies, software, solutions and biomass project expertise will help Albioma operate Bois Rouge at peak performance, while also benefiting the environment by achieving a very significant reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.”

Work on the transition project began during a planned outage in June 2022. It's already nearly complete, and is scheduled to be fully transitioned by next month as originally planned.