Industrial symbiosis in the energy sector
Abstract for the Joint Action on Climate Changes conference, Aalborg 9-10 June 2009
By Tyge Kjær and Thomas Budde Christensen, Roskilde University
The concept of Industrial symbiosis was during the nineties by many researchers given key role in future industrial systems. The closed energy and material loops was believed to entail a promising way in which future industrial systems could be designed so that the environmental impact from industrial operations in theory could be close to zero.
The purpose of this paper is twofold: First to explore how complex energy systems fuelled by biomass and waste materials could be optimized using the philosophy behind the industrial symbiosis concept. And second to unfold the recent development of the industrial symbiosis concept and elaborates on how it could be further developed.
Uncertain supply of fossil fuel and worries over the environmental and social effects of green house gas emissions have lead companies and public authorities to focus on how the use of biomass for energy purposes can be optimized. This paper explores how the concept of industrial symbiosis can support and optimize the utilization biomass for energy purposes. The analysis is based on a system perspective where the entire value chain is taken into consideration.
The paper is based on a research project conducted in the region of Zealand in Denmark where different types of biomass utilization was examined – all based on the concept of industrial symbiosis.
The paper concludes that energy efficiency rates for energy generation based on biomass are closely dependent on the utilization of waste streams: in a simple system the utilization of co-generated heat and in more complex systems the utilization of all waste streams. The overall system efficiency of a complex system will only reach the highest efficiency if waste streams in all links of the biomass the value chains is utilized. The paper finally concludes that future energy systems are more likely to solve the expected future fossil fuel supply problems and meet the political objectives for increased implementation of renewable energy if the present centralized energy generation system based on coal fired power plants is substituted with at distributed energy system with a high quantity of multiple renewable energy sources.