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Voltalia (Euronext Paris, ISIN code: FR0011995588), an international player in renewable energy, continues its commitment to produce affordable renewable energy and work to preserve the planet's resources.
For the past 10 years, the Kourou power plant has been burning waste from Guyana´s sawmills, carpentry companies and urban and industrial land clearing in order to locally produce renewable electricity. In 2020, 94.4% of the wood used at the Kourou power plant was certified by the Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). Voltalia has been asking its Kourou plant suppliers since 2019 to comply with PEFC standards.
The Kourou biomass plant was the first French overseas power plant operating 100% on biomass to obtain this type of certification.
PEFC is a non-profit, non-governmental organization. With 330 million hectares of certified forest, PEFC is the world's largest forest certifier. Its certification criteria take into account the environmental, social and economic aspects of sustainable forest management.
Voltalia confirms its environmental and social commitment, particularly within the Guyanese biomass sector where Voltalia commissioned a second biomass plant at the end of 2020, located in Cacao, while developing several future similar plants in the region. As the leading private player in the sector in Guyana, Voltalia also produces solar and hydraulic electricity there.
Biomass in French Guyana
Thanks to its abundant forest resources, French Guyana has a strong potential for producing electricity from biomass. This non-intermittent source of energy is highly beneficial for a region that suffers from significant electricity supply deficits. Voltalia is a major player in the wood energy sector in French Guiana, with more than 20 megawatts of installed biomass capacity by 2023. In addition to the Kourou plant (1.7 megawatts), which has been in operation for 10 years, the Cacao plant (5.1 megawatts) began operating in December 2020. They will be followed by the future Sinnamary (10.6 megawatts) and Iracoubo (5.1 megawatts) power plants, which are currently being developed. Voltalia's ambition is to meet the objectives of the French Guyana's PPE (Pluriannual Energy Programme), namely the massive integration of renewable energies, including 40 megawatts of installed biomass capacity by 2023, and the region's energy autonomy by 2030 in order to replace conventional thermal power plants that are highly polluting and dependent on fossil fuel imports.
Biomass technology contributes to a virtuous environmental cycle by producing energy from sawmill waste, land clearing related to other activities (housing, urban, industrial or agricultural development included in the development plan of the Guyana…), recycled wood (end-of-life pallets…) or logging from sustainably managed forests. Their combustion in a boiler makes it possible to control the emission of harmful particles, unlike traditional burning techniques in the open air (more than 99% of fine particles are retained in the filtration systems). At the end of the cycle, the ash produced by the combustion can be applied to fields as a soil amendment improving soil acidity and providing some of the phosphorus requirement, thus replacing chemicals with the same properties. The development of the wood-energy sector has many positive consequences at the regional level, promoting sustainable and integrated growth.
First of all, it helps to structure and economically strengthen the associated sectors of logging and timber industry (income generated by fuelwood which can represent 10 to 20% of the turnover of companies concerned). It also creates local jobs related to the operation of power plants. Other actors benefit from positive side effects, such as the future farmers in the Iracoubo basin who, on the one hand, will supply the local food market and, on the other hand, will earn a stable basic income by cultivating energy crops in agroforestry systems for the Iracoubo power plant.
Furthermore, biomass encourages innovation in French Guyana. A major example of this dynamic is the deployment of Triton's activity (Triton is a company belonging to Voltalia since end of 2019) to exploit the submerged forest of the Petit-Saut hydroelectric reservoir in order to supply the future Sinnamary power plant. This will be the world's first biomass power plant to receive wood from a submerged forest, exploited with a niche technology. The implementation of Triton's innovative method (SHARC®) will bring diversification and prospects to French Guyana. It will also be associated with a virtuous biomass supply plan that respects the aquatic fauna of Petit-Saut. Indeed, until now, submerged logs stimulate the dissolution of mercury in water and their degradation in anoxic processes leads to carbon dioxide and methane emissions. Therefore, the extraction of the wood will have a direct positive impact on the lake ecosystem.
Next on the agenda: First half 2021 results, September 23, 2021 before market
About Voltalia (www.voltalia.com)
Voltalia is an international player in the renewable energy sector. The Group produces and sells electricity generated from wind, solar, hydraulic, biomass and storage facilities that it owns and operates. Voltalia has generating capacity in operation and under construction of more than 1.5 GW and a portfolio of projects under development representing total capacity of 9.7 GW.