Systems Analysis for a Sustainable Biomass Utilization in Chile (ChilNaNuKo)



As Chile is heavily dependent on imports of crude oil and natural gas, there is an increasing interest in renewable sources of energy. Given the importance of forestry and agriculture, particularly in the south of the country, energy from biomass is a promising option to diversify the Chilean energy matrix.

Agricultural production as well as forestry operations involve the production of biogenic residues (e.g. straw or forest residues) which frequently remain at the harvesting site without further utilization. Tapping this potential could help to reduce the dependency on energy imports and create value in rural areas.

In order to utilize these biomass resources in a sustainable way, politics, industry, science and the general public must be provided with comprehensive knowledge and methodological competence. It is important, therefore, that the assessment takes into account the regional framework conditions. This includes the availability of biomass resources, capital requirements and infrastructure as well as the suitability of technologies with respect to the local context.

Biomass resources in Chile are highly dispersed along the territory and must be transported over long distances to produce electricity or heat. Given the low calorific value of residual biomass, collection and transportation costs represent a serious challenge. Therefore, decentralized pre-treatment and densification technologies should be considered as an alternative to established utilization paths (e.g. direct combustion). With pre-treatment technologies such as torrefaction or pyrolysis, physical properties such as bulk density and the calorific value can be improved in order to overcome logistical problems.


It is the aim of this project to provide an assessment of feasible value chains as well as to share the results with the scientific community and relevant stakeholder groups. To this end, this project builds on results of a previous study (grant number 01DN13027).

Deriving regional utilization concepts requires an integrated approach to analyze, evaluate and optimize the different value chains of the respective region. Biomass resources as well as conversion processes must be modelled and assessed. This provides the framework in which different utilization concepts can be evaluated using a supply chain planning model. The planning model is formulated as a mixed integer linear programming model which minimizes the total cost of the entire supply chain from the recovery of forest residues to the distribution of final products. It particularly accounts for relevant factors and framework conditions identified in the previous project. For instance, this includes train transportation of bioenergy carriers and the supply of residues from the woodworking industry.

In addition, the project comprises different dissemination activities. First, the project work itself offers the opportunity to strengthen the collaboration of the established systems analysis expert groupt consisting of KIT, UACh and UDT. Second, the project partners will participate in a workshop on the subject of the sustainable use of biomass in Chile. The workshop is a part of the complementary activities of the 4th Latin American Congress on Biorefineries taking place in Concepción on 23-25 November 2015:


Workshop on Sustainable Use of Biomass in Chile

The workshop aims at presenting the project results to the scientific community and getting in touch with stakeholders interested in the activities of the systems analysis expert group. Furthermore, the workshop is a platform for further scientific exchange with the purpose of generating ideas for new projects fostering the existing collaboration.