At Zabala Innovation we add value to the Bio-FlexGen project by integrating social innovation and proposing strategies for the exploitation of its results
The European Green Deal pledges to achieve a net-zero energy system by 2050, through increased ambition in energy efficiency, system integration, and renewable energy. This is why the Bio-FlexGen project proposes a new solution using two renewable energy sources: green hydrogen from variable renewables and biomass.
Get a closer look at the Bio-FlexGen Project
During the three-year life of the project (2021-2024), Bio-FlexGen engineers will develop a unique combined heat and power (CHP) plant. The system will provide hourly, daily and seasonal flexibility. Hourly flexibility is achieved by rapidly starting up with green hydrogen when energy is needed. Seasonal flexibility is achieved by producing hydrogen from biomass when there is a low demand for heat. With this safe and flexible approach, Bio-FlexGen will enable greater amounts of intermittent solar and wind power to be integrated into the energy system.
For project coordinator Susanne Paulrud of the Swedish Research Institutes, this novel approach makes a big difference: “Thanks to its higher level of flexibility and efficiency, Bio-FlexGen cogeneration can use four different operating modes. This optimises the production of different products, such as heat, electricity, hydrogen and biogenic CO2, depending on market fluctuations”.
What is our role in Zabala Innovation?
At Zabala Innovation we are working to obtain a methodology that can measure the social impact of this technology, “which will allow us to identify and manage potential risks at a social level and increase the value of the project for society in general”, explains Leire Martiarena, leader of the social innovation knowledge area.
Before implementing the project, a study of environmental impacts was carried out, but “it is essential to measure the social impacts,” Martiarena stresses because the social impact is linked to the stakeholders surrounding the project, which is why it has been essential to work on identifying these groups to involve them throughout the project’s implementation.
In addition, the expert also stresses that they analyse “the impact of the new technology, but also that of the entire value chain”, because it is very important to measure the social impact, for example, from the place where the raw material or energy source is collected, as it has not been produced specifically to generate energy, but will seek to revalue waste from other existing activities or industries. This leads to the conclusion that this project can help to reactivate the local economy and make better use of the resources that exist at the organic level.
Leire Martiarena also mentioned what they consider to be the main social benefits of implementing this new technology in the medium and long term, at least in terms of impact: reducing energy poverty, ensuring access to energy, improving the local economy, and generating more qualified jobs.
Bio-FlexGen towards a circular economy
Bio-FlexGen uses biomass to generate electricity from waste streams, such as wood waste that often ends up in the rubbish, but thanks to the project, they claim that waste streams can be used to generate electricity at low cost, allowing fewer fossil fuels to be used.
For Gustav Melin, former president of Bioenergy Europe and partner of Bio-FlexGen, “this type of energy is available everywhere, plants grow all over the world, so anyone with land can grow biomass for energy”.