Electrabel has secured a long term supply of wood pellets for its Belgian power plants through an investment in a Canadian manufacturer.

The Belgian utility has taken a minority interest in Pacific BioEnergy Cooperation in order to support the expansion of wood pellet production facilities in Prince George, British Colombia. The deal also includes a long-term purchase agreement for wood pellets.

Electrabel recently committed to increasing levels of renewable energy production in return for being allowed to extend the operating lives of its nuclear power plants in Belgium. It has invested EUR17 million in Pacific BioEnergy.

Under its long-term agreement, Electrabel will buy 225 000 tonnes of biomass per year for ten years. The pellets will be used mainly at Unit 4 of the Rodenhuize power plant, which is currently being converted for 100 per cent biomass firing.

In 2009, Electrabel used 1.1 million tonnes of biomass in its generating facilities in Belgium, avoiding the emission of 1.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) compared with coal-based production. The contract with Pacific BioEnergy will enable it to avoid the emission of 4 million tonnes of CO2, says Electrabel.

In 2008 Electrabel launched its sustainable development plan, pledging to develop its generating facilities to be able to supply green power to 1 million Belgian households by 2015.