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Living matter energy

Biomass

Biomass is biological material of vegetable or animal origin that can be used to produce electricity, heat or fuel.
One example is wood, which is readily available but inefficiently used. The potential to recycle and re-use organic or domestic waste has also been largely underestimated. In recent years, however, debate around the petrol crisis has brought these alternative energies to the forefront, and they are now considered a key part of energy policies around the world.

A second life for a forest

Wood is one of the key sources of biomass, accounting for some 14% of the world's energy consumption. As well as being burnt as firewood and turned into coal, wood can now undergo sophisticated transformation processes to harness its full energy potential.
Wood granules or pellets are made from highly compressed sawdust or chippings. A mere1m3 of granules has the same calorific value as 320 litres of fuel oil.
Much like timber obtained from deconstruction, used wood is yet another type of wood and demands a more sophisticated treatment process than traditional wood sources.

The benefits of biogas

Biogas is produced by breaking down organic waste with bacteria. It's a fermentation process that affects all organic matter in nature (swamps, compost heaps, forests) and also occurs in landfill sites with organic waste.
When it happens in a controlled environment, biomass decay produces natural gas and a residue that can be used as a fertiliser. This gas can then be used to power a turbine that produces electricity and heat or it can be used directly in gas-powered cars.

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Pôle Bio

Most of Geneva’s green waste is upcycled at the Châtillon methanisation site in Bernex. The biogas produced here is then used to generate biomass electricity. In an area like Geneva, it is impossible to upcycle waste in isolation. So in 2011, we founded Pôle Bio with two companies specialising in the collection and treatment of waste (Serbeco and Helvetia Environnement). The aim of this partnership is to generate 72 GWh of thermal energy by 2014. Thanks to our knowledge of the energy and district heating industries, we have made this project a success.

Biomass energy in numbers