In the Hungarian city of Pécs, Veolia manages a wood and straw biomass plant that uses Christmas trees after holidays to generate heat and power. Christmas tree chips contribute to the generation of energy of one of the largest heating network of the country.

Every year, piles of Christmas trees abandoned after the holidays end up in dumps. This short-term but very large volume of waste cannot be composted. What can be done with these trees? In the city of Pécs, Hungary, the Pannonpower plant has found a solution to give them a second life and has organized their mass recycling since 2014. The abandoned Christmas trees are collected by the company Biokom (over 30 tons have been collected since 2014 every year). The Christmas trees are first crushed then mixed with other fuels to avoid combustion difficulties, given the amount of resin in the fir trees. In this agricultural region of Hungary, cereal crop byproducts are easy to find and to convert into energy. Biomass fuel, mostly straw and agricultural residues, are collected mostly within 100 km around the city and used within less than 5 days. Transportation and collection of biomass has created 170 permanent jobs.

The wood and straw biomass collected are used in a cogeneration plant, which is the largest in Central Europe, providing combined electricity and heating for the 150,000 people who live in Pécs, the capital of the region of Baranya. In fact, Veolia’s plant meets 60% of the city’s heat demand, i.e. 31,000 homes and 450 public buildings through the largest cogeneration heating network of the country.

The ash produced from the combustion, makes excellent fertilizer and provides bio-nutrients for the soil. It returns to feed the earth with the potassium, magnesium and phosphorus it contains: nature returning to nature. Finally, using agricultural by-products to supply the boiler has made it possible to reduce the gas consumption necessary for the operation of the plant to a minimum, thus avoiding the emission of 400,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.

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