Graanul Invest, Europe's biggest wood pellets producer, announced a year ago that it had acquired one of Belgium's biggest coal plants and was planning to convert it to burn wood pellets instead. The investment amounted to €250 million, with the Belgian state pledging €2.2 billion in support in the long term. Now the project has reportedly failed.
Weekly Eesti Ekspress wrote on Wednesday that according to Belgian media, Graanul Invest has run out of time. Because they couldn't make a deadline and the local energy agency had not agreed to an extension, the project had now lost support, and with it was no longer economically feasible. According to earlier statements by Graanul Invest, the Langerlo power plant's conversion from coal to wood pellets could count on financial support by the Belgian state of up to €2.2 billion in the long term. The conversion works were scheduled to be completed by autumn 2018.
Owner and CEO of Graanul Invest, Paul Kirjanen, said that there was a provision in the sales contract that specified that the new owner could return the property if a flaw was found in the project they hadn't been told about leading up to the deal. "And that's what we did. Bankruptcy proceedings have been announced for the company, but the liquidators are continuing the fight over the company's fate. How it's all going to end is difficult to say. That's why we're not dealing with the further development of the project anymore," Kirjanen told Ekspress.
According to the paper, the failure of the project is a victory for environmentalists that no longer consider burning wood sustainable. At its full power, Langerlo would have reached 656 MW, supplying more than six million residents of Flanders with electricity by burning 1.8 million tons of wood pellets, imported mainly from the United States.
Editor: Dario Cavegn