Logo - CCME
Digital Issue - CCME

Biomass energy – back to basics

Calling it the future of energy, George A Kenich, CEO of Anagenesis Ecosystems Innovations, makes a case for biomass energy and exemplifies how it can meet the region’s sustainable power demands.

| | Oct 2, 2016 | 10:57 pm
Share this story
George Kenich

George Kenich

Ruing the insufficient attention often given to biomass energy, George A Kenich of Anagenesis Ecosystems Innovations (AEI) has set for himself the task of raising awareness about it and stressing, as he says, “the need to deal with the crosscutting problems and opportunities associated with the biomass sector for the UAE”, which he believes is crucial.

Growing energy
Biomass, simply put, is organic matter used as fuel, especially for the generation of electricity, with plant material like dried vegetation, animal waste, wood products, crop residues, as also garbage constituting the source for biomass energy.

‘Magic tree’

AEI reveals that it has developed, over a 17-year period, the Anagenesis Trifolia tree through a breeding process involving various tree species within the Scrophulariaceae family, “with no genetic modification or artificial manipulation”. The company claims that the patented “fastest growing, regenerating and pollution-clearing ‘magic tree’ is fire-resistant, drought-and cold-tolerant and suitable for hard environments with minimum water requirements”. The company adds, “In a short time, the trees will be produced in our new laboratory with UAEU in Al Ain.”

According to an article in the site Union of Concerned Scientists, “Biomass is a renewable energy source not only because the energy in it comes from the sun but also because biomass can re-grow over a relatively short period of time compared with the hundreds of millions of years that it took for fossil fuels to form.” This is because “through the process of photosynthesis, chlorophyll in plants captures the sun’s energy by converting carbon dioxide from the air and water from the ground into carbohydrates…. When these carbohydrates are burned, they turn back into carbon dioxide and water and release the energy they captured from the sun¹.”

“Biomass energy,” says Kenich “has rapidly become a vital part of the global renewable energy mix, and accounts for an ever-growing share of electric capacity added worldwide.” Some of the recent predictions, he adds, “suggest that biomass energy is likely to make up more than one-third of the total world energy mix by 2050”. He claims that this is because biomass is one of the most cost-effective renewable energy sources and “has lower grid-level cost”.

Some of the recent predictions suggest that biomass energy is likely to make up more than one-third of the total world energy mix by 2050

Time to tap the potential
Despite this, and despite the fact that the cost of biomass power generation in Europe and in the Middle East is less than the cost of wind, solar PV and thermal energy, Kenich believes that this great source of energy has not received the attention it deserves and, therefore, not been tapped to its fullest potential. In fact, for most people, what comes to mind when they think of renewable energy is the wind and the sun. “But biomass… is the oldest source of renewable energy used since our ancestors learned the secret of fire¹”.

The lack of attention could be because of lack of awareness, posits Kenich, saying: “In the UAE, we can have cost per kWh with less than 10 Fils/kWh. This is one of the lowest price per kWh worldwide.” He claims that the lifespan of a biomass power plant “is 40 years, while solar is only 25”.

Making the desert bloom

AEI has purportedly put forward a proposal for the new Desert Rose Development initiated by the Dubai Municipality. Following are the highlights: “The project proposal is to plant 510,000 Anagenesis magic trees. These trees will provide a continuous and sustainable yield of wood biomass on a daily basis for a stable year-round renewable energy that exceeds the most stringent emissions targets. The project is expected to eventually cover 300Ha in the Green Belt, creating a liveable and recreational environment. The continuous and sustainable supply of the high-thermal biomass (and/or solid waste- MSW) are capable of producing 96,720 mWh annually, of clean, green electrical energy via the gasification biomass power plant. The power produced is enough for a minimum of 2,600 villas or 8,000 apartments or a combination of villas and apartments, totalling 8,611,000 square feet in the Desert Rose Development.

He further claims that AEI, an R&D company based in Masdar City, Abu Dhabi, was founded with the avowed goal of popularising biomass energy, “dealing with the new generation of zero emissions and zero waste biomass power plants, with biomass made in the UAE in coordination with the United Arab Emirates University (UAEU). “AEI Ltd has signed an MoU with the UAEU on November 25, 2015,” he says, “and a ‘Strategic Operation Agreement’ for cooperation” in R&D in renewable energy, energy efficiency and energy studies laboratories.

Bridging the technology gap in Green Energy
He highlights that biomass produced in the UAE will convert desert wastelands into a natural resource ethos, contribute to the local economy and create a healthier and sustainable environment.

He reveals that the company is using new generation CHPC tri-generation gasification power plants to convert high-thermal biomass and/or garbage, solid waste and Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) into a synthesis gas, which is ignited to generate electricity with a closed-loop system, with no emissions and no waste for heating and cooling.

Kenich’s company claims that biomass energy will:

• Support the UAE energy diversification and energy mix strategy
• Reduce the carbon footprint
• Promote sustainability and preserve the Earth’s natural resources by using renewable resources in electricity generation
• Contribute to improving the technology used for electricity generation
• Develop the UAE’s expertise in the field of renewable energy
• Increase awareness about climate change and sustainable energy
• Improve air quality by increasing the level of oxygen and reducing CO2, greenhouse gas and dust
• Support the UAE’s vision for energy, water and food security

In light of the above, Kenich believes that biomass is the key to change the UAE’s “environment and energy map”.


  1. ‘How Biopower Works’ in Union of Concerned Scientists: http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_energy/our-energy-choices/renewable-energy/how-biomass-energy-works.html#.V8KPBZh97b0)

(The writer is the Associate Editor of Climate Control Middle East.)

Share this story

Feedback for this story

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *