„Central European Biomass Conference“ took place on 26 - 29 January 2005 in Austrian Graz. The conference was organised under the patronage of Josef Pröll, Minister of Agriculture and Woodland, Management of environment and water in Austria. There were over 600 participants in the conference from all of Europe with number of participants from CEE countries - Slovakia, Czech, Hungary and Poland.
The conference started with daylong excursions in the region of south-eastern Austria, where very nice projects of biomass utilization were introduced to participants. They visited factory, which annual production is 51 000 tons of pellets, central boiler room for wood pellets that heats small town Mureck, generation of bio-oil and exactly new project making use of biogas for electricity and heat production from excrements of agricultural animals. Very interesting was a project of cooling the wine by using solar collectors and biomass energy.
In next days conference was accompanied by exposition of a large number of products that use biomass for heating, heating pools, electricity production and very broad range of producers the wood pellets boilers. It is the most modern, expansive development sector in Austria, which has created a few thousands jobs during the ten years. Nowadays the most of the new boilers and reconstructed boiler rooms are made in Austria just for pellets use, because this heating is cheaper than using natural gas, oil, bottled gas or electricity.
Experts from Austria, Germany, Denmark or Finland presented present state of biomass utilization, the most modern technologies or a lot of regional conceptions which are being and which are interested in utilization of local energy sources, local raw materials, what markedly contributes for strengthening of local economies. Producers of technologies introduced the most modern technologies for biomass utilization.
Delegates of each CEE country introduced also their projects, their conceptions and concrete experiences. Jozef Soltes from the Slovak Energy Agency and Jozef Viglasky from Technical University in Zvolen represented through their reports Slovakia. Both presented the projects of biomass utilization in Slovakia – in Zvolen, Rajec, Dobšiná and the latest big boiler in Nová Dubnica.
Closing day was dedicated to strategy and global questions. The country strategies were introduced by Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovenia and Slovakia. Slovak Minister of Environment was represented by Ladislav Zidek, Project manager of BIOMASA Association, the implementation agency for biomass utilization. He introduced purposes of Slovakia in wood chips utilization, especially after calamity in High Tatras, which intensified the discussions about biomass utilization, mainly in bigger boiler rooms. He introduced also the biggest project of biomass utilization in Slovakia by BIOMASA Association, and the pellet plant in Kysuce, built within this project. Nowadays the new plant has already supplied 12 boiler rooms and delivered pellets for other interested persons. In 2005, Association plans to build another 32 boiler rooms in the whole Slovakia.
At the end of the conference, Minister Pröll introduced a highly developed system of biomass utilization in Austria, clear conception and uniquely documented positive results and impacts on the total Austrian economy. Although biomass covers in Austria 13 % of total heat production (in Slovakia barely 1 %), its goal is to double its utilization by 2010.