$212m Irish biomass CHP plant project founders

A liquidator has been appointed after a rescue plan for Ireland’s biggest independent biomass power plant failed.

The $212m 42.5 MW biomass high efficiency combined heat and power (CHP) plant located on the former Asahi site in Killala, Co. Mayo, western Ireland had initially sought court protection from its creditors under examinership in August.

The Irish Times reported that it had been hoped investment could be secured to continue the construction but, despite efforts to secure an investor, it was clear as of last Friday a number of parties which had expressed an interest were no longer interested.

US-backed Mayo Renewable, which was officially launched last year by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, saw the project half-completed when work ceased in July when funding ran out.

€90 million had already been spent on the development, through the Irish company’s parent, US-registered Rockland Mayo LLC.

All told, Mayo Renewable has about €95 million of secured debt and a further €30 million to trade creditors. These include its main contractor, John Sisk & Son, and French environmental services group Veolia, which had secured a 15-year contract to operate the plant, capable of producing enough electricity to supply 68,000 homes.

The firm’s financial difficulties commenced last year when it cancelled an order to design and supply a boiler, a critical component in the plant, from a supplier, the court heard previously.

Amsterdam aims for district heating future

Amsterdam is aiming to end its reliance on natural gas by 2050, replacing it with various forms of district heating.

CityLab website reports that the city authorities have already begun to implement their objective with 10,000 new public housing units this week having their gas supplies removed, with various district heating options taking its place.

By 2020, 102,000 Amsterdam homes will have switched from heat created in their homes to heat created at a central facility and supplied by a pipeline, saving considerable energy in the long run by creating a single generating point where fuel is burned. This creates efficiencies of scale that ultimately make the same amount of fuel go further.

It also makes for lower emissions and the city is engaging with various agents to utilise waste heat from industry as a solution. Already, 70,000 of the city’s homes are warmed with water heated at a central waste incinerator. The plan is to roll this concept out further to tap into other sources of waste heat.

In addition heat pumps are being planned for new homes on new artificial islands along with solar water heaters.

The Netherlands are, according to CityLab, motivated by the need to retain energy independence from Russian gas, as well as the problems caused to building structures by domestic gas extraction


Finland’s new energy strategy to encourage CHP

The Finnish government has approved a new national Energy and Climate Strategy, which aims to use combined heat and power among a series of other measures aimed at meeting the countries domestic and EU climate targets by 2030.

Bioenergy News reports that the government wants to use tax on energy production to encourage combined heat and power (CHP) generation and the use of forestry products in heating, and the current support system on woodchip-based electricity will be maintained at least until 2018.

The strategy recognises the increased production and use of biogas, alongside with the developing domestic business around biogas.

The government has set a goal to have the share of renewables in the Finnish energy pool surpass 50% during the 2020s, with a long-term goal of reaching carbon neutrality.

Subsidies for investment will be targeted primarily at commercialising new technology and at the burden-sharing sector, with a focus on advanced biofuel facilities.

Additional support will also be given to advancing the utilisation of agricultural, municipal, and industrial waste and side streams in heat and electricity production.


UK decentralized energy body welcomes government budget announcement

The Association for Decentralised Energy and the Association for the Conservation of Energy have welcomed the UK government’s Autumn Statement economic paper, which has a focus on improving the country’s productivity.

The ADE’s director, Dr Tim Rotheray says that focus is in line with his organisation’s call to improve the UK’s overall energy productivity, which has been lagging behind other European nations.

Chancellor Philip Hammond’s announced a £23 billion Productivity Investment Fund as part of the Autumn Statement.

More than two thirds of the fund has already been assigned to housing, communications, transport and research and development. A further £1.8 billion has been provided for local authorities to make productivity infrastructure investments.

Mr Rotheray said, “Improving energy productivity should be an integral part of both the Productivity Investment Fund and the new money for the Local Growth Fund. The remaining third of the funding that is yet unassigned should be dedicated to seizing the energy productivity opportunity.

“As our 2016 Energy Productivity Audit showed, the UK economy produced £193bn more in goods and services over the past five years using the same amount of energy, supported by energy efficiency investments by the industrial, services and domestic sectors. By making energy part of their productivity ambitions, the Chancellor will only drive further economic success.”

Association for the Conservation of Energy CEO Dr Joanne Wade said: “The evidence clearly shows that investments in energy efficiency deliver impressive productivity results for the UK economy, with our recent energy productivity audit showing the country producing billions of pounds more every year for the same amount of energy.”

The Audit was jointly published last week by a group of nine organisations, including industrial manufacturers and leading environmental groups such as Greenpeace; these organisations united in a shared vision to create a more efficient, competitive, low carbon Britain through a common purpose to cut energy waste.
Download the Audit here.
Led by the Association for Decentralised Energy, the Audit shows that the industrial, services and domestic sectors have saved enough energy to heat 13 million homes and improved productivity to the tune of £1.7 billion for every million tonnes of oil equivalent between 2010 and 2015.

Yet, despite the UK’s energy bill topping a staggering £140 billion in 2015, the equivalent of 7.6% of the economy, the efficiency of electricity supply has remained broadly unchanged, improving only 2 percentage points in the last 5 years.

The ADE added that analysis of government data shows the UK is not on track to meet its 2030 Carbon Budgets, making that failure in an energy efficient context all the more acute. Current renewable energy and energy efficiency policies are only able to take the UK around half way towards the cost effective path to decarbonisation, leaving a significant policy gap.


American Samoan island powered by solar-storage microgrid

An island that forms part of American Samoa is now being powered almost exclusively by a solar-storage microgrid.

Tesla and its newly acquired SolarCity have used a combination of solar power and a battery storage-enabled micrgrid to achieve the feat.

The island of Ta’u located more than 4,000 miles from the U.S. West Coast had long-suffered power rationing and outages. However, the island is now powered by clean-energy, SolarCity said in a post about its latest project with Tesla.

The microgrid consists of a 1.4 megawatt solar array and 6 megawatt hours of battery storage from 60 Tesla Powerpacks. The project was completed within a year.

The microgrid replaces the more than 109,500 gallons of diesel the remote island imported every year to power generators and would be more reliable, likely eliminating the need for power rationing.


Kiel cogeneration plant a ‘flagship of Energiewende’

Stadtwerke Kiel has approved the go-ahead for what is being touted as Germany’s most flexible power plant.

The 190 MW gas-fired cogeneration plant in Kiel is being hailed as a flagship power project for Germany’s Energiewende or energy transition.

Incentives provided by Germany’s Combined Heat and Power Act for the economic viability of the second phase of the gas-powered cogeneration facility played a significant role in facilitating the plant. Following a legal examination of subsidies available on behalf of the European Union commission, the 2016 subsidy rate of the Act was finalized at the end of October 2016 and will now provide the final foundational planning security for the project.

The plant has a total efficiency of 90 per cent, setting new standards in that measurement, while reducing environmental impact. With Enhanced Operational Flexibility, 20 of GE’s Jenbacher J920 FleXtra Gas Engines will provide 190 MW of power and complement renewable energy sources.

For GE’s Distributed Power in Jenbach, which collaborates with the general contractor Kraftanlagen München (KAM), this is the largest contract in company history.

“Our K.I.E.L. coastal power plant represents Kiel’s intelligent energy solution, which allows us to ensure the supply of district heating in Kiel and to make an important contribution to both the energy transition plan and to environmental protection,” said Chairman of the Management Board Frank Meier, Stadwerke Kiel.

The GE Jenbacher J920 FleXtra gas engines provide the heart of the combined heat and power (CHP) plant on the east bank of the Kieler Förde inlet. The gas power facility will emit around 70 per cent less carbon dioxide than the previous coal-fired power plant.

According to plan, the city of Kiel’s gas-powered cogeneration facility will provide district heating and electric power as early as fall of 2018.


£1.7bn boost indicates untapped potential of UK energy efficiency

The UK government is being urged to capitalise on the potential of energy efficiency technologies after analysis performed between 2010 and 15 showed significant benefits for the economy.

According to the 2016 UK Energy Productivity Audit, the productivity of the UK economy rose by £1.7 billion between 2010 and 2015 as a result of industrial, services and domestic sector energy efficiency investments.

The data compiled and published by a coalition of nine organisations, including industrial manufacturers and leading environmental groups such as Greenpeace, was released ahead of the launch of the Government’s discussion paper on its Industrial Strategy.

Led by the Association for Decentralised Energy, the Audit shows that the industrial, services and domestic sectors have saved enough energy to heat 13 million homes and improved productivity to the tune of £1.7 billion between 2010 and 2015.

The audit found that European neighbours, including Germany, the Netherlands and Austria have left the UK behind in terms of the strength of their respective energy efficiency policies.

That’s demonstrated by looking at the UK’s energy bill, which topped a staggering £140 billion in 2015, the equivalent of 7.6% of the economy – the efficiency of electricity supply has remained broadly unchanged during that ime, improving only 2 percentage points.

In addition current renewable energy and energy efficiency policies are only able to take the UK around half way towards the cost effective path to decarbonisation.

The Audit concludes that far more significant energy productivity improvements are needed to deliver our long-term climate goals with lowest ecological risk while also supporting economic growth and competition.

Commenting on the Audit ADE Director Dr Tim Rotheray said: “Like labour, energy is a vital input to the UK economy. Improving our energy productivity allows us to use the same or less energy to contribute more.

“Despite limited policy focus, the industrial, services and domestic sectors have made substantial energy efficiency gains yet over 60% of energy in the power sector is lost before it reaches homes and businesses.

“With our commitment to the Paris Agreements and Carbon Budgets, the UK is poised to create a low-carbon, competitive economy, but we must support energy productivity to meet these goals.

“The Industrial Strategy provides a key opportunity to implement the right policies that will not only support business competitiveness, but drive energy productivity in the UK economy and help us meet our carbon goals.”
Meanwhile Andrew Large, CPI Director General added to the call for greater diligence in the area, saying, “We need to be helping industrial energy users to invest in their long-term productivity, allowing them to deliver increased value for the UK economy for many years to come.”

“Instead, energy users are facing ever-increasing costs, as carbon taxes and electricity prices rise. We cannot allow more industry to move to other countries because our energy costs remain uncompetitive.”

The energy productivity agenda brought together diverse interests behind a common approach, and is supported by organisations from across the energy system. Participants included environmental advocates to large-scale industrial energy users to building service providers, all in agreement on the opportunity energy productivity provides to create jobs, reduce costs, and help the environment.

Also included in the collective are the Association for the Conservation of Energy, Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers,    Confederation of Paper Industries, Energy Institute, Energy Services and Technology Association, Greenpeace and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

Denmark optimistic about green challenge in Trump era

The Danish government believes its ‘newly acquired green export foothold’ in the US is not necessarily threatened by the election of Donald Trump, despite campaign pronouncements on green energy.

The Copenhagen Post reports that the US have focused on Danish green tech solutions in recent years and believes its expertise in district heating and wind energy will continue to be sought after.

“There is little doubt that Danish green companies will face new challenges in the US,” Jakob Andersen, the consul general in Chicago, told the newspaper.
US-Denmark flag
“But when that is all said and done, we still expect a stable demand for Danish solutions within green energy. That many Danish companies have done well within sustainable energy until now is primarily down to the green ambitions of individual states, and not due to the ambitious climate policy at a federal level.”

According to Jakob Bjerregaard, the head of the Decentralized Energy Advisory (DEA), which is under the umbrella of the Danish Trade Council in Washington, district heating will remain strong.

“Basically, all of our projects and activities associated with district heating are not influenced by policy at a federal level,” said Bjerregaard.

“So we won’t see already-established district heating projects impacted, and the same goes for projects involving bio-fuel, as there is also not much federal involvement there.”


Biogas CHP saves for Philippine food firm

A waste-to-energy combined heat and power (CHP) project in the Philippines has realized substantial power and fuel savings after a year of operation, developer GE says.

The 2.8 MW plant, which came online in 2015, serves a pineapple cannery operated by food conglomerate Del Monte Philippines Inc in the city of Cagayan de Oro. Its two GE Jenbacher J420 gas engines run on biogas gleaned from treated wastewater from the pineapple production process.

The CHP plant powers the operations of the cannery and the processing plant, using the excess heat to power the boiler.

In addition to reducing its reliance on the national grid, the plant has saved Del Monte 25% in annual power consumption and 9% in annual fuel costs, as well as reducing production costs, waste and carbon emissions, GE said.

‘As our demands for reliable and secure electricity continue to grow, we considered ways to generate on-site power that would fit into the region’s strategy to reduce the carbon footprint in the Philippines while also supporting our growing investment and employment in the country,’ said Francisco T Molas, Del Monte Philippines group head for Mindanao operations.

‘The anaerobic treatment is an excellent alternative to existing aerobic systems,’ he added. ‘We can turn our biowaste into biogas to produce on-site power and heat for the cannery.’



UK trade groups launch biomass heat campaign

Two UK trade groups are making the case for biomass in the government’s plan to fund renewable heating technologies.

The Renewable Energy Association (REA) and the Wood Heat Association (WHA) have joined forces to urge the government to prioritize the decarbonization of heat and to support the continued use of biomass.

The government is currently making policy decisions on how renewable heating technologies will be funded to 2021 and Frank Aaskov, an analyst with the WHA, said the groups are ‘urging them to remember biomass as a force for good’.

To date, 56% of UK residential heating and 81% of non-residential heating generated under the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) has come from biomass, the groups said.

Aaskov added: ‘We are launching a campaign and a new video designed to emphasize that wood heat in the UK is an affordable and sustainable way to decarbonize our heat sector, particularly in rural or off-gas grid properties.’

The biomass heat sector reduces net carbon emissions by 87.5% compared to the EU Fossil Heat Average, the two groups said. 

The video campaign may be found here