Singapore microgrid project could be significant for Asia

The Renewable Energy Integration Demonstrator – Singapore (REIDS) is the largest hybrid microgrid test and research platform in the tropics.

Launched by the Nanyang Technological University Singapore (NTU), supported by the country’s Economic Development Board (EDB) and National Environment Agency (NEA), REIDS aims to study, and demonstrate the ability to achieve sustainable, affordable energy access to all parts of Southeast Asia.

The REIDS initiative will serve as a model for the planning, deployment, and operation of physical microgrids tapping into the renewable potential in the region. The project will also showcase how microgrids can better serve the energy needs of communities from a societal, economic and market development viewpoints.

GE website reports that of the 625 million people living in Southeast Asia, about 125 million lack of access to modern energy service. Countries such as Indonesia (17,500 islands), and Philippines (7,000 islands) have major challenges to provide electricity to communities living on remote islands.

Geographical factors make it technologically, and financially, unrealistic to connect them to integrated grids as used in in North America and Europe. Most of them rely on diesel generation for their energy supply – diesel however, is considered one of the largest contributors to environmental pollution worldwide.

A better solution would be the integration of local energy resources with existing diesel generation, to provide much-needed electricity in a more affordable, sustainable manner, while reducing reliance on diesel.

In the context of REIDS, NTU and GE Energy Connections’ Grid Solutions business have jointly developed a MicroGrid Power Mix Management solution that has the capability of managing power exchanges within a microgrid, whether it is separated or connected to the main grid. This solution is essential to ensure the smooth, safe switch from renewable energy, to energy storage systems, or fossil fuel – when needed – to maintain a stable supply of electricity.

The REIDS project aims to demonstrate the ability to manage a new energy mix based on a high penetration of renewable sources, combining solar, wind, diesel, and gas technologies in an off-the-grid network.

This environment also serves as the perfect platform to test energy storage, renewable energy production – onshore, offshore, and end-use technologies to industrial, commercial and residential loads. Energy produced from these renewable sources powers the landfill operations on Semakau.

The initial phase of the REIDS project has been completed with the first microgrid system up and running. The remaining two phases will reach completion in the upcoming months. Roch Drozdowski-Strehl, REIDS Deputy Director at NTU, said: “Once all microgrids are online, REIDS will further study the interoperability of different generations of energy management systems.

“Of particular interest to NTU is the concept of ‘mesogrids’ where multiple microgrids are able to interface with each other to achieve increased overall performance. By setting up a small-scale flexible desalination facility on Semakau Landfill, NTU is also looking into opportunities and technical solutions to address simultaneously poor access to water and energy.”

*This article originally appeared on GE’s website

UK district heating plant in $190m refinancing

A district heating plant in the UK has secured £150m ($193m) in what one investor says is the largest institutional-only financing deal in the country’s biomass sector to date.

The 40 MWe biomass-fired combined heat and power (CHP) Sleaford Renewable Energy Plant (pictured) in Lincolnshire came online in 2014 and is operated by Burmeister & Wain Scandinavian Contractor (BWSC).
As a "good quality CHP plant", the plant benefits from two Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs) under the UK’s renewable energy scheme, providing heat to the local community for free under long-term offtake contracts.
The proceeds from the financing repaid a project financing, said Glennmont Partners, one of Europe’s largest clean energy infrastructure investment funds which successfully completed the refinancing.
The firm added that the £150m financing “has been placed to a large European institutional investor”.
Joost Bergsma, CEO of Glennmont Partners, said his company was “delighted to be completing one of the largest biomass transactions of 2017 for £150m.
“This transaction further highlights that biomass is a highly efficient renewable energy technology capable of attracting significant amounts of long-term, competitive institutional capital. The refinancing complements our strategy of building portfolios of renewable projects diversified by both geography and technology in order to provide predictable returns to investors.” 

Ashley Energy acquires St Louis CHP plant

Ashley Energy has acquired the historic Ashley heat and power plant located in downtown St. Louis from Trigen-St. Louis Energy Corporation, a subsidiary of Veolia North America.

Following the acquisition, Ashley has entered into a new 20-year agreement with the City of St. Louis’ Solid Waste Management and Development Corporation ("SWMDC") to operate the St. Louis district energy system and supply reliable green energy to nearly 70 buildings, hotels, sports venues and businesses in the downtown business district.  The terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Originally built in 1904 by the predecessor to Ameren Missouri Electric, the Ashley plant was originally configured as a coal-fired power plant. It was later converted to an oil-fired plant, and subsequently overhauled and developed as a natural gas-fired cogeneration facility that simultaneously generates both steam heat and electricity.

The electricity is sold into the wholesale power grid, and the steam is distributed to buildings through 17+ miles of piping that runs underneath the downtown St. Louis central business district.

"The St. Louis district energy system has reliably heated many of the city’s landmark buildings and businesses for over a century," said Mason Miller, President of Ashley Energy.

"Hand in hand, in close partnership with the City of St. Louis, Ashley Energy will build upon the more than $20 million in energy infrastructure and modernized equipment invested in the Ashley plant over the past two decades to support the future growth and development of the City of St. Louis and deliver clean, reliable and cost-effective renewable energy to businesses across the city." 


US microgrid passes 24-hour islanding test

US utility Ameren and smart grid firm S&C Electric have announced the completion of a successful 24-hour islanding test at Ameren’s 50 kW microgrid in the state of Illinois.

The $5m microgrid, which came online in May, powers Ameren’s research facility in the city of Champaign. It includes a 125 kW solar PV array from Yingli Solar, a 100 kW wind turbine from Northern Power Systems and 1 MW Caterpillar natural gas-fired genset, as well as 250 kW/500 kWh of battery energy storage from S&C.
According to the companies, the test began with the battery’s charge at 97 per cent. As it fell to 90 per cent, the PV array and wind turbine came online, which carried the power load and recharged the battery. Throughout the day-long test, the firms said the battery charge remained above 88 per cent.
“In short, the microgrid functioned without any human interaction, automatically co-ordinating resources and ensuring power never faltered,” a statement read.
David Chies, senior director, business development at S&C, said: "When designing this microgrid, we were confident that the seamless transition and the ability to run solely on renewable generation would be two of the biggest features to this system.
"Microgrids are becoming more commonplace on the grid, and this test continues to prove how impactful they can be for energy users."

New York announced $10m heat pump fund

The US state of New York has backed a $10bn investment aimed at accelerating the adoption of energy efficient heat pumps.

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) says the technology will help reduce energy costs and decrease greenhouse gas emissions in homes and businesses across the region.

The heat pumps can meet both heating and cooling needs without producing much carbon dioxide, supporting Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s energy goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030.

In the winter, air source heat pumps collect heat from outside and distribute it inside – they require electricity to run but can deliver up to three times more energy than they use.

In the summer, operation is reversed to air condition a building by moving heat from indoors to outdoors.

Participating installers are eligible to receive up to $500 (£388) per  system put into place, with up to $500,000 (£388,000) per firm available.

These companies will then use these incentives to grow the ASHP portion of their business.

Alicia Barton, President and CEO of NYSERDA, said: “This funding strongly supports Governor Cuomo’s nation-leading clean energy strategy and will help make energy more affordable for New Yorkers.”


Vattenfall eyes district heating opportunity in Germany

Vattenfall is strategizing the development of district heat networks in Germany to take into account the continuing growth of urban areas in the country.

The Swedish firm believes its strategy is a good fit for policy emanating from Brussels favouring environmentally friendly heat networks, which are successfully cutting emissions from power generation.

With one third of all electricity produced in Germany already coming from renewables, the country is next looking to reform residential heating, which accounts for 40 percent of energy-derived carbon dioxide emissions.

Vattenfall’s Germany chief Tuomo Hatakka said strong urban growth would raise its district heating customer numbers in Berlin and Hamburg by 25 percent up to 2025 from 1.7 million now.

Vattenfall’s Berlin and Hamburg district heating systems account for 20 and 30 percent of district heating in the two cities respectively and are among the biggest in Europe.

Berlin has added around 15,000 apartments and attracted 40,000 new residents annually in recent years amid a boom in the technology and healthcare industries.

"In Berlin, we could reach 50 percent district heat," Vattenfall’s Germany chief Tuomo Hatakka told Reuters.

District heating accounts for just 9 percent of space and hot water heating in the European Union. Last year the European Commission published a strategy paper for heating and cooling – which account for around 40 percent of EU energy consumption – that aims to boost district heating and renewable energy use.

Over the next five years Vattenfall, one of Europe’s largest heat providers, plans to invest two billion euros ($2.35 billion) in Berlin, half of that in district heating systems.

Vattenfall’s CHP plants in Berlin will gradually switch from coal to gas, and eventually they will use surplus electricity from wind turbines.

The company also plans to channel more waste heat from industry to its district heating plants. 

UK Power Networks issues tender for distributed energy resources

UK Power Networks (UKPN) will seek over 34 MW of flexibility services across its network to be available in January 2018 in the first open tender of its type to be held by a distribution network operator (DNO).

An invitation has been extended for expressions of interest from distributed energy resources capable of adjusting how much they consume or generate in ten network locations. These will be used to support the local distribution network at times of high electricity demand in return for payments from UKPN.

Clean Energy News reports that these resources can be generators, consumers, and electricity storage connected to UKPN’s networks that can respond when instructed.

‘As the distribution system operator in London, the South East, and the East of England, we are looking to use this flexibility to support how we plan and operate the local networks, with the ultimate aim of reducing costs in customer energy bills whilst ensuring that the lights stay on,” the invitation states.

The responses will be used to understand what flexibility resources are available, or could be available, in each location to determine the viability of each location for deployment of flexibility.

UKPN is also seeking to understand the needs, capabilities, and any restrictions of those resources, to inform the service requirements and design, while suitable providers for this year’s procurement will be pre-qualified, with potential future providers to be recorded.

In order to participate, flexibility resources must be connected to the network asset being supported, such as a substation and minimum flexibility capability of directly contracted resources or aggregated portfolios must be at least 500kW, although this is currently under review following the Flexibility Service Design consultation.

The flexibility provider should be able to deliver and manage, upon UK Power Networks’ request, a net reduction in the load or an increase in the export, as seen by the distribution network. They should have the ability to act (provide a response) reliably and consistently, in both magnitude and duration, throughout the contracted windows.

All technologies are being invited to express interest and should be able to deliver the service from January 2018 and/or next winter (2018/19).

UKPN launched its Flexibility Service Design consultation last month, the responses of which will be used to determine a firm timeline for the service tenders as well as design of payment structures, including the use of availability windows, as well as other elements associated with the tenders.

This will be used to form the final tender invitation to be launched on 2 October, with submissions to be made in the three weeks to 17 November, with successful participants to be announced three days later.

Bloom-PowerSecure partnership wins 37 MW fuel cell contract

Fuel cell manufacturer Bloom Energy and Southern Company microgrid subsidiary PowerSecure have announced a 37 MW fuel cell deal with data center company Equinix.

It is the biggest deal for the partnership since they came together with the aim of bringing 50 MW of fuel cells to market through upfront financing and power-purchase agreements. 

Over the next two years, the partners will install Bloom’s solid-oxide, natural-gas-fuelled “energy servers” at 12 Equinix data centers in California and New York, with the goal of reducing the company’s carbon footprint, offering it more control over its energy supply, and keeping its electricity bills at or lower their current rates via 15-year power purchase agreements. 

There are about 235 MW of large-scale stationary fuel cells operating in the US as of mid-2016, most of them in California, according to a November report from the Department of Energy. But the largest single projects to date are in Connecticut, with nearly 15 MW from FuelCell Energy, and in Delaware, where Bloom set the previous record with a 30-MW deployment with Delmarva Power to deploy its fuel cells at utility substations.

This week’s deal will put Bloom’s “energy servers” — self-contained fuel cells, inverters and control systems — behind the meter at Equinix data centers, where they will provide a portion of each site’s electricity around the clock. The units will be located at seven Equinix data centers in the Silicon Valley, three in the New York area, and two in the Los Angeles area, with the largest single site at 5.2 MW. 

The Equinix deal represents the first big project under the PowerSecure partnership, which is aimed at giving its corporate parent, Southeastern utility Southern Company, an entree into the world of owning distributed energy assets. 

“The most exciting aspect of this structure is that it allows each party to focus on its core competency,” Asim Hussain, Bloom’s VP of marketing, said in an interview this week. Equinix “wants to operate the most efficient and reliable data centers in the world. We’re providing for that with clean, high-quality electricity…and the financing is coming from one of the largest utilities in the country. That’s what really allows distributed energy to scale.”

Since 2015, Equinix has been testing a 1-megawatt installation from Bloom one of its San Jose data centers, and “it’s exceeded its business case from an efficiency standpoint and a financial standpoint,” according David Rinard, senior director of global sustainability and strategic sourcing.

Based on that experience, “We took a look around the country to see where else it made sense to expand,” he said. Equinix looked for a combination of sites where the fuel cell’s cost of energy aligned with grid power prices, and where local or state air quality regulations barred natural-gas turbines or other combustion-based forms of distributed generation, he said
Bloom’s fuel cells still consume natural gas and emit carbon dioxide, making them far from a renewable or carbon-neutral energy source. But according to the partners, the 37 megawatts to be deployed will provide power that is 20 percent to 45 percent less carbon-intensive than the equivalent grid-supplied power.

The fuel cell units met Equinix’s strict requirements for power reliability, a critical issue for a company that hosts massive amounts of internet traffic from data centers around the world. 

Geothermal heat project to explore Glasgow’s defunct mines

Plans for a new geothermal research field are to be unveiled next month in Scotland.

Two potential sites have been proposed in Glasgow for the field, which is a joint initiative of the Geoenergy Observatories Project led by the National Environmental Research Council (NERC) and the British Geological Survey (BGS).
The £9m ($12m) Glasgow Geothermal Energy Research Field Site is envisioned as a way to explore geothermal energy’s potential for heating local communities through the geothermal potential of warm water from the large number of defunct coal mines underneath Glasgow.  
“It may be possible to use that water for geothermal energy to heat homes and businesses,” BGS said.
To carry out the research, boreholes of varying depths would be drilled and temperature, water movement and water chemistry would be measured.  
The proposed project also includes plans for a second research site which would be based in England.
Prof John Ludden, BGS executive director, said the project “may create opportunities for the UK to lead the way in providing safe and sustainable energy for former mining communities around the world”.
BGS said it will host an event in early September to inform the public about the plans.

China to develop geothermal heating in Hebei province

In a drive to reduce emissions from coal-fired power plants and create ‘smokeless cities’, state-owned China Petroleum & Chemical Corp (Sinopec) is set to develop geothermal heating capacity in Xiongxian county in China’s northern Hebei province.

According to the China Daily newspaper, 20 planned low-pollution zones will be spread across the country covering 100 million square metres, and are planned to be developed during the nation’s 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020).
Sinopec believes that around 60 per cent of the land in Xiongxian county holds significant geothermal resources, with a groundwater temperature of over 55 degrees C and 82.1 billion cubic metres of hydro-geologic water reserves.
Sinopec Green Energy, the company’s joint venture with Iceland’s Orka Energy Holding, has moved its headquarters to Xiongxian and aims to provide over 16 million square metres of geothermal heating area.
Sinopec’s installed geothermal heating capacity was reported at 4.5 million square metres in July.
Under the 13th Five Year Plan, China aims to grow its geothermal heating capacity by 500 GW by 2020 and enlarge the area covered by geothermal heating by 1.1bn square metres.