Californian Indian reservation microgrid launched

Blue Lake Rancheria, a century-old Native American reservation in northern California, has launched its low-carbon community microgrid that is helping power government offices, economic enterprises, and critical Red Cross safety shelter facilities connect across 100 acres.

In collaboration with Humboldt State University’s Schatz Energy Research Center, Siemens, Idaho National Laboratory and additional partners, the microgrid uses decentralized energy resources and intelligent software to provide its residents and economic enterprises with reliable power without interruption.

The microgrid includes a 500-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system designed and built by REC Solar and a 950 kWh Tesla battery storage system, all managed and controlled with Siemens Spectrum Power Microgrid Management System (MGMS) software.

Funded in part through a $5 million grant from the California Energy Commission’s Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) program, the system allows the reservation to operate independently of the power grid in coordination with local utility Pacific Gas & Electric. This project incorporates the largest solar array in currently in operation in Humboldt County, California, is estimated to save the Tribe over $200,000 in annual energy costs, will reduce at least 150 tons of carbon per year and will grow Tribal clean energy jobs by 10 per cent.

“This project demonstrates how national laboratory assets can be leveraged as part of a diverse partnership to reduce risks and build resilient community microgrids,” said Rob Hovsapian, Power & Energy Systems manager at Idaho National Laboratory.

“The continuing trend toward decentralized energy is made feasible in large part by the introduction of intelligent software to manage and control a vast array of energy resources,” said Pat Wilkinson, Vice President at Siemens Digital Grid. “With our intelligent microgrid management software, Blue Lake Rancheria is able to rely on a complex mix of generation and storage to work together to deliver efficient, reliable and cleaner power for the Tribe’s government offices and other critical infrastructure.”

Vattenfall starts geothermal offering in Sweden

Vattenfall has added geothermal heating and cooling solutions to its offerings for owners of single homes in Sweden, having bought a 35% stake in field specialist BrainHeart Energy.

Vattenfall and BrainHeart Energy’s local units offer new installations and replacements as well as servicing and monitoring. According to Vattenfall, its partner installs about four geothermal energy solutions per day in Sweden.

“Geothermal energy is a good complement for owners of single houses in locations beyond the reach of our district heating network and for those who prefer a different solution,” Magnus Hall, CEO of Vattenfall, said in a statement.

Spanish geothermal district heating project gets green light

A geothermal district heating system in Spain’s Galicia province has been given the go-ahead with the signing of a partnership framework agreement.
The council in the city of Ourense aims to collaborate with the Institute for Energy Diversification and Saving (IDAE), a government agency, to develop pilot geothermal heating projects in the city. 
The first project is now in the planning phase after Ourense’s mayor, Jesús Vázquez, and Álvaro Nadal, Spain’s minister for energy, tourism and the digital agenda, signed the partnership agreement. 
The project will be located in the city’s fifth district and will serve a population of about 28,000 as well as a number of public buildings. Once completed, it would be the first geothermal district heating system in Spain.
Galicia is rich in geothermal resources and studies by Spain’s Geological Survey have shown temperatures of 50˚C-90˚C at depths of 500-1500 metres.
Ourense is a historical hot springs town, known to the Romans as Aquis Auriensis. It is now a member of the European Historical Thermal Towns Association (EHTTA).
Image: Victor Hermida Prada [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Germany seeks power boost from new CHP tender

The German government has published regulations for planned auctions for the country’s combined heat and power plants.

The auctions are designated to attract CHP with up to 50 MW in capacity, with 100 MW on offer in the first auction set for December 2017.

According to a first draft of the regulation based on last year’s reform of the CHP bill (KWKG 2016), the energy ministry plans two auctions each year for 100 MW each time.

Last year’s KWKG 2016 bill is set to boost electricity output from CHPs to 110 TWh by 2020 and 120 TWh by 2025 as well as improving support mechanisms for new gas-fired CHP plants.

Platts reports that new-build gas-fired CHP projects that replace an older coal-fired CHP unit will receive an additional bonus while existing coal and lignite-fired CHPs will no longer receive support through this mechanism.

The reform bill also introduced a new tender process for government support for new CHP units between 1 MW and 50 MW of capacity.

Following approval by the EC, the bill was passed at the end of last year with the ministry’s draft regulation now in the consultation phase until June.

Germany’s potential CHP capacity is near 50 GW ranging from large-scale new-built coal-fired units like the 900 MWe GKM 9 plant at Mannheim to mid-sized municipally-owned urban CHP units down to small-scale or even micro- units, data from Platts Powervision shows.

Combined heat and power plant to save Baltimore hospital $750,000 per year

The University of Maryland Baltimore Washington Medical Center’s (BWMC) recently installed natural gas cogeneration power plant has led to significant savings.

The center says its new power plant will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save the hospital about $750,000 in annual energy costs.

The cogeneration power plant — one of the first of its kind in the county — cost about $8 million and took roughly 14 months to install, hospital officials said.

The energy will power the hospital’s lights and machines in the operating rooms, and the waste heat will heat BWMC year-round.

With the cogeneration plant running alongside the diesel-fueled generators, the hospital will be able to reduce its consumption of fossil fuels.

Officials said the plant can be used as a backup generator with the medical center’s other emergency generators, specifically during times of natural disasters.

In addition to the $750,000 savings every year, the hospital also received a $1.75 million rebate from Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., as well as $465,000 from the Maryland Energy Administration.

The plant produces about 2,600 pounds of steam and 2 megawatts an hour, said Earl Burke, manager of facilities engineering at BWMC. The power plant is projected to save 10,000 tonnes of carbon a year, which Burke said is equivalent to taking 1,800 cars off the road every year.

Rolls-Royce delivers new CHP solution for Belgian tomato operation

Two combined heat and power plants provided by Rolls-royce have gone into operation in Belgium.

Since the beginning of the year, the CHP plants have been supplying energy to a new tomato greenhouse operated by Maxburg BVBA in Meer in Belgium.

The two gas-powered gensets have reliably supplied over 20 Megawatt hours of heat and power to date. Maxburg is now the 30th greenhouse for which Rolls-Royce has delivered combined heat and power plants.

Since 2005, no less than 52 combined heat and power plants manufactured by Rolls-Royce have generated a total electrical output of 270 MW in greenhouses in Holland, Belgium, Russia and the UK.

Back in 2008 and 2010, Rolls-Royce delivered two combined heat and power plants to the greenhouse operator John Vermeiren in Loenhout and in Merksplas in Belgium. As John Vermeiren says: “The high level of efficiency of the medium-speed gensets and their reliability impressed us so much that we decided once again in favour of Rolls-Royce for the energy supply of our third greenhouse in Meer.”

The gensets are based on the medium-speed B35:40 V12 AG2 engines from Rolls-Royce, each of which is able to generate an electrical output of 5,650 kW and a thermal output of 6,545 kW.

They achieve an efficiency level of more than 96 per cent. The electric power is used primarily for the greenhouse lamps and, if required, is fed into the public grid. The greenhouse, which extends over an area of 10.2 hectares, is heated using the heat extracted from the exhaust gas and the engine’s cooling system. The cleaned exhaust gases from the engines are also injected into the greenhouses to increase the level of CO2 and boost plant growth.

John Vermeiren expects to achieve an annual production of 7.5 million kilogrammes of tomatoes at the Maxburg greenhouse.

Rolls-Royce has delivered the complete CHP plants, consisting of the power generator sets, the exhaust gas systems, including the SCR systems and the heat exchangers.

The electronic control systems are also included in the scope of supply. Operator John Vermeiren and Rolls-Royce have concluded a long-term service agreement for the combined heat and power plants covering approximately 4,500 hours of operation per year over the next 10 years.

UK urged to restructure energy system to support decentralized energy

The UK must urgently restructure its energy system to avoid blackouts and other problems arising from the growing use of decentralized energy, a new report has found.
In the report titled People power: how consumer choice is changing the UK energy system, environmental group the Green Alliance said the use of “21st century technologies in a 20th century energy system is a recipe for disaster”.
One example is the increasing use of electric vehicles (EVs), which is expected to jump by 700 per cent to over 4.5 million on the road by 2040. Charging as few as six EVs simultaneously on a UK street could result in local power outages, the report claimed.
The report also predicted a significant rise in decentralized energy installations such as commercial and residential solar photovoltaic (PV) systems and energy storage by 2025.
But the nation’s current energy policy is not well-placed to deal with this growth, the report found, warning that government intervention through the use of subsidies will lose its effectiveness within five years as growth will no longer be tied to them. This could lead to blackouts, penalties for consumers who go off-grid, and even the need for bailouts for large utilities.
Among the report’s recommendations were: increased support for both large-scale power production and smaller energy technologies; the creation of an independent energy system design body; transformation of distribution network operators into distribution system operators to enable smart management of local grids and reduce the need for grid upgrades; support for smaller-scale technologies in providing system flexibility; and increased use of automation and aggregators.
Dr Simon Harrison, chair of the Institution of Engineering and Technology’s (IET) energy panel, said the report shows that “the way in which we govern and manage change on the system in the context of the fast moving world of consumer technology needs significant and urgent overhaul.
“The system of the future will need to perform substantially different functions to today’s,” he added. “Most of the changes are around how consumers want to use the system – for example to charge their electric car or to generate their own electricity supply using solar panels.
"We now have to think about the decisions of individual consumers and the electrical equipment they use as much as about the planning and use of large power stations and transmission lines.”  

COGEN Europe issues cogeneration recommendations for clean energy package

COGEN Europe has announced key legislative recommendations to ensure that the Clean Energy Package engages energy consumers.

The aim of the document is to turn consumers into active beneficiaries of the energy transition by unlocking the contribution of cogeneration towards the Clean Energy Package objectives.

The Clean Energy Package, released by the European Commission on 30 November 2016, will be crucial to provide a coherent framework for energy consumers and investors with a 2030 time horizon to move to low-carbon, secure and affordable energy system.

Providing the right signals to investors and energy consumers (from heavy industry, through to commercial and public sector users and individual householders) will be crucial to enable them to take ownership and accelerate the energy transition, planning for the future and making well-informed choices.

Being consumer-led and using a range of conventional and renewable fuels, cogeneration or combined heat & power (CHP), engages consumers and makes consumers active beneficiaries of the energy transition. Cogeneration thus helps deliver on the objectives of the Clean Energy Package by saving energy, reducing CO2 emissions and enabling more renewable heat and electricity in the system, while ensuring grid stability.

To unlock the potential of cogeneration in accelerating the energy transition, policymakers should take into consideration the following key principles:

Ensure an integrated approach to energy and climate policy, breaking down the silos between energy conversion, transmission, distribution and consumption and unlocking synergies between different energy carriers and grids (electricity, heat, gas). While the Package addresses in depth the downstream of the energy value chain (i.e. energy consumption/final energy use), unlocking the significant untapped energy efficiency potential at supply side level, in the conversion, transmission and distribution of energy will be key to delivering the 2030 objectives and should thus be strengthened in the Clean Energy Package proposals.

Allow investors and consumers to achieve real efficiency improvements based on informed choices. To this end, it is important that energy savings can be compared across all parts of the economy and sectors, from supply to demand. Policy signals need to reflect the losses and inefficiencies in today’s energy system, across all energy carriers (i.e. electricity, heat, gas networks) and reflecting when and how heat and electricity is used and produced. A robust and transparent methodology capturing these principles (within the Primary Energy Factor) will allow consumers to take informed decisions to achieve real efficiency gains.
Strengthen and apply consistently the acquis of the Energy Efficiency Directive to ensure efficient, secure, sustainable and cost-effective supply of both electricity and heat for European consumers, thus allowing for the specific needs of domestic, commercial, public and industrial consumers to be fully addressed. Addressing the challenge of sustainable, secure and cost-effective heat supply is particularly important, and often forgotten. Therefore, the continuity of heat supply principle should be strengthened throughout the Package by reinforcing systematic and comprehensive planning and implementation of efficient heating and cooling solutions. In this respect, and with a view to promote renewable heat, as well as flexible low and no-carbon electricity generation, a balanced approach should be taken to incentivising the efficient use of bioenergy resources with cogeneration.
Address the diverse needs of all energy consumers – domestic, commercial, public and industrial – to efficiently produce their own heat and electricity, while enabling them to unlock all available flexibility opportunities (e.g. demand response, heat and/or electricity storage, balancing services, aggregation of either demand or supply). It is equally important to ensure a continued business case for existing sustainable energy investments, including for cogeneration.

Commenting on the ongoing debate around the Clean Energy Package, Dr. Tim Rotheray, Acting Managing Director of COGEN Europe, said: “The Clean Energy Package represents a unique opportunity on the pathway to 2050 to foster favorable policies at the national level that will enable consumers to play an active role in the energy transition, as well as benefiting from innovative technologies like cogeneration. It is by empowering consumers that the Clean Energy Package will be able to break the silos between energy conversion, transmission, distribution and consumption."

"There also needs to be a sustained focus on the implementation of existing energy efficiency provisions, in particular the national comprehensive assessments on heating and cooling, and continued consistency and continuity between existing policies and the new Clean Energy Package proposals. COGEN Europe is committed to contributing to the ongoing legislative process so that this important legislative package delivers positive outcomes for European energy users.”

COGEN Europe Position Paper on the Clean Energy Package (pdf)





Biomass ORC system outperforms expectations

An organic rankine cycle (ORC) system installed at a wood pellet manufacturing facility in the US state of Maine has outperformed its predicted power output, its manufacturer has announced.
Maine Woods Pellet, headquartered in the town of Athens, installed an 8 MWe biomass ORC system from MHI’s Turboden in October 2016.
The system has already outperformed its expected output, Turboden said, producing 9 MWe.
Through the system, waste wood from logging and sawmill residues are burned to generate power for the wood pellet production process. The cogeneration plant uses a combination of exhaust and condenser heat to pre-dry the feedstock for the pellet plant.
According to Turboden, the plant represents the first biomass project to fully qualify for the state’s Standard Class 1 regulations for Renewable Energy Credits (RECs).

US forestry body recognition for biomass CHP plant

The Sierra Institute for Community and Environment has this week been announced as the winner of the Barrett Foundation Business Concept Challenge.

The $100,000 award is in recognition of the group’s proposal to develop a 3 MW biomass combined heat and power plant at Plumas County in California. It was presented in Washington DC on Wednesday.

The National Forest Foundation (NFF) runs the Barrett Foundation Business Concept Challenge as a means of encouraging the best entrepreneurial approaches that help to solve one or more of the challenges facing America’s 193-million-acre National Forest System.

This year’s winner combines energy production, sustainable forestry and community development in its innovative proposal.

Plumas County, which has lost thousands of timber-related jobs since the 1990s, is set to benefit immensely from such a plant but the small non-profit would have had difficulty generating enough capital to finance a biomass plant of this type. 

However the team created a coalition of project sponsors and proposed a small-scale biomass plant co-located with other wood products industries like the first cross-laminated-timber (CLT) mill in California, a firewood production facility, a wood chip processing facility for use by local biomass boilers in the county, and even a greenhouse heated by the biomass energy plant. The CHP plant would sell renewable energy to California’s uniquely regulated energy market and would sell heat created by the biomass facility to the other business co-ocated on the campus.

All the businesses would utilize locally and sustainably harvested wood from nearby National Forests, adding further value by reducing the forests’ risk of uncharacteristic wildfire and improving forest health. This model makes it economically viable for a non-profit to build such a small energy plant in a rural community.