Combined heat and power (CHP) generators will be a backbone technology in Europe’s coming green energy revolution. They produce both saleable heat and electricity and can rapidly ramp up and down over short periods of time. That gives them a third capability: to balance power grids in order to compensate for fluctuating renewables like wind and solar power.
WHILE shale gas has grabbed most of the headlines in recent months, another form of unconventional gas has quietly been establishing itself in Scotland. Scotland’s first “gas to grid” anaerobic digestion project in Coupar Angus, Perthshire, came on line towards the end of 2014 and a number of others are currently in various stages of development. There is no doubt that commercial scale anaerobic digestion gas-to-grid has arrived in Scotland. Anaerobic digestion (AD) is a natural process where, in the absence of oxygen, organic material is broken down by bacteria to produce biogas. The technology is not new. AD plants producing biogas have been widely used for some time. The gas produced was typically used for on-site heating or for the production of electricity. However, if there is no on-site or neighbouring demand for heat, then using the gas to solely produce electricity only uses around 30-35 per cent of the energy in the gas. A far more efficient method of harnessing the energy content, and one with reduced emissions, is to clean up the gas and inject it into the gas grid – into the pipeline networks that supply our homes and businesses, bringing green gas to all. By selling into the grid, developers of projects create a market; no longer are they concerned with the financial stability of a single on-site user of gas. It also has a number of other potential benefits.
Social business Gentoo Group is set to trial a new type of solar panel “Solar Angel” that combines the benefits of conventional solar thermal and photovoltaic (PV) technologies to generate both hot water and electricity. The Solar Angel panel is more efficient than a standard PV panel as it generates both hot water and electricity by absorbing a larger percentage of energy from the sun. In turn, the hot water generated cools down the panel, increasing the efficiency of the electrical generation which should result in lower energy costs for the customer.
A Co-Operative store in the Highlands has become the retailer’s first branch to switch to biomass heating – in a move which will cut the shop’s annual energy bill by nearly 50% and cut 90 tonnes of C02 emissions. The Co-op opted for the biomass system as part of a £540,000 refit of their Kilmallie Road store in Caol, Ft. William, to reduce both carbon emissions and operating costs.
The UK needs 4 million heat pumps. The UK is way off track to meet its target to have 25 per cent of heating provided by low carbon sources, such as heat pumps and biomass boilers, a new report from WWF has revealed. The Warm homes, not Warm Words report shows that just two per cent of UK heating demand currently comes from low carbon sources. Consequently, it calls for a drastic scaling up of heat networks and renewable heat technologies across the country in a bid to ensure the UK remains on track to meet its overarching emissions target.
Thousands of UK residents will soon be cooking with “poo-power”‘. In a national first, water firms including Severn Trent, Wessex Water and Northumbrian Water are preparing to pipe a continuous supply of biomethane gas directly from sewage-treatment plants into the National Grid. In the past, water firms have used gas produced in sewage treatment to generate electricity on site, but this will be the first time advanced technology to treat methane will produce high-quality biomethane suitable for use in homes. Severn Trent was first to activate its gas-to-grid systems, this week, injecting 1,200m3 of biomethane into the Grid from Minworth sewage works in Birmingham. When fully operational, it will inject 750m3 of biomethane into the Grid every hour, enough to fuel 4,200 homes annually. Both Severn Trent and Wessex Water intend to pipe a continuous supply into the Grid by mid-October. Wessex Water’s gas-to-grid project at the Bristol sewage works will be the first and largest plant of its kind, using food waste as well as sewage to produce up to 2,000m3 of biomethane an hour, enough to fuel 8,300 homes for a year. Food waste, said spokesman Ian Drury, generates “twice as much” biogas as sewage.
An ancient volcano deep beneath Stoke-on-Trent could help to heat more than a thousand homes. Under a plan costing £52 million, a 2.5km (1.5 mile) borehole would be drilled to an aquifer in which the water is heated naturally to at least 85C (185F). The source of the heat is thought to be a volcano 350 million years old. Professor Peter Styles, of the University of Keele, told The Sentinel: “It’s a bit like having a hot water bottle in the ground.” Stoke City Council is preparing a business case for the project. The government has pledged £20 million.
The first renewable energy scheme in Scotland to draw heat from a river is set to be installed by the University of Glasgow in a bid to lower the university’s heating bill by one-quarter. The revolutionary technology, which has separately been pioneered by Glasgow firm Star Renewable Energy and has been successfully installed in lakes, rivers and estuaries in Scandinavia and Japan, would see a heat pump installed two metres below the surface of the Clyde or Kelvin rivers where latent heat from the sun keeps the temperature of the water between 8C and 10C all year round.
One of the UK’s largest NHS hospitals is set to save more than £80m over the next 25 years with the opening of a new decentralised combined heat and power (CHP) energy centre. Addenbrook’s in Cambridge is working with energy consultants Utilyx to install the centre, which will help the renowned teaching hospital meet its sustainability targets by providing high efficiency and low carbon heating, hot water and electricity.
The Department for Environment and Climate Change (Decc) would like to see the number of properties connected to a district heating scheme increased from a paltry 2% (just under 200,000 nationwide) to 20% by 2030 and 40% by 2050. To facilitate this, Decc has made £7m available to councils to carry out feasibility studies for district heating systems. More than 50 UK local authorities have taken the government up on its offer. Between them they have been awarded £4m and there is £3m remaining in the pot. The Greater London Authority has set a target that 25% of its energy supply will come from decentralised sources by 2025. The first step towards this was creating a map of London’s heat resources. The map shows where London’s power plants are, where its energy from waste plants is, its CHP sites and the proposed sites for heating networks. The regeneration of the area around Kings Cross station in London will see 2,000 new homes built – all of which will be connected to district heating. Another 10,000 homes to be built on the site of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park will also benefit. Another scheme in Pimlico is already up and running, supplying heat to 3,000 homes. Outside the capital, Sheffield, Leicester, Nottingham and Bristol are also investing in district heating. Bristol is developing the infrastructure in the local enterprise zone around Bristol Temple Meads railway station.