The world of renewable and sustainable energy technologies is a complex one and can be quite mystifying for those not close to the technology. In this article we will explore one of these technologies, Biomass CHP, which is a technology that is suitable for businesses across all sectors that have a high and consistent energy demand and one which continues to attract government incentives.
What is Biomass CHP?
Firstly, let’s start with “biomass”. The Biomass Energy Centre defined biomass as “biological material derived from living, or recently living organisms”. In the context of biomass for energy can mean plant based material or both animal and vegetable derived material. And, “CHP” stands for “combined heat and power”. Putting the two together, Biomass CHP is an efficient, low carbon approach to generating both heat and power from sustainable sourced biomass fuels.
How does Biomass CHP work?
In a Biomass CHP system electricity and heat are produced from sustainable biomass fuel pellets through a process called “gasification. Firstly, the biomass pellets are quickly heated to a very high temperature (1000°C+) with the most efficient systems achieve temperatures of 1200°C. This process converts the pellets from a solid state in to a gas (Syngas) which fuels a generator to produce electricity. Heat is also created through the combustion of the gas and this heat is to heat anything from water, animal sheds, greenhouses, industrial buildings, hotels etc.
What are the benefits of Biomass CHP?
They are numerous, including:
- Better returns when compared to traditional biomass systems, alongside greater reliability and efficiency.
- The potential to convert your own business waste stream into biomass fuel, improving both your returns and sustainability.
- The ability to both generate sustainable electricity which can be used on-site or sold back to the grid.
- Qualifying for government financial incentives – ROCs (Renewable Obligation Certificates) and RHIs (Renewable Heat Incentives). RHI payments are awarded for 20 years, are tax free and index linked.
- Potential for your project to be support by Carbon Trust funding.
- A Win Win – a reduction in energy costs AND a reduction in the carbon footprint of your business.
How good is the technology?
The simple answer is “very good”. E3 Micro Combined Heat and Power System is an example of how advanced the technology is. Protected by over 60 patents, the E3 defines a revolution in small scale power generation with safety and reliability standards that match large-scale power plants. It is the world’s smallest biomass power generator and has 85% overall efficiency with an uptime of over 90%. Its innovative technology heats biomass pellets to 1200°C, producing an exceptionally clean, high quality syngas which is used to generate up to 25kW of electric energy and 60 kW of heat with the optional of 30 kW of cooling. The modular design means that multiple unit can be linked to serve businesses with very large energy requirements. Manufactured by Entrade, one of the fastest-growing private companies in Europe, the E3 has won numerous accolades and epitomises “Design Perfection”. It really is a clever piece of tech.
Why now is a good time to consider Biomass CHP?
If your business is considering alternative energy technologies, then act quickly. The Carbon Trust Green Business Fund is currently available for qualifying businesses and is offering a capital contribution of 15% of the project (up to a max of £10,000). Government incentives also remain attractive but have recently reduced but are likely to face further downward pressure in 2017. Whilst the opportunity to enhance your sustainability and reduce your carbon footprint through moving to Biomass CHP will be there for years to come, the financial benefits of doing so are likely to furtherrecede over the short to medium term.