How to deliver low cost energy to cities and municipalities

Delivering low cost energy

Energy security and rising electricity costs are big issues for cities and municipalities across Europe, especially for those that rely substantially on large energy producers and imported fossil fuels for their power generation. Recent falls in the cost of fossil fuels, on the back of declining oil prices, have given some temporary respite but already energy costs are rising.

Matt Drew, MD of Saxlund International says: “Renewables, driven in part by government and EU targets, are helping and as a consequence wind energy in particular has been growing in importance at both a local and national level. This has allowed some municipalities to take back an element of control. However renewables are only a small part of the solution and they aren’t right for everyone. Moreover, large subsidies frequently hide the true cost of the energy produced, nor are they a base load solution – if the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine you still need conventional solutions for generating power consistently.”

So what’s the solution for delivering low cost energy?

Well clearly there isn’t one single answer. But part of the jigsaw and one which is especially relevant to dense urban areas, where there is a high demand for both heating and electricity, is locally generated Combined Heat and Power (CHP). Sometimes referred to as co-generation, CHP integrates the production of electricity together with useable heat in one single, highly efficient process. Capturing waste heat in this way and deploying it for use in district heating and other processes makes CHP up to 80% more efficient than conventional power generation. It means energy costs can be reduced by as much as 20%.

That’s a significant reduction. If you combine CHP with biomass fuels, in particular sustainable timber and waste wood from forest harvesting, then the gains are doubly attractive. Fuel costs are significantly lower and it’s better for the environment. There’s the potential to cut CO2 emissions by some 90% compared to gas.

For parts of Northern & Eastern Europe where forestry is plentiful, the opportunity hasn’t gone unrecognised and local biomass energy solutions in the 2 to 5MW range providing Combined Heat and Power are starting to play an important role in delivering secure, affordable, green energy.

With two year’s successful operation behind them, a new CHP plant in Falköping municipality, Sweden, commissioned by Falbygdens Energi from Saxlund International, is a typical example. The plant supplies district heating and electricity, producing 2.4 MW of electricity and 10 MW of district heating, from locally sourced and sustainable forestry including bark and other forest residues as well as virgin timber.

Kaunas Municipality in Lithuania and the city of Tallin in Estonia will also benefit when new biomass CHP plants come on stream in 2016. Both make use of local renewable timber and follow a strategic partnership between Saxlund International and Axis Industries to deliver state-of-the-art biomass combustion solutions. The 5MW electric CHP plant for Danpower Baltic in Lithuania will be entirely fuelled by renewable timber, while the larger 21.4 MW electric solution in Tallin for energy company Utilitas will burn woodchip combined with 30% peat to deliver 20% of the municipality’s heat demand.

Small-scale biomass fired CHP solutions

There are a number of other reasons why small-scale biomass fired CHP solutions makes sense. They are easier to fund, with considerably less risk than much larger power stations, and quicker to design and build. Importantly the technology is robust and technically proven with dozens of examples especially in Scandinavia. At the scales we are talking about, between 5 and 10 MW electric, local fuel sources are easily managed without the supply chain issues and security of supply that much bigger plants will face.

Waste wood collection and processing

Moreover, the potential to use waste wood and Solid Recovered Fuel (SRF) means urban centres away from forested areas can also benefit, ticking the waste to energy boxes and diverting material from landfill. A typical CHP plant will convert for example between 6,000 to 80,000 tonnes of waste wood diverted from landfill and other low quality waste wood into 170,000MWhr of renewable thermal energy, each year. Importantly this isn’t diverting prime timber resources and it is also helping to create employment opportunities across Europe for waste wood collection and processing.

Saving waste from landfill in the UK

In the UK for example, the construction of a 3.4MW biomass CHP plant at Twinwoods Heat & Power in Bedfordshire, a privately operated power company, is nearing completion. Designed to produce over 27,000 MW hr of electricity and 8000 MW hr of district heating annually, the plant will burn approximately 40,000 tonnes of waste wood from commercial and domestic recycling centres each year, a fuel source that would otherwise be sent to landfill or exported.

Matt Drew says: “Selecting the right technology partner is crucial. The good news is that Saxlund has over 60 years’ experience and can supply everything required to deliver successful energy projects from the biomass combustion furnace, fuel handling solutions through to advanced flue gas treatment and heat recovery.”

To learn more please contact Saxlund International today on +44 (0) 2380 636330 or send your name and contact details to info@saxlund.co.uk, to discuss how we can provide the right solution for your energy requirements.

Waste to Energy is Ready for Solid Investment in the UK?

The ever increasing debate around waste to energy vs historical landfill has been with us for several years. Governments around the world are focused on reducing the environmental impact that increased energy consumption creates.

The Department for Environment, Food & Rural affairs (Defra) quoted in their energy from waste guide in 2014:

Waste to energy has a poor historical image in the UK. Northern Europe is clearly ahead of the UK, but with the right technology, planning and people, we have all the opportunities to create a world class solution.

Waste to Energy – Risk vs Investment

WMW (Waste Management World) asked industry insiders for their thoughts on how projects can best secure finance. Saxlund International’s managing director Matt Drew shared his thoughts on where he thinks investors are digging their heels when it comes to creating the right environment for investment, read more here…

Industry investors are rarely “early adopters” of new technology, preferring proven technology that has historical proof.

Matt Drew says: It’s not that investors aren’t hungry to invest. We talk to almost as many investors as we do project owners. We know what works and what goes wrong.

Waste to Energy – Financing

Financing of energy from waste projects can be difficult with financial institutions, local authorities and waste companies all seeking to minimise their risks. This often leads to a reliance on long term contracts and steers projects towards proven technologies and companies, making it difficult for small companies or innovative technologies to break in.

Matt Drew says: The selected procurement method is important too.  EPC contracts ‘Engineer, Procure, Construct’ are popular because there is one “butt to kick” if things go wrong. Other contracting routes are available, which apportion risk over a number of parties and add construction management services to consult and advise. The benefits are lower costs, better process control, stronger collaboration and better results.

Waste to Energy the Growth of an Industry

The waste-to-energy market is set to grow at a rapid rate over the coming decade. The waste management industry’s rising goals for improved practices combined with the search for alternative energy sources are bringing transformational change to the waste to energy marketplace and opening up a new landscape of opportunities for waste conversion technologies and projects.

Saxlund International has over 50 years’ experience providing innovative solutions for Bulk Materials handling and Biomass Combustion. Using worldwide leading patented technology and practical experience in handling major projects, the company has constructed more than 3500 plants worldwide, all of which set new standards in terms of their technical performance and reliability. Indeed, a reputation has been established during this period for supplying solid and reliable equipment that performs as designed.

Matt Drew says: “We have experience of working for all of the major UK utilities and also working as part of a team collaborating directly with the end client on complex projects. As a UK contractor, we are also experienced working on NAECI Blue Book sites for major projects.

Is Waste to Energy Technology Ready for Solid Investment in the UK?

Saxlund International has the technology and infrastructure in place with a proven track record of sustainable growth in energy produced through waste to energy technology. Creating a reduced cost environment through combined solutions that give investors the confidence to finance the projects.

Contact Saxlund today on +44 (0) 2380 636330 for a solid solution that attracts the right investment.