All posts by Gaye Spencer

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, 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.


Converting Sewage sludge to energy in the waste water industry

Technological innovation is completely changing how the industry deals with sewage sludge and advanced digestion schemes to improve processing efficiency and convert sludge to energy are now commonplace.

Many companies still use bucket loaders for part of the operation, but there is a growing requirement for robust bulk material handling solutions that deal with a material that continues to be challenging.

Indeed, if you already operate thermal hydrolysis and AD production facilities, and you receive material from satellite treatment works or transport processed residues offsite, you’ll already appreciate how important handling, storage and conveying systems can be to optimise site efficiency

What if you could streamline the sewage sludge to energy process?

Overhead storage silos and truck loading systems frequently form part of the solution. However, silo discharge and conveying solutions that can deliver a consistent and precisely metered flow of material to downstream processing facilities are becoming more important. Getting this right is critical to AD and thermal hydrolysis systems. And it requires properly engineered solutions that fully understand the properties of the materials you are dealing with.

The processing solutions are already available…

Continued development of an integrated solution that increases efficiency and streamlines the containment and distribution of waste water has matured over recent years.

Projects like the Southern Water waste water treatment works in Havant and  Southampton [read more here] include raised storage silos, designed to allow de-watered sludge to be directly loaded into trucks below for transportation off site, as part of the company’s thermal hydrolysis and AD programme.

The solution is to incorporate the latest sliding frame technology with screw conveyors and integrated control systems to ensure a consistent discharge of material.

A proven solution with measurable results!

For Anglian Water in Norwich and United Utilities in Wigan similar solutions are in development, incorporating sludge cake silos with sliding frame technology and discharge solutions using sludge pumps and process feed silos for downstream Thermal Hydrolysis. [Read more]

Turning adverse elements into successful material handling

The industry is evolving fast, but one thing remains constant – sewage sludge. It might be non-free-flowing and difficult to handle, but increasingly it’s seen as a valuable resource.

Demand for resilient materials handling solutions is up and choosing the right engineering partner is crucial for site efficiency and optimisation.

With 30 years’ experience and dozens of working solutions, Saxlund has refined the strategic elements required to reduce consumption and assist in converting sewage sludge to energy.

Obviously identifying the areas of improvement that can be achieved in the management of your sewage sludge, and creating a consistent, measurable discharge of material, can clearly demonstrate to all senior stakeholders a solution that reduces overheads and at the same time increases the efficiency of your process.

To find out more about the way Saxlund can help you achieve this, contact us here , email us or call us on T: 02380 636330

New Wet steam turbine technology delivers carbon-free electricity

We’re announcing a new, wet steam turbine (WST), power solution, designed by our sister company Opcon Energy Systems, to produce up to 6,000MWh of emission-free electricity per year from waste saturated or superheated steam.

This means we can produce between 200kW – 800kW of electricity  from low grade steam with the new Opcon Powerbox Wet Steam Turbine, just not possible in a traditional steam turbine.New Powerbox wet steam turbine generates 200kW – 800kW energy

Do you currently discharge excess steam to the environment?

If you’re in a process industry such as chemical, pharmaceutical, refining, steel, cement or food or if you’re a medium size power generator read on to see how you can capitalise on waste heat to drive efficiencies and savings.

Go here for the full release


A Swedish lesson for successful CHP – can you benefit?

Small-scale biomass fired CHP offers a real opportunity for UK Energy needs and other parts of Europe too. Especially when it comes to using waste wood, forest residues and other solid recovered fuels.

One year in a new CHP plant in Sweden, operated by energy company Falbygdens Energi, shows what can be successfully achieved in the sub 5MW energy range. Performance testing has been extremely positive with some 80 GWh of heating and 16 GWh of electricity in the first year alone.  And it’s extremely efficient.

Plants at this size are also quick to realise – just 18 months from drawing board to commissioning – making projects at this scale significantly attractive to investors.

Interestingly the plant uses hot oil Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) technology for electricity production, rather than high pressure steam, which means engineering costs can also be reduced – another benefit.

For on-site industrial heat centres as well as some energy producers we believe CHP at this scale has significant potential. The technology is tried and tested too. For more on experiences at Falbygdens Energi read on…