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CfD Causing Unfair And Unjustifiable Uncertainty

We believe combined heat and power (CHP) projects using UK waste wood should have a long-term beneficial role as part of the UK’s future energy mix, as is the case in Scandinavia and other parts of Europe. 

An abundance of raw materials for CHP plants

As an energy source, waste wood is not dependent on sun or wind and has the potential to provide consistent, sustainable, low-cost heat and power for industry and domestic use.  Not only that, but with 10 million tonnes of forest thinning’s, stumps and bark being wasted or transported overseas, recycling low-grade waste wood as a cheap energy source to power local CHP in the UK seems an obvious solution. 

CfD has a negative effect on investors confidence

However, as we move from Renewable Obligations to Contracts for Difference (CfD) investor confidence is suddenly faltering at the very time when biomass renewables in the UK seemed to be gaining ground. This is likely to have a damaging effect on the take-up of biomass EfW projects, especially the more beneficial small- to medium-size plants where local industries and communities can benefit.  This is a great shame, particularly when companies such as ours have been so successful in pioneering the technology to generate sustainable biomass energy which is already delivering returns on investment.

CfD process is “another reason not to”

The complexity, length and opaque nature of the CfD process is the root of the problem. Already this is sending a signal to potential investors who will be unwilling to invest time, energy and capital in planning potential biomass investments if the CfD process remains unsupportive. A bidding process that pitches biomass against alternative technologies in this way clearly needs re-evaluation.

CfD obscures the reality & benefits

The way that funding is split under CfDs into three pots is partly to blame. Biomass Energy with CHP for example shares Pot 2 for ‘Less Established Technologies’ with Offshore Wind. But experience so far however has seen the dominance of Offshore Wind completely denying awards to biomass schemes.  This seems ludicrous when waste wood is such an abundant resource in the UK.  It is a resource we are squandering, much of it being exported for the benefit of biomass projects in Northern Europe.

The data tells the story

The results from the first CfD auction were quite striking. Of the 27 contracts awarded, none were to Biomass Energy and only 5 were waste-related.  Of the Pot 2 allocation it was totally dominated by two Offshore Wind Projects totalling 1,162MWe. In addition there were three Advanced Conversion Technology (ACT) projects awarded totalling 62MWe. However, it meant that no CfD’s were awarded to Biomass CHP projects which were effectively squeezed from the Pot.  Albeit at an early stage, it appears that the current process favours big business and this is something we would like to see being re-evaluated to ensure an even playing field.

CfD postponement send the wrong message

Further doubts were sown in July when DECC announced the postponement of the next CfD auction round as this can create further uncertainty for investors. If the government believes that biomass energy solutions using waste wood and other renewables should play a part in a balanced and secure UK energy future then the CfD process should needs to be more supportive. 

Read my comment in MRW’s November issue full article…HERE

Matt Drew – Managing Director

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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