Advice Notes on Anaerobic Digestion Economics for the NPA Region

AD

The Advice Notes aim to provide introductory material for entrepreneurs, startups and SME’s, considering to enter into the renewable energy sphere and based in the NPA regions partners to GREBE. The scope of the Advice Note covers regional, trade and industry, renewable energy (RE), technology information from Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Iceland and Finland. Different partner regions have different level of deployment of the various RE technologies covered by the Advice Notes. Thus, the level of information will vary depending on the level of deployment for each technology. For example, wind is not deployed on a large scale in North Karelia (Finland); however, it is widely deployed in Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Full details are available on the GREBE website:

http://grebeproject.eu/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/GREBE-Advice-Notes-AD.pdf

The focus of the Advice Notes is on regional information of some of the main economic characteristics sited as imperative, when making an informed choice, regarding which RE technology may be the optimal choice for a new business venture:

  • Costs and economics associated with the relevant technology
  • Support schemes available, relevant to the technology
  • Government allowance/exemptions, relevant to the technology
  • Funding available for capital costs of the relevant technology
  • List of the relevant to the technology suppliers/developers, with focus on local/regional, suppliers/developers and the products and services they offer.

Anaerobic Digestion (AD) is the breakdown of organic material by micro-organisms in the absence of oxygen. The term AD commonly refers to low-temperature biological conversion, with the resulting product (biogas) typically being 60% methane and 40% CO 2. AD technology uses vacuum-packed digesters in which a bacterial culture is sustained in anaerobic environments that stimulate the production of methane. Many forms of feedstock are suitable for AD; including food waste, slurry and manure, as well as crops and crop residues. AD produces biogas, a methane-rich gas that can be used in different ways:

  • In an internal combustion engine or turbine to generate electricity, and heat
  • Combustion in a boiler for process steam or hot water
  • Combustion in process equipment
  • Cleaned, compressed and injected into the natural gas grid
  • Cleaned, compressed and used as a road transport fuelAD 2

In addition to biogas the AD produces residual solid fibre and, also known as digestate, which can be used as a fertiliser, depending on the nutrient value of the digitate. Thus, it may have additional value in some circumstances.

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Claremorris and Western District Energy Co-operative develops mobile demonstration unit for biogas

Claremorris and Western District Energy Co-operative is a community enterprise focused on the development and commercialization of renewable energy technologies. The group’s focus is to develop financially viable renewable energy projects through education programmes with key competencies in district heating, solar, biogas, and Micro grid applications. The Co-Op also aims to educate the community on the benefits of community ownership, and renewable energy, on what it is and its impacts.

The AD Demonstration unit (trailer) for biogas with support from Gas Networks Ireland to overcome the lack of understanding of anaerobic digestion and the elements which contribute to development of biogas solutions.

The Co-Op developed a mobile demonstration unit for biogas with support from the Renewable Gas Forum Group / Gas Networks Ireland to educate the public on the benefits of biogas. One of the barriers to entry for this technology is that landowners and local residents’ interests often oppose AD projects believing it may impact on land values, businesses or cause smells and so want to restrict the development of anaerobic digestion plants. The development of this demonstration unit allows communities to ask good questions about technologies and to gain an understanding of how AD operates.

As a result of the demonstration stand at the National Ploughing Championships in 2015, the Co-Op has been invited to demonstrate the unit to 27 different groups. The co-op has developed the original anaerobic digestion demonstration unit to include CO2 extraction, iodine, biogas compression and storage, and consider how CO2 emissions might be addressed. It highlights a means of addressing CO2 emissions from agriculture.

http://grebeproject.eu/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Anaerobic-Digestion-Claremorris-Energy-Cooperative-Ireland.pdf

 

 

 

IrBEA Seeks to Appoint a Chief Executive

irbea1

A New chief executive is being recruited for the Irish Bioenergy Association (IrBEA) to champion the case of the growing bioenergy sector, including wood energy, biomass, anaerobic digestion and biogas and energy crops.

The new recruit will lead and manage the busy Association’s activities and will operate under the direction of the President and the Board of Directors. He/she will also lead, manage and oversee the administration and business of the Association, Des O’Toole, IrBEA President, said.

“IrBEA is looking for candidates with a minimum of three years proven management and leadership in a member association, or an SME, with a degree-level qualification, familiarity with good corporate governance practice and an understanding of the Renewable Energy/Bioenergy sectors in Ireland. They should have some experience of working with stakeholders in the sector and in the relevant Government Departments.”

IrBEA is a members’ association with approximately 170 members. It features a number of sub-groups covering, typically, Bioenergy Northern Ireland, Biogas and Anaerobic Digestion, District Heating, Domestic Biomass Fuels, Energy Crops, REFIT and Grid Connections, Renewable Heat Incentive. The Association sponsors and provides administrative support to the Wood Fuel Quality Assurance Scheme.

The new Chief Executive will be required to work with the President and Board of Directors to define and implement strategy in accordance with the constitution of the association. He/she will provide effective leadership to the staff of the Association and be responsible and accountable for the proper management and safeguarding of all funds under the control of the Association, consistent with good financial management.

The position will be offered as a two-year contract, with a 6-month probationary period. The new Chief Executive will be expected to work full-time from the IrBEA office which is currently located in DCU Alpha, Glasnevin. The salary is negotiable.

  • Completed applications should be emailed to the IrBEA secretary, Padraic O’Neill, at padraic@envirovalue.ie by 12 pm on Friday 6th July 2018. A detailed job specification including the full requirements of the application process are available on the Association’s website irbea.org

Power from Biomass project final seminar, Monday 11th June, Joensuu

KUAS

The Rural development programme co-financed Power from Biomass project completed its work in June 2018 after three years of renewable energy development in North Karelia, Finland. The project cooperating closely with GREBE in North Karelia, resulted in several new investments including two solar PV and energy storage systems in community buildings of Höljäkkä and Haikola in Nurmes. Project also established a regional network of 15 renewable energy demonstration sites.

The final seminar held in Joensuu, presented projects main outputs, latest developments in renewable electricity production, biomass-based small-scale combined heat and power, solar energy project of heat enterprises, and intelligent solar PV systems.

Project manager Antti Niemi from Pielinen Karelia Development Company PIKES Ltd. summarized the project results. The project established a regional demonstration network with 15 sites demonstrating renewable energy production systems. The Energiaraitti website presents the technical and economic information and live-information of solar PV systems. New production units established were mostly solar PV and some energy storages systems in farms, other rural enterprises and community buildings. The biomass-based renewable energy had a challenging business environment due to low price of fossil fuel oil. Despite, also some new biomass-based energy systems were established.

Project manager Kim Blomqvist from Karelia UAS presented the solar PV systems integrated into biomass-based district heating plants. Investments were made for 7 district heating plants with total annual production of 52 MWh. The heating plans were considered suitable for the solar PV as they have balanced electricity demand.

Marketing and product development manager Kimmo Tolvanen, representing regional energy company PKS, presented an in-depth overview of the energy system development in Finland and North Karelia. The main game changers in the energy system are expected to consist of wind and solar power production, energy storages and digitalization working all effectively together. The energy grid changes toward decentralised, intelligent and adaptive systems are evident. In addition, electricity markets are in transition, and new service developments are expected throughout the system from production to consumption.

Project coordinator Anssi Kokkonen from Karelia UAS presented the technical solutions of biomass-based combined heat and power production. The solutions included woodchip gasification plant (Volter Ltd.), Nano-chp Stirling engine (9 kWth + 0.6 kWe), fuelled by wood pellets (Ökofen).  Both solutions are demonstrated at Sirkkala Energy Park by Karelia UAS.

Project manager Toni Hannula from energy company ESE (Etelä-Savon Energia, Mikkeli) presented intelligent solar power systems. The smart energy transition project by Lappeenranta Technological University has generated an overview of the systems change. The ESE has been successful in establishing biogas fuel stations, and piloting intelligent solar PV systems with 48 hours production forecast and directing the production optimally depending on energy price (electricity spot-price optimizing) and production and consumption loads. The system is piloted in Lumme Energia Oy estates.

The Power from Biomass project developed as a diverse renewable energy project and delivered several new services and RE production sites were established. The project had an international element through cooperation and networks of the GREBE project.

Green Gas Collaborative Network

Hydrogen refueling on the hydrogen filling station on the motor show

Action Renewables is acting as a facilitator for a Collaborative Network trying to stimulate green gas in the transport sector. Partners in the collaborative network are Translink, Belfast City Council, B9 Solutions, Queens University Belfast, Agri AD, Granville Ecoparks, Hydrogen Green Power and Red Kite Management.  These partners have been working together since October 2017. The Network will carry out a scoping study to determine what opportunities exist in the development of a supply chain for the production and distribution of biogas, particularly in respect of the transport sector.

Key objectives are to look at:

  • Technical and cost requirements involved in producing green gas, biogas and green hydrogen
  • The size of the potential market for gaseous biofuels
  • The export potential for gaseous biofuels produced in Northern Ireland
  • Financial return/business models associated with the use of green gas in various sectors
  • How an innovative fuel supply chain in Northern Ireland could align itself in order to comply with the requirements of the new RTFO scheme
  • Benefits of delivering an alternative fuel supply network in terms of emission reduction; air quality; job creation; and potential inward investment
  • Identifying enabling technologies, skills and resources necessary to take advantage of these new opportunities
  • Identifying the relevant skills gaps and how best these can be mitigated against either from within the group or by seeking additional expertise from other sources
  • Recommendations that will best accelerate the longer-term growth of participating companies as a result of having taken part in the project
  • The appetite to create a formal biogas supply chain collaborative network whose members can collectively and individually grow their businesses and the sector

It was Invest Northern Ireland that launched the Collaborative Network Growth Programme in Northern Ireland in December 2016. Invest NI allocated £5.7million funding over five years to help stimulate innovation among local businesses. One hundred per cent funding up to £25,000 is available to industry-led networks requiring facilitation support to scope innovative collaborative projects.

At the launch it was said that “Innovation is absolutely essential to wider economic growth and the Collaborative Growth Programme will support SMEs to combine expertise, funding and contacts to develop new products and services and open up new business opportunities worldwide.

Action Renewables will publish The Green Gas Collaborative Network findings in a report due out in June 2018.

New support scheme discussed at the Vaasa Energy Week

Fortrum Norway

In Finland, the regulation concerning the support schemes for renewable energy are going through significant changes. A new legislative proposal presents a technology-neutral subsidy scheme based on a competitive bidding process with premiums. The topic was discussed by market players and industry at Energy Regulation Workshop (March 21st, Vaasa City hall).

In 2010 Finland introduced feed-in tariff as economic support mechanism for wind, biogas and wood fuel based combined heat and power. The mechanism has been effective in creating wind power capacity from below 1% market share to about 5.7%. However, the scheme has been also expensive as the electricity market price has been lower than expected. The feed-in tariff for wind, biogas and wood fuel power plants comprises the target price less than the three-month mean market price of electricity. The target price is €83.50/MWh. At the beginning of the scheme the market price varied €45 to €55/MWh but at the end of the support period it has been €30 to €35MWh.

In Vaasa Energy Week preparation of the support scheme based on a competitive bidding process with premiums was discussed. Total of 2 TWh of renewable energy would be generated through the scheme. However, details of the scheme, definitions concerning technological neutrality and schedule of the scheme remained open. Several presentations, representing the industry and market players, forecasted significant increase of the wind power capacity in Finland – despite the details of the new support scheme. For instance one major market player, OX2 informed about their own objectives for Finland being 500-600 MW of wind power, which is about the same as the 2TWh objective. This major market growth would be based on:

  • large number of projects prepared during the feed-in tariff system
  • interest among investors
  • fast technological development (bigger turbines, rotors, towers)
  • competitive procurement processes, and
  • large base of experienced and internationally active project developer

In addition, PPA’s i.e. Power Purchase Agreements, were seen as growing business model with customer being larger-scale companies with RE commitments. Also the length of those agreements can be over 10 year periods. The forecasted future was that 5-10 market players would dominate the market, and scale of the wind power systems could be divided into large-scale market based systems and smaller systems more dependent on the economic supports. As Finland is much dependent on the imported energy (share 23.9%) the growth potential is evident. At the same time the grid imbalances and volatility are increasing.

The support scheme preparation was considered still as uncertain and delays investment decisions. In addition, market players considered that the system might not be equal but favoring more large-scale projects. As the technological neutrality is still undefined, it remains open how the support treats different technologies and introduction of new innovations. The policy advocacy activities are part of the GREBE project, and in Finland the focus will be on informing the project stakeholders about the current transition of the national and regional energy system and related policies.

Land competition between biogas plants and farmers

Silage

Northern Ireland’s expanding renewable energy industry is hungry for good quality land, pricing out farmers and now seeking leases in the Republic. Rental values for productive grassland in the north coast area of Northern Ireland have seen a sharp increase within the past fortnight as competition intensifies between larger dairy units looking to expand and farmers looking to produce grass for anaerobic digestion (AD) plants in the area.

Farmers and auctioneers report prices as high as £450/acre (€512/acre) have been paid at auction for top-quality silage ground in the Coleraine area to supply AD plants. Other auctions have seen silage ground making over £400/acre (€457/acre). With limited ground coming on to the rental market, the knock-on effect has seen conacre prices for less productive grassland in the surrounding area also rising, with reports of £200/acre (€228/acre) to £300/acre (€342/acre)being paid on leases secured in January. While some of these prices are inflated by area-based payments, there is no doubt that AD plant operators are in a strong position to bid as a result of government subsidies for AD.

Operators of AD plants in Northern Ireland have also begun to lease land south of the border to grow feedstock such as grass or maize silage. One auctioneer, one farmer and one agribusiness representative in the border area of the Republic reported that farmers in north Co Monaghan had difficulty competing with NI biogas producers for land leases. While this is reported to be on a small scale and the sources had no figures available, pressure could increase in the future as renewable energy support schemes become available from the end of this year in the Republic.

Source: https://www.farmersjournal.ie/land-competition-between-biogas-plants-and-farmers-343219