CHP projects develop worldwide

By Anna Austin
NPower Cogen, an energy company that serves the U.K. and the Republic of Ireland, was recently awarded $16 million as part of a Regional Selective Assistance grant from the Scottish government to build a 45-megawatt-per-year combined-heat-and-power (CHP) plant that will provide steam and electricity to a papermaker in Scotland. The plant, expected to be complete before 2011, will produce power using a variety of woody biomass.

Manitoba Hydro recently announced incentives for the installation and use of biomass CHP systems, as part of the Canadian company's Power Smart Program. The program provides loans and incentives for residential, commercial and industrial customers to maximize energy efficiency, and reduce energy costs and overall emissions.

Wärtsilä Power, a Finnish company with a track record in supplying biofueled CHP plants, recently installed the world's first CHP plant that runs on jatropha-based biodiesel in Marksplas, Belgium. It said its CHP systems can improve plant efficiency more than 90 percent.

According to the U.S. EPA, one of the most important considerations for a successful biomass CHP project is the proximity to the fuel source. Benefits of installing the systems include lower operation and energy costs, reduced emissions, reduced grid congestion, and increased reliability and power quality. Biofueled CHP systems represent a permissible renewable energy resource, and in some U.S. states, renewable energy credits can be generated from the use of biomass to power a CHP system. Such biofuel projects often
qualify for additional state incentives that traditional CHP systems are ineligible to receive.

The U.K.-based Heating and Ventilating Contractors' Association has published two new manuals, one of which details the installation of CHP systems while the other details the installation of biofuel-based heating. Both are now for sale on the company's Web site. The 31-page CHP manual provides an overview of different applications such as micro-CHP for the domestic sector, benefits, limitations, requirements and some outline design information for each application. The biofuel heating guide includes different application types and fuels, with a large focus on wood, including pellets, briquettes, chips and logs.

"The low carbon rating of biomass is very attractive for meeting emission targets, but its suitability has to be carefully evaluated," said Graham Manly, technical committee chairman of the HVCA. "Whilst using biomass as a fuel has had limited application in the U.K. in the past, its development has continued in Europe, where there is less dependency on a gas infrastructure."