Tag Archives: Biomass

Germany generated that much renewable energy, they actually paid people to use it!

17 May

What a time to be alive – on Sunday 8th May 2016, Germany produced an incredible amount of renewable energy. For a few hours, the European nation went full ‘green’. Its power grid had surplus, and for a few hours residents actually earned money from using electricity, rather than paying for it. We were just as shocked as you!

The weather was so sunny and windy that at about 1pm in the day, the wind, hydro, solar and biomass plants in Germany generated 87% (55GW) of the entire amount of power (63GW) being consumed in the country. It’s an astonishing achievement and one that unfortunately the industry just was not expecting.

In 2015, Germany’s renewable energy mix was at 33% but Germany managed to use the sun, wind and rain to provide 87 per cent of an entire country’s energy requirements which is an incredible achievement. Usually, renewables just top up the main supply. Gas plants were actually shut down due to the green surge, but nuclear and coal plants couldn’t suspend activity fast enough. It meant the grid was overrun with power.

So Germany’s target of becoming 100% renewable by 2050 (which Denmark is currently hitting) seems not as ambitious as once thought. Germany will of course need to keep some of its nuclear and coal plants running due to the unpredictability of its renewable energy sources as they are dependent on the weather. In July last year, Denmark’s wind power was generating 140% of its demand, meaning energy could be sent over to Germany, Norway and Sweden.

At the moment there is a north/south split in the country, as wind turbines are located mostly in the north of Germany and solar power plants in the south. The authorities are also wanting to phase out nuclear power by 2022. With the country making exciting gains towards its goal, experts believe Germany to be a good role model for other developed countries.

It has been argued that the grid needs to become more flexible in order for the transition to renewable energy to be successful. Presently, renewable energy plants generating a lot of energy on sunny and blustery days have to push it into the grid, resulting in inefficiency and these negative prices. But with developed grid management and power storage technology, sudden spikes could be handled better and utilised in a more effective way.

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The UK is building the world’s largest biomass plant!

14 Aug

Good news for the biomass lovers out there. Middlesbrough is to be the site of the world’s largest new power and steam biomass plant as part of a new £424m project. The project will have a capacity of 299 MW combined heat and power (CHP), enough to power at least 600,000 UK households. The plant will yield enough renewable energy for its own processes while supplying power to commercial and residential utility customers in the area by burning wood pellets mostly sourced from American and European forests.

The Tees Renewable Energy Plant (REP) will be constructed by Abengoa and Toshiba and will cost approximately £424m. The brains behind the operation say the fuel source will be in compliance with the UK’s incentives for renewable energy.

Toshiba and Abengoa, an environmental technology company based in Spain, will lead the project for the customer, MGT Teesside, who are a subsidiary of the British utility MGT Power. A biomass power plant of this type is referred to as a combined heat and power or CHP plant. This type of technology currently helps provide around 7% of the UK’s electricity by mixing heat and electricity production into a single process. The development will also help reduce the UK’s carbon footprint using the CHP technology.

MGT says the project will help meet the UK’s national renewable energy goal of 15% of all energy consumed by 2020 by accounting for around 1 percent of the target. In addition, the company estimates that the plant will save approximately 1.2 million tonnes of CO2 each year.

In 2014, according to figures from the Department of Energy and Climate Change, CHP technology saved the UK £250m in fuel costs.

Spanish firm Abengoa has now been granted the construction of two power and steam biomass plants in less than a year, the other being a 215 MW plant in Ghent, Belgium. These two projects reinforce Abengoa’s capacity to develop complex projects, as well as its pledge to sustainable development. At the time, the Ghent Project was the world’s largest biomass CHP plant.

Construction is estimated to begin as soon early 2016, as funding is secured. The plant is then looking to be up and running by 2019, which will prove useful when offsetting coal and gas usage to work with the UK’s 2020 energy goals.

The project’s engineering and construction is estimated to create around 1,100 jobs during the construction phase.

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