AHDB News April 2016

Energy News for the horticultural industry April 2016 Energy News | April 2016 Pioneering biomass CHP in Yorkshire When salad crop growers, Andrew and Martin, from Edward Baarda Ltd wanted to replace their ageing, micro combined heat and power (CHP) unit, it seemed natural to consider a renewable energy alternative. An advert in the local paper led Andrew to seek out renewable equipment specialists VG Energy, whose small biomass CHP units looked to be an ideal solution. VG Energy advised him that the Entrade E3 unit, which uses wood pellets as a fuel, would suit their needs and could produce most of the electrical power needed on their nursery. The heat produced from the CHP unit would add to that already provided by the straw boiler, and further reduce the amount of gas used by the gas boiler. The system installed at the nursery comprises of two identical Entrade units, together producing 50 kW of electrical power and 120 kW of heat. The wood pellets are heated in a chamber and release combustible gases and a small amount of residual heat. The gas is used to fuel a reciprocating engine to provide further heat and electricity. Biomass CHP is approved for subsidy under the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) and it also benefits from payments for the generated electricity. Although the lead times from placing an order to getting it commissioned can often be very protracted, this wasn’t the case for Andrew. He placed the order with VG Energy in November 2015 and the system was fully installed, and producing heat and power, before Christmas. Whilst the choice of fuel appears limited, Andrew believes that wood pellets burn cleaner and more reliably than woodchip, so the units will suffer fewer breakdowns and deliver energy consistently. Entrade are also researching to see if their unit could use other biomass fuels too (for example, leftover coffee grounds), so the future could be greener still. VG Energy supports Andrew and Martin with a full service contract (including fuel supply) and now that the system is fully operational, the growers only have to think about how best to use the power and heat. VG Energy takes care of the rest, using telemetry to monitor the system performance remotely; topping up the two 20 tonne fuel hoppers when necessary and carrying out all routine services. The system will run 24/7 for most of the year, with a timetabled one month, full shutdown to enable a complete system service. Integration of the biomass CHP with the other nursery heat sources was very simple, as the heat output from the Entrade E3 makes up such a small proportion of the overall heat load. In fact, the flow from the CHP is simply plumbed into the warm water return back to the boilers. The electricity produced is manged by their existing Priva computer, which prioritises the power from the CHP and only enables the mains power when required. As the site electricity load is so high, no electricity is sold to the grid at present. However, if these units prove successful more may well be installed.