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Fuel Cell micro-Cogeneration: Cutting CO2 emissions by 2 tonnes per household every year!

A micro-cogeneration installation can help save up to 2 tons of CO2 per housing unit, a good step forward for decarbonisation in Europe. Moreover, micro-cogeneration can be combined with heat pumps to improve performance, as well as being integrated into renewable energy systems to guarantee a constant supply when these are not available. We asked Mike Small to explain the PACE program, focused on promoting micro-cogeneration in Europe.

By the Cogeneration Channel

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Decarbonising the energy system - Empowering consumers to become part of the solution

Ambitious EU targets for substantially decarbonising the energy system by 2050 are heavily dependent on almost total decarbonisation of electricity production, generally considered one of the “easier” sectors and one which has demonstrated significant and sustained carbon reductions since 1990.

It is then assumed that more challenging sectors, such as heat and transport, can be decarbonised by using low or zero carbon electricity to displace conventional, fossil fuels.  Notwithstanding the technical constraints in end-use technologies, this does at first sight appear to be a rational approach.

There is, however, perhaps a risk that simply transferring the burden from other sectors, which face more severe technical challenges, may result in disproportionate costs in the electricity sector and costlier overall system investments.

If we are to achieve an optimal system design, it is important to consider sector coupling; this will include synergies between, for example, the energy storage potential of electric vehicles and peak electrical demands for electric heat pumps but will also need to consider how (lower carbon) gas technologies can either displace peak electric heat demand or, better still, generate electricity as a by-product of heat during those periods.  One technology which can help in this area is micro CHP which burns gas to produce heat for the home in which it is installed, but also simultaneously generates electricity which can support the increased demand for electricity to power heat pumps exactly when it is most needed.

It will also be necessary to consider how consumers can be empowered to become part of the solution by investing in appropriate microgeneration technologies which support the overall energy system.  

Delta’s analysis has clearly shown the economic benefits of engaging consumers to deliver a balanced transition to a sustainable energy system, rather than imposing a dogmatic, top down approach.


by Jeremy Harrison

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Future trends in small-scale cogeneration

Cogeneration is one the most flexible ways to generate power and heat. Cogeneration (of Combined Heat & Power/CHP) units can be easily integrated within energy sources of different sizes and demands.

In TEDOM we have our own research and development department that is not only developing new solutions related to the CHP units design but is also active in finding new ways of CHP technology implementation. We see cogeneration as an inherent part of a complex energy system, that will always add variability and flexibility to the mix.

In the future, renewable energy sources will represent a significant part of the energy mix. However, renewable energy sources are unpredictable and are not always there when you need them. Cogeneration can face these challenges and balance the grid when the wind is not blowing and the sun is not shining.

TEDOM is running 2 very different energy projects:
1. Distributed power plant with more than 130 remotely controlled CHP units, which has proven to be very flexible in supplying electricity to the grid;
2. Automated off-grid energy system, which consists of solar panels, batteries and a CHP unit and is fully grid independent (to the contrary of the first project).

Both these projects use CHP units in an unorthodox but very efficient way. In the beginning, the projects were rather experimental, but after some months of optimization and fine-tuning, they evolved into two working and fully reliable power sources.


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Future with renewables is reliable, affordable and sustainable

Renewable energy sources have already made a tangible and permanent impact to power systems globally – and we have only seen the start of it! Renewables, notably wind and solar, in the power systems will permanently change the dispatch and power system design principles sooner than we think.

As the energy markets continue to reduce their carbon footprint by utilising renewable energy sources, the need for flexibility in power generating is becoming increasingly apparent. Need for flexibility varies from short-term frequency balancing to long-term seasonal balancing. Since renewables are inherently intermittent with a largely unpredictable supply of energy, utilities require fast-responding assets capable of reaching full output instantly. Time is money in increasingly complex energy markets.

It is a question of not only operational costs and supply reliability, but also potential earnings. In Europe, the current pricing structure within the European Energy Exchange (EEX) is shaped by intermittency of supply. In the future, fluctuations in price determinants will favour fast-acting flexible generation.

Future-proof investments are flexible and adaptable. We have already now quite a few examples of modern, state-of-the-art power plants like Kraftwerke Mainz-Wiesbaden AG’s (KMW) in Germany and the two new Centrica plants in the UK, to name a few. They are strengthening energy security, easing the integration of renewables, and therefore drastically lowering greenhouse gas emissions.

The energy transition is happening now – renewables will become the new baseload. Wärtsilä’s Smart Power Generation together with storage solutions brings the needed flexibility to the power systems, and enables transition to modern power system. We have all the potential already today to start to build a path towards 100% renewable energy systems.

By Wärtsilä Energy Solutions

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100% renewable gas by 2050 in France

ADEME, GRDF and GRTgaz have recently released a study on the technical and economic feasibility of 100% renewable origin gas. Using different assumptions about how each of the production sectors may develop as its starting point and as part of an ongoing process to improve energy efficiency and gain greater control over energy consumption, this study presents 4 scenarios, 3 of which envisage a 100% renewable gas mix. Here are the main findings of the study:

A theoretical potential of 460 TWh of renewable gas.
The injectable renewable gas resource estimated at 460 TWh could cover the gas demand in France in full in 2050 according to all the scenarios. Three large production sectors of renewable gas are studied: methanisation (30% of the resource), pyrogasification (40%), and power-to-gas (30%). The technical potentials are based on available resources which do not compete with food uses and raw materials.

Gas demand of between 276 and 361 TWh in 2050 can be satisfied by renewable gas for an overall cost of between €116 and €153/MWh.
A 100 % renewable gas mix would avoid direct emissions of about 63 Mt CO2/year which equates to 12.6 billion euros for a carbon tax at €200/t of CO2. France would strengthen its energy independence and improve its trade balance. According to the scenario studied, the study establishes that the cost of renewable gas is between €116/MWh and €153/MWh, which includes the cost of production, storage, use and adaptation of the gas networks.

The complementarity of the gas network with the electricity network is a key success factor in achieving a strongly renewable energy mix.
This study reinforces the fact that with a high level of renewable energy production, natural gas and electricity systems will interact strongly and will evolve jointly. Power-to-gas will be used to ensure that surplus production of renewable electricity is not wasted by providing inter-seasonal storage capacity in the gas network. Renewable gas will also contribute to balancing the electricity system with therma l power plants by using renewable gas to provide energy during peak periods.

By Gaz Réseau Distribution France

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Energy efficiency: a strategic requirement for industrial policies

Cogeneration has proved to be an economically and environmentally friendly technology that is ideally fit for highly specialised sectors such as the chemical and pharmaceutical sectors. As part of its green policy, Eli Lilly, a global pharmaceutical company headquartered in Indianapolis (USA), invests in energy efficiency on its production sites, also in Italy. As early as the 1990s, Eli Lilly Italy explored the potential of cogeneration; after a few evalutations, in 2012 the company installed a 2.7 MWe system that allows it to be almost entirely self-sufficient for its electricity and thermal energy production. The economic and climate benefits are clear with lower energy bills and less emissions!



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Energy efficiency will have to come first

Professor Diana Ürge-Vorsatz, Director of the Center for Climate Change and Sustainable Energy Policy at the Central European University, explains to the Cogeneration Channel how we can decarbonise our European energy system by 2050. See the interview below.


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