Wednesday, January 30, 2008

BERR Listens To Renewables Obligation Waste Concerns

BERR has published the Government’s response to the consultation on the reform of the Renewables Obligation, which took place during summer 2007. In its response the Government has recognised many of the concerns raised by ESA during the consultation period.

The regulations for the measurement and sampling of biomass have been proven to be ill suited to the heterogeneity of mixed waste fuels. Consequently waste-fired power plants have been unable to satisfy Ofgem with sufficient certainty as to the biomass content of their inputs and therefore been unable to claim ROCs for their renewable generation. BERR had already conceded the principle of deeming the biomass content of waste but had previously suggested that this should be set at the conservative level of 35%. In response to ESA lobbying, the Government has now decided initially to raise the proposed deemed level to 50%, in line with the level recognised under the climate change levy.

BERR has also noted the difficulties that changes to the qualifying index for good quality combined heat and power (CHP) made to the ROC eligibility of waste-fired CHP facilities. The Government has consequently decided to change the qualifying criterion for such plants, which will now be based on a single efficiency threshold of 35% gross calorific value.

Other changes made by the Government include a commitment to the principle of grandfathering support levels for renewable electricity projects. More at ESA UK.

Possible European Biowaste and Biogas Directives to Boost Anaerobic Digestion

The European Parliament Agriculture Committee has proposed the development of an EU directive on biogas production, suggesting that there may be benefit in a joint biogas and biowaste directive.

The Committee published a draft report on 29 November 2007 arguing that such a directive should include:

• specific targets for the agricultural biogas share within the target for renewable energy production
• measures for the construction and promotion of biogas installations
• adoption of national and regional planning measures to reduce legal and administrative barriers to biogas installations
• introduction of incentives to invest in biogas plants.

The draft report urges the European Commission to present as soon as possible a proposal for a biowaste directive, including quality standards, and “invites the Commission to explore the possibility for a joint biogas and biowaste directive”.

In response, the Parliament’s Environment and Industry Committees have both made suggestions which they would like included in the Agriculture Committee’s “motion for a resolution”, including calling on the Commission to present as soon as possible a proposal for a biowaste directive. More ...

We think that everyone in the AD Community will be in favour of this.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Zero Waste is the New Target for Scotland


The Environment Secretary for Scotland has announced ambitious new plans for waste management in Scotland.

New targets of 60 percent recycling by 2020 and 70 percent by 2025 have been proposed, no more than 25 percent of waste is to be used to generate energy, while municipal waste being sent to landfill is to be reduced to 5 percent by 2025.

See view: This is going to be tough to achieve, and if 25% will be used for energy there is huge scope for Anaerobic Digestion (biogas Digesters) in Scotland, and a lot of them!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

US EPA Reports Steadily Rising Growth in Anaerobic Digestion in US

The following is an extract from the Agstar report published in November 2007:-

Construction of anaerobic digestion systems for livestock manure stabilization
and energy production has accelerated substantialy in the past several years.

The EPA estimates that there are currently about 111 digesters operating at commercial livestock facilities in the United States.

In 2007, farm digester systems produced an estimated 215 million kilowatt
hours equivalent of useable energy.

Besides generating electricity (170 million kWh), some operations use the gas as a boiler fuel, some upgrade the gas for injection
into the natural gas pipeline, and some flare gas for odor control.

Many of the projects that generate electricity also capture waste heat
for various on‐farm thermal uses.

The majority of commercially operating systems (Figure 2) are plug flow
and complete mix reactors (both tanks and covered lagoons) operating
at mesophilic temperatures
(95° ‐ 105°F).

The remainder of the systems include covered lagoons operating at a
mbient temperature, and attached growth and induced blanket reactors.

European‐style complete mix systems are also emerging in the U.S. market.

Although the majority of systems are still farm owned and operated,
using only livestock manure, other approaches are emerging.

These include the commingling of high strength organic wastes
(e.g., food waste, ag waste, cheese whey) to increase gas
production per unit volume of reactor; third party owned/operated
systems; centralized systems handling manure from multiple farms;
and direct gas sales to customers or gas utilities.

Most digester systems (80 percent) currently are found in the dairy industry in the Midwest, West, and Northeast. More here..

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Anaerobic Digestion to Get Improved ROCs Payments

UK Anaerobic Digestion Plants are to Get ROCs Subsidy Boost
BERR ROC Government Response to be included in the Energy Bill

BERR have released the government's response to the Renewables Obligation Consultation, and the proposal is to give Anaerobic Digestion the boost it was hoping for at 2.0 ROCs/MWh.

Their document summarises the responses and sets out the Government's intentions in the light of them. The government is seeking through the Energy Bill to secure the necessary primary legislative powers to make the proposed changes. The detail will be implemented through a new Renewables Obligation Order.

More information is here where the BERR pdf  [Broken Link] can be downloaded in full.

Anaerobic digestion has been placed in what is described as the "emerging" brand, and other technologies are included. Here is an excerpt from BERR's text:-

"Wave; tidal stream; fuels created using an advanced conversion technologies (anaerobic digestion; gasification and pyrolysis); dedicated biomass burning energy crops (with or without CHP); dedicated regular biomass with CHP; solar photovoltaic; geothermal, tidal Impoundment (e.g. tidal lagoons and tidal barrages (<1gw blockquote="" microgeneration.="">
- all get 2.0 ROCs/MWh, starting 1 April 2009.

Sewage gas was seen as an area for substantial increases in Anaerobic Digestion generation capacity, and existing and new anaerobic digesters, future expansion was suggested to be possible up to 0.8 TWh by 2010 by fitting new digesters to sewage treatment works which were not equipped with these at present.

It is all good news for AD, but still not, I understand, up to the level of security of price for sale of the electricity given by the German government. Your comments are welcomed below! 

Bluster and Biofuels - The Biofuels Con?

We thought that you might be interested in this investor's view on Biofuels and the Audit Committe report. I am sure Gary won't object to our potentially feeding him signups to his report page by printing this!

The Environmental Audit Committee has got it right says Smart Commodities UK editor, Garry White. Biofuels are currently a net negative for the environment...

Bluster and Biofuels
By Garry White

So, could this be the end of the biofuels con..? Let’s hope so…
The all-party Environmental Audit Committee headed by Tim Yeo will today say that the target to more than double the amount of biofuels used in the UK should be scrapped.
Yeo said: “Biofuels can reduce greenhouse gas emissions from road transport but at present most biofuels have a detrimental impact on the environment overall”.

The committee wants a moratorium on the biofuel targets. They have considered the whole cycle rather than just a part of it. They said that biofuels produced less greenhouse gases than fossil fuels when burned, but these savings are negated by the use of fertilisers, deforestation and the energy needed to process them into fuel. I could not agree more.

There are, however, dissenters form this point of view – notably the National Farmers Union (NFU).

The NFU rejected the committee’s calls for a moratorium.

“Biofuels represent the only renewable alternative for replacing fossil fuels in transport and a way of tackling the one quarter of UK carbon emissions which transport is responsible for” said NFU President, Peter Kendall.

“UK Biodiesel reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 53% and UK wheat bioethanol by 64% compared with their fossil fuel equivalents.

“Those savings can and should be improved. But for the committee to conclude that, because the savings are small, they are not worth having at all, is illogical and ill-informed.

“Of course, biofuel crops must be produced sustainably, both at home and abroad, and of course we should be developing more efficient biofuel technologies and encouraging motorists to take other measures to reduce transport emissions.

“And to criticise biofuels for using land that could otherwise be growing food when, in virtually the same breath, the Committee calls for land to be taken out of food production and given over to forestry and habitat creation shows just how muddled their thinking is.

“The best thing for the Government to do with this report is to consign it to the dustbin of history and focus instead on the infinitely more balanced and better informed report published by the Royal Society on 14 January 2008.”

The problem with this however, is that the Royal Society fudged the issue. I was at the press conference last week and one thing was made clear before it started; the report was not going to give any clear answers. The chairman said there would be no “yes” or “no” answers to anything, even though he accepted that was what the audience wanted.

This may be regarded as “good science” but when the world is looking for a solution to a major problem, sitting on the fence can do more harm than good. It’s time for people to nail their colours to the mast. I salute the Environmental Audit Committee for doing just this.


Garry White
for The Daily Reckoning

The Anaerobic Digestion News Blog is always interested to hear your views on the future of biofuels. Apart from clicking on "Comments" below, another good place to post your views and where you see them immediately displayed is by continuing to the Anaerobic Digestion Forum. You can also publicise your own business by adding a link.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

China Soon to be No. 1 in Renewable Power

China is poised to become a global leader in renewable energy in the next few years, the head of environmental research group Worldwatch Institute said recently.

"I think China will be number one in less than three years in every renewable energy market in the world" - Worldwatch president Chris Flavin said. "I am becoming increasingly confident, in the case of China in particular, that there is going to be an ability to make the transition to being at the forefront of innovation, despite contradictory forces at play in the world's most populous nation."

He added - "On the one hand, China is close to passing the US as the world's biggest producer of carbon dioxide - and, at the same time, it is becoming an innovator in the field of renewable energy."

China’s need for secure, affordable, and environmentally sustainable energy for its 1.3 billion people is palpable. In 2006, China’s energy use was already the second highest in the world, having nearly doubled in the last decade, and its electricity use is growing even faster, having doubled since 2000. With both energy-intensive industry and high-tech manufacturing, China now serves as factory to the world. Rising living standards also mean more domestic consumption, including high-energy-use items like air conditioners and cars.

While most of China’s electricity comes from coal and hydropower, the growing use of oil for China’s burgeoning vehicle fleet is adding greatly to concerns about energy security. Already, China must import nearly half of its oil. Concerns about energy security, power capacity shortages, and air pollution are all adding urgency and pressure to switch to alternative technologies and fuels, including greater energy efficiency, “clean coal” technologies, nuclear power, and renewable energy. Climate change also adds pressure—China will soon pass the United States as the largest emitter of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels.

China has become a global leader in renewable energy. It is expected to invest more than $10 billion in new renewable energy capacity in 2007, second only to Germany. Most of this is for small hydropower, solar hot water, and wind power. Meanwhile, investment in large hydropower continues at $6–10 billion annually. A landmark renewable energy law, enacted in 2005, supports continued expansion of renewables as a national priority. China currently obtains 8 percent of its energy and 17 percent of its electricity from renewables— shares that are projected to increase to 15 percent and 21 percent by 2020.

Among renewable energy sources:

Biomass power in China comes mostly from sugarcane wastes and rice husks, and has not grown in recent years. New policies will likely mean more biomass power from other sources, such as agricultural and forestry wastes. In addition, industrial-scale biogas, such as from animal wastes, is starting to make a contribution to power generation.

Biofuels for transportation have received widespread attention in China. Ethanol is produced in modest amounts from corn, and biodiesel is produced in small amounts from waste cooking oil. The government plans to expand biofuels production from cassava, sweet sorghum, and oilseed crops, although the large-scale potential is limited. The greatest promise lies with cellulosic ethanol, which many expect to become commercially viable within 7–10 years. If China could use its vast cellulosic resource of agricultural and forestry wastes—up to half a billion tons per year—it might become a major ethanol producer after 2020.

It is likely that China will meet and even exceed its renewable energy development targets for 2020. Total power capacity from renewables could reach 400 gigawatts by 2020, nearly triple the 135 gigawatts existing in 2006, with hydro, wind, biomass, and solar PV power making the greatest contributions.More than one-third of China’s households could be using solar hot water by 2020 if current targets and policies are continued. Use of other renewables, including biogas and perhaps solar thermal power, will increase as well. More..

Investment in Clean Energy Tops $100 billion in 2007

New investment in clean energy companies and assets hit $117 billion last year - up 35% on 2006's $86.5 billion, according to analysts New Energy Finance (NEF).

The figure was $20 billion ahead of the company's prediction, despite tighter conditions in the credit markets - and NEF is predicting strong growth for 2008.

NEF attributes the strong growth to the continuing strength of 'non-financial drivers' - such as regulation, political will and concerns over energy security. It also notes a shift in focus from more mature wind and biofuels markets in Western Europe and the US, towards Asia, Brazil and other developing countries.

Michael Liebreich, chief executive of NEF, said that the sector has still to increase the volume of clean and cost-effective energy it is producing to justify investors' enthusiasm. However, he added - "progress is being made on scaling-up a number of sectors - particularly wind, solar, biomass and energy efficiency. The wave of liquidity washing through the sector shows no signs of abating and, despite the dark clouds still massed over the world's credit markets, 2008 looks set to be another banner year."

Of the $117 billion, $54.5 billion went to financing renewable energy assets - up 40% on 2006. However, investments in public markets was 80% higher, at $18.9 billion, although this figure was skewed by the $6.6 billion flotation of Iberdrola Renovables in December. Excluding this outlier gives a figure of 17% growth.

Venture capital and private equity new investment grew by 27% to $8.5 billion, with a shift from later-stage investments to early-stage deals, as the pipeline of commercialisation-ready opportunities dried up, NEF said.

Wind energy accounted for almost half of new investment in projects, at $24.8 billion, compared with $18.5 billion in 2006. Of this, $8.4 billion was in Asia and Oceania - outstripping investment in the Americas at $6.6 billion - but trailing the $9.8 billion invested in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

The dramatic growth in biofuels financing slowed, to $14.5 billion, up 30% on 2006. Between 2005 and 2006, biofuels investment leapt 171%. 

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

2008 Will be Good Year for Renewable energy?

January 2, 2008 - Exclusive By David Ehrlich,

A new report says alternative energy stocks should do well in 2008, with MEMC getting a strong valuation for the sector. It could be a strong year for alternative energy as a whole, according to a new report, but the second half of 2008 could pose a problem for solar stocks.
The report from Thomas Weisel Partners, Alternative Energy: 2008 Outlook, said investor interest in the sector remains extremely high, with solar and demand response likely to get the biggest boosts in the new year.

"Public and government opinion is rapidly shifting toward increased action on
global warming, carbon emissions, renewable energy generation and new
energy-efficiency technologies," said Jeff Osborne, an analyst at Thomas Weisel,
in the report.

Over the past six months there's been a pronounced shift in the types of investors inquiring about stocks that Thomas Weisel covers, according to Osborne, with portfolio managers appearing to be building a cleantech theme for part of their portfolios. More...

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Come on Gordon Let's Get on with Bio-Energy Production in 2008

Happy New Year all subscribers! Here's hoping for a great new year for Anaerobic Digestion and biogas projects generally.

Here is a rallying call to all for the start of 2008...

Considering that about 60 % of the total amount of UK animal manure could be handled at biogas plants in future, the potential of primary energy from biogas is a small but significant percentage of the UK renewable energy target.

Using renewable energy from biogas eliminates greenhouse gas production and reduces the use of non-renewable fossil fuel. So why is this target not being pursued more vigorously by the UK government?

Gordon Brown introduced the possibility in the Climate Change Bill of raising the target for cutting carbon emissions by 80% by 2050 (NCE Magazine (eMap) 22 November 2007).

However, a simple calculation tells us that, even if we start now, that implies a steady reduction of 3.7% per year (compounded year on year) for the next 43 years.

This is surely a big burden and even the existing target of reducing by "only" 60% implies a 2.1% reduction per year.

Can the UK really do that? Don’t also forget that the population of the UK is forecast to grow by possibly 30% over the same period.

I am sure that the pundits will say that the national economy will be very likely to suffer.

Will members of the public go along with that? They possibly will, but only if they can see the path forward and that the systems being invested in are truly green.

Of course they will understand this is the case, especially for bioenergy, however, the energy experts and engineers explain to them that some energy-saving technologies can bring them financial benefit if up-front investment is made soon enough.

The experts will also need to explain the reality of ‘peak oil’, how we have never known when this will be upon us and still have very little idea. However, current escalation of oil prices will pale into insignificance once the threshold is upon us. For all we know peak oil might occur next year, or not for 20 years, but peak oil will happen, and when it does they will want the then relatively cheap bioenergy to fill the gap.

Bioenergy (including biogas energy) is only one of the technologies which will succeed if explained in this way. Draught-controlling passive house ventilation is another example where the public save money as well as enhancing the environment.

Now is the chance of our readers, especially those visitors who are active professionals in the bio-energy field to take the lead and achieve that respected high profile long sought by those in the renewables and biogas industries.

Biological Gas Desulphurization Process Wins IChemE Award

A biological gas desulphurization process developed as a result of co-operation between Shell Global Solutions International B.V. (Shell Global Solutions) and Paques has received a major accolade at the annual awards of the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) held in London.

The team was awarded the ‘Sellafield Award for Engineering Excellence’ for the development of a biological gas desulphurization process, which integrates gas purification with sulphur recovery. The award recognizes outstanding contributions to safety, the environment, sustainable development and other aspects of the chemical and bioprocess industries.

A major benefit of the biological gas desulphurization process is its simplicity. In excess of 99.8% of the hydrogen sulphide can be removed and, depending on pressure, less than 4ppm hydrogen sulphide is possible in the treated gas. In the process, virtually all the hydrogen sulphide is turned to elemental sulphur so there is no need for flaring or incineration of hydrogen sulphide containing off-gasses.

The technology used – originally developed in cooperation with Wageningen University – avoids many of the challenges associated with redox chemistry through non-fouling or hydrophilic nature of the bio-sulphur produced. This bio-sulphur can be used in the manufacturing of fertilizer.

The Shell Global Solutions Gas Treating department together with Paques B.V. developed the biological gas desulphurization process which integrates gas purification with sulphur recovery in one process unit and it is well proven having been in operation since 2002. It is designed to be easy to operate and has limited maintenance requirements with a high on-stream time. A key benefit for the operator is that direct treatment of high-pressure natural gas and syngas can lead to significant operator cost savings making it ideal for use with LNG plants and gasification units.

An additional safety feature of the process is that once the gas leaves the absorber there is no free hydrogen sulphide. More ...

Webmaster: As Paque is a biogas specialist company this process can presumably be used for scrubbing digester biogas as well as LNG, and gasification units for use of biogas in natural gas systems and vehicles. However, this would need checking with the supplier.

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