Cogeneration CHP, Europe, Strategic Development

Biomass to cogeneration

Dairy farming also places a considerable load on the electricity grid once or twice daily at peak times, although twice-daily milking is losing favour to once-daily. New Zealand cows produce more than 3,500 litres of milk each per year, requiring 116 kWh per head of electricity for harvesting and processing. Some 60% of this power is used to heat water and to chill the milk, in roughly equal amounts, while 40% is used to power the milking system, to pump water and effluent, and to provide lighting, etc.

Milk is not always collected daily and must be kept chilled below 7°C. More than 80% of dairy farms have refrigerated vats. Some water can be pre-heated by recycling the heat removed from the milk. Simple heat exchangers, such as plate coolers, are used to cool the milk before it enters the refrigerated vats.

Simple measures such as insulating the milk vats, recycling hot water and using non-peak electricity to heat water may help a farm’s profitability. However, an integrated energy system could save more energy costs and reduce demand on the electricity grid while conserving water and reducing the odour and other environmental problems of effluent disposal. Figure 1 shows the operation of one solution, under development by Natural Systems Ltd, called BioGenCool.

WINNING TEAM

In its New Spirit Challenge competition, the Institute of Electrical Engineers in the UK recognizes individuals worldwide whom it judges to be making an innovative contribution to sustainability. The author had a winning entry in the 2003 competition that outlined an integrated energy system to use dairy-shed wastes to cogenerate the heat and electricity needed to cool milk and provide hot water. The system combines three core technologies for which a patent filing has been made.

First, an anaerobic biodigester to convert the manure waste into biogas and biosolids. Secondly, a cogeneration technology, for example a Stirling genset, to use the biogas as a fuel to produce on-site power and heat. Thirdly, a cold-storage medium, such as an ice bank, with a capacity to cool the milk from cow body heat down to the required safe milk-storage temperature.


NEWS SUMMARY
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New micro-generation strategy for the UK

A new consultation paper on micro-generation from the UK Government has had a mixed response from the DE industry, with bullish statements about the growth of micro CHP among fears that a new grants programme for low carbon buildings will be neither continuous with existing programmes nor substantial. Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks launched the consultation in June, asking industry for views on the development of the microgeneration of low-carbon energy by homes, businesses and public buildings.

The Government is developing a strategy for the development of micro-generation, including microhydro, micro-wind, solar power, fuel cells, micro-CHP, and ground and air-source heat pumps. Wicks also outlined a grant scheme that could see a series of flagship low-carbon buildings developed over the next six years. The proposed Low Carbon Buildings Programme will replace existing support mechanisms which have been helping to build the embryonic UK photovoltaics industry for the last few years and is due to end in March 2006. In the new scheme, solar PV will be married to other members of the microrenewables family, plus energy efficiency, to deliver hybrid renewable energy projects in buildings.