Asia, Biomass, Cogeneration CHP

Biomass the key to new cogeneration in Asia

Germany-based on-site power company Deutz Power Systems has established a second Asian subsidiary company, Deutz Power Systems Asia-Pacific, in Singapore to service what it sees a ‘high growth’ Asian market for its products, except for China. That country is already being looked after by a busy subsidiary opened in Beijing previously.

Deutz’s achievements were rather at odds with a prevailing view from some equipment suppliers at the Power-Gen Asia exhibition and conference held in Bangkok, Thailand last week. This was that more developed parts of Asia simply want maximum power generating capacity to be delivered as soon as possible, and that nuances such as high efficiency cogeneration were something to be looked, perhaps, at a future date. That’s in contrast to the poorer parts of Asia, which simply cannot afford new generating capacity of any sort.

The hangover effects of the Asian financial crisis of a few years ago have faded away and orders for new generating plant are returning – so said Mark Takahashi from the Hong Kong-based independent power project developer One Energy. The company is targeting active markets in Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan and Thailand, added Takahashi, although western companies are beginning to face competition from suppliers based in Korea and China.

Deutz says it has sold engine-based CHP systems to serve several shopping centres in the region, a pig farm in Thailand and two lithium mines in China. The company has also installed a CHP system which produces more than 5 MW of heat and a similar amount of power from mine gas to serve a coal mine in Shanxi province, China. Bangladesh is perhaps a less-obvious market, but the company has also installed CHP plants to serve a shrimp processing factory and a textile production site there.

Thailand’s Minister for Energy, Dr Pyasvastit Amranand, described in the closing plenary session his country’s growing small power producer sector, which operates on a variety of waste biomass items: paddy husks, palm oil empty bunches, bagasse, rice straw – together with biogases from wastewater treatment plants. Some 84 such plants already operate in Thailand , with another 100 plants smaller than 10 MWe in size. Some of these are cogeneration plants; other supply electricity for use on-site and all are incentivized by a Government’s scheme which adds revenue top-ups (‘adders’) of between 0.3 and 8 Bhats/kWh (US$0.01 and 0.25) generated and sold to the grid.

Some of these schemes are based on very small gas turbines. Chistof Hauer of Siemens Power Generation described his company’s recent experience of installing very small (less than 5 MWe) turbines into on-site energy projects at palm oil and rice husk facilities – as well as paper and pulp mills and sugar mills – in Thailand and Malaysia. Many of these operate in island mode, ie not connected to the grid.

However, even in those locations were cogeneration and on-site renewables schemes are being developed, they are being lost among the rapid growth in total power generating capacity from he addition of large-scale electricity-only plant.

Aside from on-site energy, the main topics of discussion seemed to be around the return to favour of coal-based projects in Asia and the positive prospects for nuclear energy schemes in several countries. Thailand expects to have a new law in place by the end of this year to enable the construction of a pair of new nuclear power plants by 2014.