There’s always something happening in what is by far the largest cogeneration market in Europe, Germany, with its schemes from the micro to the macro. In the last couple of weeks, E.ON subsidiary HanseWerk has brought on-stream a fourth cogeneration/district heating plant in the northern port of Hamburg, and E.ON itself has entered an alliance with two industrial companies in the Ruhr region’s Dortmund to transfer ‘waste’ heat from one to the other. Meanwhile, the University of Göttingen has commissioned a new cogeneration scheme.
While the first and last of these are largely conventional CHP schemes, they both also exhibit some of the innovative features required for modern power grids. E.ON claims an overall efficiency of over 95 per cent for its new plant installed in Hamburg, having worked with engine manufacturer GE Jenbacher to ensure that the scheme can also take on a grid stabilization function. HanseWerk is incorporating the new scheme into its larger ‘virtual’ power plant, which can rapidly reduce or increase its output when required by system dynamics.
Meanwhile, the new cogeneration plant supplied by ETW Energietechnik in Göttingen is controlled to ensure security of supply particularly to essential loads in the University Medical School. The two institutions coordinate their energy systems through a joint company.
The Dortmund scheme is all about innovation with heat. E.ON is building an energy centre that will take excess heat generated at carbon black producer Deutsche Gasrußwerke and turn this into useful energy for deepfreeze company the Coldstore Group, which is to establish a plant adjacent to Deutsche Gasrußwerke to facilitate the transaction. E.ON says it hopes to extend the concept to other cities and industries.
Germany rather dominates Europe’s cogeneration market. Up-to-date statistics are hard to come by, but in 2015 the German market was roughly twice the size of either of the two runners-up – the Netherlands and Italy – in electricity generating capacity and production, and even more dominant in terms of heat production, given the country’s extensive use of CHP/district heating.
The secret is the KWKG, the recently-revised German CHP Law, which supports plants of all sizes via either grants (for fuel cell-based micro-CHP), a feed-in premium or, for larger schemes, a capacity auction.