HomeDecentralized EnergyCogeneration CHPThe growing importance of renewable fuels for decentralized energy

The growing importance of renewable fuels for decentralized energy

by Steve Hogsdon
Editor, COSPP

The news pages in this issue highlight the growing importance of renewable fuels in the CHP and distributed energy sector. Biogases produced in wastewater treatment plants are the classic renewable CHP fuel, where heat generated at the CHP plant serves to increase the supply of biogas fuel. But this model can also be extended to biogases produced from agricultural and food processing waste products – as news stories from Ukraine and the US illustrate. We also include an account from Germany where solid wood-waste biomass fuels a CHP plant; the heat from which helps to condition wood pellets being manufactured at an adjacent plant – a similarly elegant solution.

How about ‘solar CHP’? Another news story reports field trials of a domestic-scale Stirling engine CHP plant that uses only solar energy as its ‘fuel.’ On-site wind power? No heat involved here, but we have been reporting on the COSPP website the installation of wind turbines or small arrays of turbines that feed power for use at the sites at which they are located, rather than to the power grid.

Natural gas will be the dominant fuel, particularly for larger-scale CHP schemes, for many years to come; but there’s no ignoring the impact of renewables here, as well as in the grid power world.

This issue of COSPP includes two particular features that take a thoughtful overview of the future. On page 16, Gérard Magnin of the association of municipal authorities, Energy Cities, discusses the key roles that CHP and district energy must play in any new policy for energy for cities in Europe. His proposal for a new, bottom-up (decentralized) approach insists that only with the building of district heating and cooling networks can city authorities make real progress towards meeting ambitious local energy use and carbon emissions targets. How else could locally occurring thermal energy resources be utilized?

On page 52, Tom Fern of the UK CHP Association explores a similar area by introducing what he calls energy integration as a method of addressing what he terms the UK energy ‘trilemma’ – how to square the circle of environmental imperatives with energy security and affordability. Green, plentiful and cheap, all at the same time. Energy integration will, says Fern, involve bringing together energy users and local energy generation, CHP and district energy systems, waste heat from industrial process and a local heat load, energy supply and storage.

Elsewhere, three feature articles in this issue together take a hard look at the operational experience of gas turbine and engine-based cogeneration systems serving industrial sites in Italy and Spain, and how plant performance monitoring can maximize operational efficiency. Industrial managers in the US are being encouraged by the US Department of Energy to adopt CHP too – as we report on page 47.

Last, COSPP has been to the Republic of Korea to see plans for the expansion of both CHP and district heating there, and proposals to extend district cooling technology from commercial buildings to homes.

Steve Hodgson Editor, COSPP PS. Please do visit www.cospp.com to see regular news updates on cogeneration and decentralized energy from around the world, together with the current issue of the magazine in full and an archive of articles from previous issues. You can use the same website address to subscribe to the magazine and to sign-up for our monthly COSPP e-newsletter.

Steve Hodgson
à‚ Editor, COSPP


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