EWB Insight report: January 2018

This month: Straw-fired power starts 2018 strongly, RED II goes the way of bioenergy, Drax to convert a fourth unit and a full facilities round up

To read this report as a PDF click here. 

New year sees a resurgence for straw

A series of deals involving straw in January highlighted the feedstock’s environmental and cost benefits. In total, five projects which have a connection to straw-fired heat and power moved forward, compared to an average of just two per month in 2017, according to EWB’s database.

One of the deals saw Denmark-based Linka secure a contract to build a new straw-fired heating plant from utility company Mørke Fjernvarme for an undisclosed fee.

The facility, which will be built in Mørke, to the north of Aarhus, will have a capacity of 4.5MWth. The utility company currently has a wood-fired plant, which was also supplied by Linka, but demand for the facility’s heat is being "overloaded" and the new plant is needed as a replacement.

However, Linka also points out that the shift from wood pellets to straw will lead to a "reduction in fuel and operating costs" and reduce CO2 emissions by 909 tonnes over the next 20 years.

Dutch bioenergy plant builder Host also saw the benefits of straw-fired power and heat. It bought Poland-based rival Eurobiomass for an undisclosed fee.

The deal sees Host take over a business with a history of building straw and woodchip-fired facilities dating back to 1996. According to Eurobiomass’s website, the plant builder has delivered 21 straw-fired facilities and 37 woodchip-fired ones.

China-based DP Cleantech also won a contract to overhaul a straw-fired cogeneration plant which had experienced "operational problems" relating to boiler availability, stability and several other issues.

The plant, which is located in Elblag, Poland, and opened in 2014 is owned by utility company Energa Kogeneracja. It will get a new combustion system, including feeding system, grate, grate drive and slag conveyor. The 24MW plant can supply around 220GWh of steam for district heating a year.

In the UK, GMT Biogas submitted new plans for an anaerobic digestion plant after its first application was turned down. Crucially, it will now process straw in place of animal slurry and will not use "any waste materials". The plant, which will in total process 19,250 tonnes per year of biomass, will use more than 7,000t of straw per year.

The application is due to be decided later this year.

Lastly, UK-based investment fund Glennmont says it will target "to-be-built and recently operational assets" as it unveiled plans for a third fund. The refinancing of its 40MWe Sleaford straw-fired plant and its 245MWe Italy-based wind portfolio last year, has allowed it to look for new investments.

Policy Update

The European Parliament’s vote in favour of a 35% renewable energy target for 2021-2030 for the second Renewable Energy Directive, known as RED II, was a boost for bioenergy. MEPs voted down stricter biomass sustainability proposals and refused to introduce harsher rules for the co-firing of biomass in coal-fired power plants. The Brussels-based Confederation of European Forest Owners (CEPF) hailed the vote as a "positive" move for Europe’s bioenergy sector. However, CEPF further called for the criteria for biomass-to-energy to be simplified as talks move on.

Crucially MEPs, while banning palm oil from biofuels also "left room" for a percentage of crop-based biofuels by introducing a 12% target for renewables in transport, according to bioethanol trade body ePure. MEPs also rejected a phase-down of crop-based biofuels in favour of a freeze at the current level of 7%.

UK-based majority biomass-fired power plant Drax will convert a fourth boiler to fire on biomass following the government publishing its consultation into financial support under its Renewable Obligation scheme. The government ruled that power plants will be able to "optimise generation across units and decide whether they use a single unit or more than one unit to generate up to the level of their station cap".

EU statistical office Eurostat reported the percentage of municipal waste sent for energy recovery plateaued at 27% between 2014 and 2016, indicating a "positive trend" according to the EfW sector. Recycling facilities and landfills in 2014 both took 28% of municipal waste produced with a further 16% going to composting facilities. However, by 2016 the amount recycled had risen by two percentage points to 30% while the amount landfilled had dropped by three percentage points to 25%.

EfW trade association ESWET said the European Commission’s proposal to "gradually increase fees and taxes" for energy recovery will not boost plastic recycling. ESWET believes the proposals will mean plastics that cannot be recycled will end up in landfills rather than being turned into useful energy.

The UK’s biogas sector faces an uncertain future due to "unjustified" increases in charges by England’s Environment Agency (EA), according to trade body Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA). The EA, which recently consulted on the proposals, has previously said that its current charges do not "fully cover the cost" of its activities. However, ADBA said in "some cases the increases will double the existing charge", while even small cost increases could "result in greater strain" and "have a detrimental impact" on the sector.

The UK government published a long-awaited response to its consultation into overhauling the non-domestic renewable heat incentive (RHI). The response took away funding for drying of certain wood-fuels (when not replacing fossil fuels) and of waste, but retained the drying of "other, non-woody" biomass as an eligible heat use. ADBA said the government now "urgently" needs to pass legislation that will guarantee higher tariff levels for renewable heat generation and restore confidence to the sector.

The Danish government made DKK25m (€3.3m) of support available for the development of biorefineries, with the hope the facilities would be built "throughout the country".

The UK government launched a technical consultation on a draft version of the secondary legislation required to bring into force its plans to extend landfill tax to cover material disposed of at illegal waste sites. The first of the changes would mean rogue operators caught handling waste illegally would be forced to pay landfill tax.

German-based trade associations and biogas businesses urged the country’s next government to move quickly to cut the country’s use of coal for electricity and boost its biogas infrastructure. A joint statement urged the "sustainable retrofitting of existing biogas plants" instead of supporting coal or "fluctuating" renewables such as solar and wind power.

Increasing Scottish biomethane production could make an "important contribution" to renewable heat targets, according to the Scottish Energy Strategy. Currently, Scotland produces 90% of its renewable heat from burning biomass, while there are just 13 biomethane sites in Scotland connected to the gas grid – although more are in the pipeline.

The UK government plans to bring forward legislation to make coal-fired power stations subject to a new emissions intensity limit as part of plans to end unabated coal generation in Britain by 2025.

The House of Commons’ Environmental Audit Committee called for a 25p recycling charge to be added to every disposable cup sold in coffee shops in the UK in a bid to achieve 100% recycling of coffee cups by 2023. The move has been branded as the "latte levy".

The UK’s House of Lords raised concerns about the UK’s export of waste to Europe after Brexit. It urged the government "to preserve non-tariff, barrier-free trade to the greatest extent possible" for waste as a "lack of clarity over the UK's future policy direction" is a big concern for the waste sector, which has left it "unable to plan" for new business or to make investment decisions, according to the committee.

Market Update

France-based Suez plans to develop what is says will be Europe’s first facility recovering non-ferrous metals from incinerator bottom ash (IBA) in the port area of Ghent, Belgium. Suez has been working on the project since November 2015, with a pilot-scale facility proving the concept works. The company says it hopes to recover up to 12,000t/yr by 2019 from IBA sourced from European countries such as Belgium, France, the UK and Poland.

Canada-based Enerkem and China-based Sinobioway Group will work on the construction of the 100-plus biofuel-from-waste facilities in China by 2035. So far Enerkem has developed its technology in Canada, becoming the first company to commercially produce bioethanol from waste. It has also been developing a facility in Rotterdam in the Netherlands.

Estonia-based Graanul Invest started moving wood pellets on the open seas itself after launching its first ship, the MV Imavere. The ship, named after the company’s first pellet-making plant in Imavere, can carry about 30,000 tonnes of biomass per voyage.   

A draft minerals and waste plan from UK local authority Surrey County Council revealed the municipality is facing large gaps in its treatment capacity for waste through energy recovery and biogas. Surrey is facing an energy-recovery gap of 174,00-278,000t/yr by 2033, while other forms of recovery, which includes biogas production, face a capacity gap of 44,000-116,000t/yr.

Finland-based Fortum launched a tender for flue gas equipment services for a number of its facilities in the Stockholm area. The tender covers plants including the part waste-fired Högdalen, the part biomass-fired Hässelby and the soley biomass and waste-fired Brista facility.

Fortum’s Stockholm-based heating company Fortum Värme has rebranded as Stockholm Exergi. Stockholm Exergi is the owner of one of the world’s largest purpose-built biomass-fired power stations, the Värtan cogeneration facility. The facility is part of the company’s drive to switch all of its energy and heat generation to renewables by 2022.

Ireland’s largest biogas plant, Granville Ecopark, became the first facility to complete the recently launched Anaerobic Digestion Certification Scheme (ADCS), launched by trade body ADBA. Essentially, the scheme aims to help plant operators improve their operational, environmental, health and safety performance and in particular energy generation and digestate quality. Granville Ecopark, which is located in Dungannon, processes 75,000t/yr of food waste and sludges and has a capacity of 4.8MWe.

UK-based Renewi signed a deal with Netherlands-based AEB to supply up to 1 million tonnes of RDF over a ten-year period up to the end of 2027, in an extension of its existing one-year deal. Renewi said it will make the RDF in east London from waste sourced through its deal with the East London Waste Authority, before shipping it to AEB’s facilities in Amsterdam.

Facilities Update

EfW plant developers Covanta and Veolia secured an environmental permit for their under-development Rookery Pit Energy Recovery Facility in the UK, completing a turnaround for a facility that looked dead in the water two years ago. The plant was in limbo as Covanta pulled back from Europe, despite winning a judicial review over the development in 2014. When operational it will be able to process up to 585,000t/yr and have a capacity of 50MWe.

UK-based Britaniacrest Recycling held a two-day public consultation on its plans for an EfW plant ahead of re-submitting a planning application. Plans for the plant were withdrawn last year before West Sussex County Council’s (WSCC) planning committee could decide on them. The plans showed a feedstock capacity of 180,000t/yr, while a further 50,000t/yr would also be recycled on-site. In total, the plant would have a capacity of 21MWe.

Finlannd's Valmet secured a contract to deliver a multifuel-fired boiler for a cogeneration plant build for "around" €70m in Laanila, Finland, from utility firm Oulun Energia. Oulun first revealed plans for the multifuel plant in 2015. It is planned to have capacities of 175MWth and 70MWe and was construction ready earlier this month. The plant will process woody biomass, peat and SRF.

Austria-based Andritz secured the contract to build a 20MWth biomass-fired plant from utility company Pori Energia at its existing Aittaluoto power plant. Precise feedstock for the facility is unclear, but Pori has confirmed that the plant’s environmental permit allows for "recycled fuel" sourced from trade and industry waste streams.

France-based CNIM secured an agreement to start development of the first EfW plant in the United Arab Emirates. The plant, which will be located in Sharjah, is due to be operational in 2020. It will process up to 300,000r/yr of municipal waste and have a capacity of 30MWe.

Poland-based EfW plant operator Krakowski Holding Komunalny (KHK) issued a statement denying any knowledge of waste from the plant being disposed of illegally. KHK said it had contracted an unnamed contractor through a tender to dispose of the waste, which would appear to be IBA. If this has not been done in accordance with the contract legal action would follow, it said.

England’s Environment Agency opened a consultation into an environmental permit for the Daventry Biomass Energy Facility. Developer Pedigree Power’s plans for a 565kWe biomass-fired facility in Daventry that would process 24,780t/yr Grade B and C mixed waste wood and produce heat to be "exported to a neighbouring facility".

Finland-based Vantaan Energia revealed that its under-construction €50m plant will burn biomass for the first time in October and is due to be operational early next year. The plant is being built in the shell of a former natural gas and oil-fired facility. The company says "most" of the equipment has already been purchased and fuel contracts with wood suppliers are in place. The next step is equipment installation in the spring.

Greece-based PPC Renewables (PPCR) is looking for a "strategic partner" to develop, finance, build and operate a biomass-fired plant in Amyntaio in the north of the country. The planned plant will have capacities of 25MWe and 45MWth. PPCR has a production licence from the Greek government for the planned plant.

Sweden-based Halmstads Energi och Miljö tendered for a contractor to carry out overlay welding to protect the boilers of its EfW plant in Halmstad. The work is expected to start in March and last until February 2020, with the option for a two-year extension. No financial value for the contract is given.

Estonia-based Utilitas produced 1,680,600MWh of heat and 243,600MWh of electricity from biomass last year – rises of 12% and 40% respectively. "Output increased considerably" after its Tallinn-based plant, which cost almost €65m to build, opened in October. It is fired on locally sourced wood and wood industry residues and has capacities of 76.5MWth and 21.4MWe.

Germany-based EAM EnergiePlus secured a €6.3m deal to maintain the Schilksee heating plant in Kiel. The contract, which was awarded by the municipality of Kiel, covers the plant which has two 2.9MW natural gas-fired and one 420KW biogas-fired heating systems.

Germany-based Martin won the contract to overhaul the Malešice EfW plant in Prague. The contract includes removing and replacing the facility's four lines each with a line capable of processing 14t/h of waste and a gross capacity of 35MWth. Construction work is due to begin in March and be completed by 2022. It will increase the plant’s overall waste processing capacity from 300,000t/yr to 400,000t/yr.

Fortum won a deal to supply and maintain turbine and generator equipment for an EfW plant in Bergen, Norway, owned by BIR Avfallsenergi and BKK Varme. Once Fortum has supplied the equipment it will maintain it for eight years.The 11.9MWe facility opened in 2010 and processes up to 220,000t/yr of waste.

Final inspections of the biogas tanks in Engie’s Surrey Ecopark took place this month ahead of the introduction of food waste as hot commissioning is due to get under way. Hydro testing on the AD facility will be carried out to make sure various pipes and joints can withstand the required pressure during full operation. When completed the biogas plant will be capable of processing 44,000t/yr. The site is also home to a waste gasification unit that will process 44,700t/yr. As a whole the site will have a capacity of 3.6MWe.

Malmberg won a contract to upgrade biogas produced from the Tuvan wastewater treatment plant in Skellefteå, Sweden. The equipment, which along with the Compact GR 6 upgrade facility includes a gas holder, high-pressure compressors and decompressors, will be operational this summer. The contract is worth SEK100M (€10.1m) for the new plant, which will be able to produce about 2.1m3 of vehicle gas per year.

UK-based local authority Sheffield City Council approved an application to increase throughput at an IBA plant from 135,000t/yr to 200,000t/yr. The plant, owned by Ballast Phoenix, has operated since 2008. The operator had entered into new contracts with IBA producers in Leeds and Ferrybridge as well as an energy-recovery facility in Sheffield.

The 25MWe Energy Works (Hull) EfW plant crossed a major threshold with the completion of an on-site academy, which incorporates the facility’s control room. The arch-roofed energy academy also has viewing windows of the plant over two floors. Energy Works (Hull) is the largest privately funded power station of its kind currently under construction in the UK and will process up to 240,000t/yr of waste and is due to open later this year.

France-based Weiss delivered a biomass-fired boiler to an under-construction cogeneration plant in the Ukrainian city of Kamyanets. Delivery of the 10MW system marks an "important step in the export development" of the company.

France-based Suez and Engie Biogas jointly won a contract from the Métropole Européenne de Lille to run its organic recovery centre. The deal is worth €76m and will last for at least nine years. The plant processes 108,600t/yr of organic waste a year and supplies compost to farmers. The biogas is used by the city’s buses or fed into the mains gas network. Under the contract, Suez will "quadruple" raw biogas production, which it says will equal the annual gas consumption of 3,000 households.

Germany-based ZAS’s Burgkirchen EfW plant is likely to have set a new waste processing record last year. ZAS said the facility was likely to have processed 240,000t last year when all the deliveries had been added up. This is an increase from 236,000t in 2016, which was itself a record for the plant. The two-line plant has capacities of 88MWth and 16MWe.

Poland-based municipality-owned waste management firm ZUT told ENDS that all legal challenges overs its awarding of the Gdansk EfW plant build were over. Italy-based Astaldi and Termomeccanica Ecologia along with France-based TIRU would build and operate the plant. China-owned EEW was initially awarded the deal, but the joint French-Italian venture challenged that. The plant, which is due to process up to 160,000 tonnes of waste per year, is scheduled to open towards the end of 2020 or in early 2021. It will process up to 160,000t/yr.

UK-based landfill gas-to-energy business Infinis claimed a UK "first" after revealing it put two propane-powered peaking generation projects into operation in Bedfordshire and Peterborough, both have capacities to provide 2MW of propane from landfill gas. The plants are believed to be the first propane-powered peaking generation projects in the UK, according to Infinis.

Consultancy Waterman Group celebrated as the Allerton Waste Recovery Park was shortlisted for the Centenary Award at the Institution of Civil Engineers’ Yorkshire and Humber Civil Engineering Awards. Allerton Waste Recovery Park is built on 5.1 hectares of land in North Yorkshire. The site includes a 24MWe EfW plant and a 1.1MWe biogas facility. The facilities, which will together handle 320,000t/yr of waste, started commissioning last year and are due to be fully operational early this year.

Denmark-based Aalborg Energie Technik carried out the "first fire" at the biomass-fired cogeneration plant it is building for poultry-rendering business JG Pears. The plant, which is due to open early this year, will have capacities of 42MWth and 12MWe.

Norway-based Returkraft’s EfW facilities in Langemyr and Kristiansand have now processed more than 1Mt of waste since opening in 2010. The company also said it had produced 2568GWhe over the same period by processing the waste, with the milestone passed over the Christmas period.

France-based Veolia confirmed its Hoddesdon EfW in the UK was given the greenlight by Hertfordshire County Council. However, as was confirmed before Christmas, the facility cannot move to construction until the government gives it the go-ahead. Should the plant, which is officially known as the Rye House Energy Recovery Facility, go ahead, it will process up to 350,000t/yr and a capacity of 30.2MWe.

Multifuel Energy Ltd asked to be allowed to move a planned biodiversity zone as part of its development of the under-construction Ferrybridge Multifuel 2 (FM2). The company has written to the UK government to allow the move so it can develop an "independently operated ash processing facility". The biodiversity zone will be relocated.

Geminor secured a contract to supply more than 27,000t of RDF to Renova’s EfW facility in Gothenburg under a 12-month deal. From its source in the UK, Geminor will manage baled RDF haulage across the North Sea to Gothenburg Harbour. From here, bales will be broken and loose material will be transported to the Renova facility. The three-line plant in Sävenäs has three boilers, an overall capacity of 190MWe and processes more than 430,000t/yr.

And finally…

In a baffling move, for those both for and against the development of Indaver’s 18.5MWe EfW plant, the Irish planning body An Bord Pleanála has delayed a decision on the project for a seventh time.

Bord Pleanála’s website states, at the time of going to press: "Proposed decision date not available at this time". The facility was due to be decided on before Christmas, having already pushed back a decision six times. Should the planning body ever make a decision, the €160m plant in Ringaskiddy, Cork, would be able to process up to 240,000t/yr

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