While much of the focus of renewables in the energy market is on solar and wind, it is worth considering how biomass as an energy source can play an increasingly vital role.
In 2017, a report commissioned by the UK Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy found that using biomass instead of coal is critical in helping to decarbonise the power sector. The report suggested that using biomass instead of coal could reduce carbon emissions by 74%.
Here, Peter Eaton, UK Head of Technical, at Pyrogen Services Ltd (PyroGen), talks about the future potential of biomass energy, and what will make it a versatile energy solution for manufacturers and across a diverse range of sectors.
Versatile Biomass Energy Solutions
“Research has shown biomass to be a very cost-effective source of renewable energy, but different sectors can only exploit this if the means are available for them to do so.”
“What biomass offers as an alternative energy source is versatility, through its applications”
“The more versatile it is, the more widely and effectively applied biomass energy will become, which is good news for the planet.”
For example, while wood-based biomass can generate electricity to power households, there are also off-grid biomass energy solutions which can act as complementary power sources for industry.
“Portable biomass units, such as the PyroGen 199 and 999 work to combine cooling, heat and power principles, which means they thermally convert solid biomass fuel at high temperatures.”
These units work with a multitude of feedstocks – pellets or chips – which, when burnt, generates biogas that then has the potential to fuel generator engines. Particle emissions are minimal.
“The models are hugely efficient, providing up to 8,000 operational hours and require minimal servicing. In industrial and manufacturing settings, they can seriously help reduce utility bills while complementing the normal energy supply.”
“In the transport sector, advanced biomass generators will be able to help charge electric vehicles in situations where the normal grid is not sufficiently adaptable”
Take electric vehicles in airports, for example. At Heathrow, as part of its Heathrow 2.0 goals, the target is to make its fleets totally EV or plug-in hybrids by 2020, and to increase the number of electric airside vehicles. However, to do this, the airport must somehow find a way to keep them charged over a large operational area which the conventional grid will not cover.
“One regular task airport vehicles have is to remove effluent from aircraft. This must be a streamlined operation, to maintain extremely tight aircraft turnaround times, and it is a specific sector that Pyrogen Services has looked at.”
“Advanced biomass machines could keep these vehicles charged, helping the airport meets its EV targets. It’s exactly this kind of practical application of biomass that could also help make EV take up more feasible across a number of different commercial and industrial sites.”
Testing Times for Biomass
Biomass technology is not static, but is steadily advancing, ready to meet increasing demand and different applications.
“Current biomass power plants run on different wood-based biomass. We’re developing technology to broaden the base of the kind of biomass we can use effectively.”
In the future, this will include other materials such as plastic and food waste.
“As a versatile, evolving technology, biomass is set to play a vital role in industry, both on a national and global scale,” concludes Peter.
Pyrogen Services provides distributed energy systems internationally, applying advanced biomass technology to develop pioneering, sustainable, on and off-grid energy solutions. To discover more about their systems and solutions, please call 0161 804 4585 or visit pyro-gen.co.uk.