Around the World with Bioenergy, Hydropower and Geothermal

Category 1 waste. Credit: DHL.

Unlike the intermittent wind and solar power, baseload renewables are able to produce power with little fluctuation due to weather. Bioenergy, geothermal and hydropower technologies are able to provide power around the clock and do not depend on the sun shining or the wind blowing. Here’s a look at what’s happening in these important renewable energy sectors.

Gatwick Is First Airport in the World to Turn Category 1 Waste into Bioenergy

In March, DHL Supply Chain and Gatwick airport formally opened a new waste management plant, becoming the first airport in the world to turn airport waste, such as food and packaging, into energy.

The £3.8M (US $4.7M) waste-to-energy plant turns Category 1 waste and other organic waste into energy to heat Gatwick’s waste management site and power the site’s water recovery system. When in operation, the plant could save the facility up to £1,000 (US $1250) in energy and waste management costs per day.

Category 1 waste is defined as food waste or anything mixed with it, such as packaging, cups and meal trays from international transport vehicles. Through the plant, waste is turned into a dry-powdered organic material, used as fuel to heat the site and dry the waste for the next day.

DHL Supply Chain already manages inbound deliveries at Gatwick Airport through its logistics and consolidation facility on behalf of the airport’s 150 partners and retailers. The development of the new waste management plant is also in sync with Deutsche Post DHL Group’s recently announced commitment to reduce all logistics-related emissions to net zero by the year 2050.

Waste-Heat-to-Energy in Turkey, New York, and California

Turboden, a Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) company said its 65 HRS ORC unit, which converts waste heat to energy will be installed at the Düzcecam Glass Plant in Düzce, Turkey. The unit, designed for 6.2 MW nominal capacity, will convert the off-gas waste heat from the two float glass production lines into electric power. It is expected to be online in early 2018.

The heat recovery system configuration includes a set of thermal oil boilers (one for each line) with a heat carrier circuit to convey the heat from the exhaust gas to the ORC unit. The two waste heat boilers, in parallel with the existing quenching tower system, will produce thermal oil up to 315°C. The hot thermal oil (heat carrier) transfers thermal power to the ORC turbogenerator working fluid, which then expands in the turbine to convert incoming thermal energy into electric power by means of an electric generator.

In related news, PwrCor said that it has initiated a program with ConEd to develop a pilot project based on its PwrCor engine, which employs waste-heat-to-power technology. The engine captures waste steam condensate and converts it to electricity before it is disposed of in the municipal sewer system.

By capturing the steam condensate, PwrCor says that its technology delivers electric power to the building and also cools the hot water, eliminating the need to purchase water to temper the over-hot condensate before it can be disposed of in the sewer system.

The company is also exploring how its technology could be used in conjunction with geothermal power.

Tidal Energy in Southeast Asia

Singapore-based cleantech investment company Envirotek, working with an international team of experts, successfully deployed a 62 kW SCHOTTEL Instream Turbine (SIT) in the waters off the Sentosa Boardwalk in Singapore, showcasing the viability of tidal energy in the region. Based on the trial, the company intends to develop commercial tidal instream projects in Southeast Asia with an initial focus is on the Philippines.

An island in The Philippines. Credit: Envirotek.

With more than 7,000 islands, many of which are isolated communities that still have limited access to electricity, a significant opportunity exists in the Philippines to harness the power of the oceans to provide a reliable supply of energy. Most of these communities use diesel generators to provide electricity. Due to high costs of fuel, transportation and handling, the supply is limited to only 4-6 hours a day. Tidal currents regularly flow past many of these islands, providing a readily accessible energy resource.

Canadian-Based Enbridge Embarks on Geothermal Plan

According to Malini Girdhar, Vice President, Market Development, Public & Government Affairs at Enbridge Gas Distribution, her company is interested in developing geothermal heating and cooling solutions in Ontario and offering those solutions to homeowners. There are two key drivers for the company’s interest. First, Ontario has aggressive carbon-reduction goals and second, there is a significant heating load in the region.

Ontario is already using a good chunk of renewables and the province shut down the last of its coal plants in 2014. However, the heating load is still met mostly with gas, propane and oil.

“Moving to all-electric heating does not make sense across the board because of the cost implications but geothermal is very attractive to us in meeting the energy needs of the region,” said Girdhar in an interview.

The company plans to target the new construction market first.

Because it is a regulated company, Girdhar explained that Enbridge could “rate-base” the up-front cost of installing the geothermal loops underground, spreading that cost over a much longer period than homeowners could do on their own.

“If we can put it in our rate base, we can spread that over 40 years so that brings the cost down significantly,” she said, adding “because natural gas is so much cheaper you’ve got to use every means at your disposal today to bring that cost [of geothermal] down.”

Girdhar estimates that there are approximately 40,000-50,000 new housing units constructed in Ontario annually.

“So getting a small portion of them initially just to demonstrate the technology, the market, and get user acceptance and then grow from there, we think over the next 10 years it should become quite viable,” she said.

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