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Miguel Ángel Martínez

Completion of deal means Drax will play bigger role at heart of Great Britain’s energy system

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Drax is set to play a bigger role than ever in Great Britain’s energy system following the completion of the purchase of Spanish company Iberdrola’s portfolio of flexible, low-carbon and renewable assets, for £702 million subject to customary adjustments.

The new power stations which will increase Drax’s electricity generation capacity by 60%, means the company will now provide enough power for the equivalent of more than 8.3 million homes.

The deal adds 2.6GW of generation capacity to Drax’s portfolio, reinforcing its position at the heart of the Great Britain’s energy system. Drax have national footprint with operations in Scotland, Wales, Yorkshire, Lancashire, London, the East of England, the East Midlands and the South East of England.

The combination of hydro plants in Scotland with Drax’s biomass units in Yorkshire reinforce the company’s position as Great Britain’s biggest generator of renewable power. With the addition of 35% of Great Britain’s electricity storage capacity and 2GW of gas power stations Drax will also be better placed to provide the flexibility and stability to help underpin the increases in solar and wind power which will be needed in the decades to come if the UK is to meet its climate targets.

The 2.6GW portfolio consists of Cruachan pumped storage hydro (440MW) in Argyll, run-of-river hydro locations at Galloway and Lanark (126MW) and a biomass-from-waste facility at Daldowie in Scotland as well as four Combined Cycle Gas Turbine stations in England: Damhead Creek (805MW) in Kent, Rye House (715MW) in Hertfordshire, Shoreham (420MW) in West Sussex and Blackburn Mill (60MW) in Lancashire.

The sites are complementary to Drax’s existing generation activities and means the company has developed from a single-site generation business into a multi-site, multi-technology operation.

Drax Power Station in Selby, North Yorkshire, is the biggest renewable generator in the UK. Over the last decade Drax has converted two-thirds of what was Great Britain’s biggest coal fired power station to run on sustainable biomass, creating the largest decarbonisation project in Europe.

Drax Group is now the Great Britain’s fifth largest non-domestic energy supplier and the biggest supplier of renewable power to UK businesses and organisations with over 350,000 now being provided with 100% renewable power.

For more information visit

French clean power producer invests in South Australia

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Multinational renewable energy producer, Akuo Energy, is investing in South Australia, with the capacity to lower energy prices for households and businesses and create dozens of local construction jobs. The France-based company is investing $12 million in the initial development of a 4.98MW renewable energy site in Renmark, called the ‘Jane Eliza Solar Farm’, in a joint bid with SA’s Enerven. Work is expected to begin next year, with the project involving 15,000 solar PV panels, situated on 10 hectares of land within the Renmark Paringa Council area.

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, David Ridgway welcomed the investment in regional South Australia, which had the capacity to provide enough energy for 2000 homes and create dozens of local construction jobs.

“This project demonstrates significant international investor confidence in South Australia,’’ said Minister Ridgway.

“Attracting a company like Akuo Energy, which has provided renewable energy to Fortune 500 companies in the United States, will stimulate competition in the local energy market and will create jobs for South Australians.”

Following its initial investment, Akuo Energy has plans to invest an additional $238 million for the implementation of solar investments in grid-scale renewable energy generation, floating solar PV, wind and wood biomass energy projects.The company has projects in 16 countries, including the United States, Uruguay, Croatia, Dubai, Mali, Indonesia and Poland developing, financing, constructing and operating renewable energy generation power plants.

Jean Ballandras, CEO of Akuo Energy in the Asia Pacific region, said the company is delighted to have created a base for further investments in South Australia.

“Just as we did in the United States, we wish to bring our affordable electricity prices using clean energy to many businesses in South Australia over the next few years,” Mr Ballandras said.

“We appreciate the guidance from the South Australian Government and, in particular, the Department for Trade, Tourism and Investment, which has helped us enter the local market and provided invaluable support, which made it an easy decision to invest in South Australia.”

Akuo Energy has signed a long-term lease to build, own and operate the 4.98MW renewable energy site with the Renmark Paringa Council. Renmark Paringa Council Mayor Neil Martinson said the land formed part of the Jane Eliza estate which has been in Council’s possession for 25 years.

“In 2016 Council developed a Masterplan for the Jane Eliza estate which included developing a renewable energy site as well as undertaking environmental watering,” Mayor Martinson said.

“The long-term lease signed by Council with Akuo Energy will create a passive income for the community without the risk of entering the energy market and will require the lessee to relocate an ageing flood bank which will create further opportunities for Council in the future on this section of previously unusable land.

“There are many positives for our community and the state of South Australia from the signing of this lease.”

£100 million for renewable energy projects in Africa to provide electricity to 2.4 million people a year

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The UK Government has announced an additional funding of £100m for the Renewable Energy Performance Platform (REPP) in Africa, during the COP24 summit in Poland. With this new funding, REPP will be able to support nearly 40 renewable

The funding will be used to support the developers of small-scale solar, wind, hydropower, and geothermal projects by harnessing each country’s natural resources, and the energy generated from these projects will help in providing 2.4 million people with new or improved access to clean energy. Previously, the UK committed to offering an investment £48m to the REPP, and the programme is currently supporting 18 renewable energy projects in a range of countries from Tanzania to Burundi.

The new funding could unlock an extra £156 million of private finance into renewable energy markets in Africa by 2023. Developers of small-scale solar, wind, hydro and geothermal projects will be supported to harness each country’s natural resources, and the electricity generated is expected to provide 2.4 million people a year with new or improved access to clean energy. Power produced from new projects funded is expected to save around 3 million tonnes of carbon over their lifetime, compared with fossil fuel generation – the equivalent to the emissions from burning 21,000 railway cars of coal or from 800,000 cars in a year.

Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry said:

At home we’re world leaders in cutting emissions while growing our economy and abroad we’re showing our international leadership by giving countries a helping hand to shift to greener, cleaner economies. This £100 million will help communities harness the power of their natural resources to provide hundreds of thousands of people with electricity for the first time. Building these clean, reliable sources of energy will also create thousands of quality jobs in these growing green economies.

The new investment is in addition to £48 million previously committed to the REPP. The programme is already supporting 18 renewable energy projects in a range of countries from Tanzania to Burundi. These projects, featuring solar, wind, biomass, hydro and geothermal technologies, are expected to provide new or improved access for more than 4.5 million people over the project lifetimes, creating 8,000 jobs during development and operation.

Expected results from some of the 18 projects already receiving support from REPP are:

-hydropower from the Nzoia River in Kenya, providing 290,000 people with energy and creating 330 jobs -solar power for 70,000 people in Kilosa, Tanzania, including for 6,000 people who will have access to energy for the first time, creating 75 jobs in total -mini grids in Nigeria which will provide 72 rural villages with pay-as-you-go clean, reliable energy, creating 2,500 jobs during construction and 430 when it’s up and running -biomass plants in Ebolowa and Edea, Cameroon, providing enough clean energy for 520,000 people in a rural area creating 460 jobs -solar power to provide electricity for 87,600 people and business in Burundi, creating 300 part-time jobs and 50-full times posts -a hydropower plant creating enough power for more than 90,000 people for the first time in a remote part of Tanzania, creating 80 jobs in total

The funding is part of the UK’s commitment to invest £5.8 billion in international climate finance by 2020 to encourage ambitious action from other governments, the private sector and communities in the global effort to tackle climate change.

To date, UK climate finance has:

-supported 47 million people cope with the effects of climate change -provided 17 million people with improved access to clean energy -installed 590MW of clean energy.

At COP24 the UK also announced:

-£15.6 million to help countries vulnerable to climate change have a voice in United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiations -£771,000 to help developing countries take part in COP24 –an additional £45 million to the Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions’ (NAMA) Facility, co-founded by the UK, to help reduce emissions within an economic sector. -an additional £1 million for the Global Innovation Lab, which helps innovative climate finance proposals move more quickly to implementation and attract funding

Notes to editors

1. For more information, visit the REPP website.

2. Earlier this year the UK government announced:

a £60 million technical assistance programme that supports Clean Growth and accelerated emissions reductions in developing countries

£106 million to help developing countries construct more energy efficient buildings

Energy from waste CHP plant to power Scottish industries

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A new combined heat and power plant fueled by energy from waste will stop 216,000 tonnes of household and commercial rubbish a year from ending up in landfill. Instead the waste will be used to generate 21 MW of electricity at the Earls Gate Energy Centre in Grangemouth, Scotland. The project is being developed by Brockwell Energy, which will retain a 50 per cent stake in the plant once it is operational. The other half will be held by the Green Investment Group and Covanta Energy.

The facility will replace a gas-fired plant and will also provide heat and power to four local industries on an adjacent business park, including chemical manufacturer and site utility service provider CalaChem. Brockwell chief executive Alex Lambie has said that the plant will be the “first of a number of energy from waste projects that we will build over the next three years”. Construction is due to start next month and the plant is anticipated to be operational in November 2021. Brockwell chief financial officer Iain Cockburn said: “We recognised the potential in Earls Gate from the outset” and added that the project “demonstrates that it is possible to build and finance high quality merchant energy recovery plants without the need for subsidies”.

Edward Northam, Head of Green Investment Group Europe, said that last year Scotland recycled more waste than it sent to landfill. “This is a fantastic achievement but there remains a lack of capacity to unlock the value to businesses and households from converting residual waste into low-carbon energy. The Earls Gate facility will play a major role in changing that.”

ENGIE develops major UK district energy project

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French energy giant ENGIE has signed a major deal to develop and operate a series of district energy schemes over 40 years in the UK. ENGIE will design, build, operate and maintain the schemes for Newcastle City Council in the northeast of England.

The initial £20m project under the deal is already being built by ENGIE at the Newcastle Helix urban regeneration scheme – a high-profile, large-scale, city centre development. The site, a former brewery, spans 24 acres and is being regenerated to create a major hub for scientific research and technology which, once complete, will create over 450 homes and 4000 jobs over half a million square feet of university, laboratory and office space. 

Utilizing natural gas fired CHP, the energy system will provide, via a network of pipes, all businesses and homes on the scheme with affordable heat. Additionally, chilled water and a private wire electricity network will provide cooling and electricity to the non-residential customers. It has been calculated that over the 40-year contract period, ENGIE’s energy centre will provide a carbon emission saving of 30,650 tonnes. The energy centre is expected to be operational from August next year.

Andrew Hart, managing director for ENGIE’s Urban Energy business, said: “The partnership with Newcastle City Council is a paradigm of innovation and vision, so we are delighted to be on-board to help deliver sustainable energy solutions.  Our expertise in district energy, especially alongside local authorities, coupled with our capabilities in construction, means we have the perfect platform to offer a wide-ranging service, with long-lasting benefits for those within this forward-thinking City.

“This is an example of how the private and public sector can work in partnership to deliver their ambitious district energy investment plans aligned with the government heat strategy.”

The 9th International Conference on Algal Biomass, Biofuels and Bioproducts

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17-19 June 2019 | Embassy Suites, Boulder, CO, USA

The 9th International Conference on Algal Biomass, Biofuels and Bioproducts (AlgalBBB 2019) will take place in Boulder (CO, USA) where we will continue to provide an exciting atmosphere to discuss the latest research and technologies and to interact with leaders in the field.

Boulder is an exciting crossroads city that shoulders the start of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado (including Rocky Mountain National Park) a playground for climbers, cyclists, hikers, kayakers, and all sorts of outdoor enthusiasts. Boulder is located within one hour of Denver, Fort Collins and Golden, all part of a great cultural, sports and academic heritage.  Some of the prominent universities nearby include the University of Colorado, Denver University, Colorado State University, and The Colorado School of Mines. With a small-town atmosphere, Boulder’s Pearl Street is its center for entertainment and dining and only a fifteen-minute walk from the Conference venue.

AlgalBBB places a major emphasis on the latest unpublished technical and scientific results, along with discussion and direct interactions with strategic partners, funding sponsors, and leaders in the field. The conference presents the work of the algae research community through a balanced set of oral presentations and posters selected from the best submissions to the conference. In addition, our list of key note and invited speakers includes funding agency sponsors, key industry players, and top scientists from the international community.

The conference will cover all areas of emerging technologies in all areas of algal research, including microalgae, macroalgae, and cyanobacteria: biology, biotechnology, biomass production, cultivation, harvesting, extraction, biorefinery, feedstock conversion into fuels, bioproducts, and econometrics and sustainability analyses. We look forward to specialized sessions in engineering topics, molecular characterization technologies (e.g., genomics, proteomics, metabolomics), strain engineering technologies for biofuels and high value products, biomaterials, photobioreactor design and control systems, and new technologies in characterization and analysis, among others.

Themes in algae research including microalgae, macroalgae and cyanobacteria:

Algal Biology – Molecular Engineering and Synthetic Biology of Algae for Biofuels and High Value Products

Algal Biology – Biodiversity and Bioprospecting of Algae for Biofuels and High Value Products

Algal Biotechnology – Metabolic Regulation of Algae for Biofuels and High Value Products

Algal Cultivation – Phototrophic Systems in Open Ponds

Algal Cultivation – Phototrophic Systems in Photobioreactors

Algal Cultivation – Heterotrophic Systems, including utilization of Waste Waters for Algal Production

Bioreactor Design, Engineering and Control

Algal Harvesting and Extraction Systems

Engineering of Biorefinery Systems, Technologies, and End-to-end Integration

New Technologies in Support of Algal Research – Areas of Separation, Refining, Detection, Characterization and Analysis

Engineering Technologies for Algal Biofuels – Thermal Catalytic and Non-Catalytic, and Enzymatic systems

Bioproducts from Algae, Including High-Value Products and Co-products

Life Cycle, Technoeconomic, and Sustainability Modeling and Analysis of Algal Production and Fuel Cycle System

More info in:

Drax power station storing CO2 gases from biomass fuel

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The biggest power station in the UK has started a project to store carbon dioxide emissions and the gas could be used in the drinks industry. In May, Drax power station near Selby, North Yorkshire, announced a £400,000 pilot scheme to capture the gas produced from burning wood pellets.

Drax officials say the scheme would see about a tonne of gas stored each day.

The power station has previously been criticised by campaigners for the levels of air pollution it produces. Drax has spent time working with energy firm C-Capture which is connected to the chemistry department at the University of Leeds. Its aim was to adapt the technology used to capture emissions from coal and do the same for wood pellets – known as biomass – which Drax has burned since 2013.

The pilot will see the emitted gases mixed with a solvent that “collects the CO2”, which is then stored and prevented from entering the atmosphere, Drax said. The firm said using the technology at the plant could enable the company to operate the world’s first carbon negative power station.

Drax said: “If successful, the six-month pilot project will capture a tonne of CO2 (carbon dioxide) a day from the gases produced when renewable power is generated.” Talking about the technology behind the project, Drax chief executive Andy Koss said: “I think it will make a huge difference to the business and for our employees. I think it will give us a longer future. “If we can pilot this and get it right and scale it up, I think this is something that we can export around the globe.”

Drax said the CO2 will initially be stored on site but eventually it will seek to find a use for the gas, such as in the drinks industry which earlier this year was hit with a CO2 shortage.

European bioenergy production could triple by 2050

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Ahead of the COP24 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Katowice, Poland, new research on biomass potential claims it can be a ‘key solution’ in climate change mitigation. According to the recently published researched, the amount of domestically available biomass that is used for bioenergy in Europe can triplicate within sustainable and environmental limits whilst staying within ‘reasonable’ cost limits.

The COP24 meetings are focusing on the urgency of fighting climate change. Research into how biomass has a prominent role to play towards a net-zero greenhouse gas emissions economy has recently been highlighted in the EU’s new long-term strategy for decarbonisation.   

Bioenergy Europe says that bioenergy represents one of the most important solutions to achieve a balance between emissions and removals by 2050. The trade association believes that bioenergy is versatile and flexible and can help to drastically cut carbon emissions in transport, heating and electricity sectors.

Bioenergy’s contribution towards the 2050 energy mix is to be determined by the availability of sustainable biomass. Bioenergy Europe states that agricultural biomass plays a key role in the research conducted by Professor Dr André Faaij of the University of Groningen. The research indicated that in order to achieve the potential by 2050, agricultural biomass’ energy contribution will need to significantly increase. It will also need to become as important as the energy that is produced from forest biomass.

Jean-Marc Jossart, Secretary-General of Bioenergy Europe states that, “The literature review offers an opportunity for decision-makers at COP24 to take into account the potential of bioenergy, one of the most viable solutions to maintaining global warming to the recommended level of +1.5°C by 2050. Discussions in Katovice must now focus on finding ways to transform our economies for the upcoming challenge of climate change.” 

Bioenergy sector powers up on government push

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Bioenergy is growing exponentially in China, thanks to support from government policies, industry insiders said.

For instance, for the first time this year, villagers of Lifang village in Changzhi city in Shanxi province are able to keep their home warm, cozy and clean in the long and chilly winter, thanks to a newly installed biomass central heating system. In the past, they mainly relied on burning coal for heating in winter, which polluted homes and increased expenditure. The city has promoted central biomass heating in five villages since last year, covering more than 3,550 households with a heating area of over 385,000 square meters, according to a report in China News. That is just an example of the bioenergy expansion in China, driven by the country’s far-reaching environment protection.

Bioenergy, usually made from agricultural and forestry byproducts and animal waste, is often considered carbon-neutral, and Chinese authorities have been promoting its development in recent years with accelerated efforts.

Adam Brown, senior analyst with the Renewable Energy Division of the International Energy Agency, said he was “impressed by the pace and scale of how bioenergy is developing in China”. “China has become the largest producer globally of electricity from bioenergy, and with major new initiatives across heat, electricity and transport, the country is anticipated to provide almost a fifth of global bioenergy growth by 2023,” he said. That is to say, China will account for the largest absolute bioenergy growth over the forecast period, surpassing the European Union, a global bioenergy leader.

Yuan Baorong, deputy director-general of CECEP Consulting Co Ltd, said that in 2003, installed electricity capacity from bioenergy was only 1.5 million kilowatts in China, which had increased 10 times to about 15 million kW by the end of 2017.

The use of biomass as a source for boiler heating is also picking up in China, as the total biomass consumption for heating in 2017 was about 13.2 million metric tons, covering heating areas of 80 million square meters.

The government has issued a series of policies supportive of the development of bioenergy, especially in promoting industrial and consumer biogas use, and utilization of biomass heating in North China, she said. On Dec 7, a notice issued by the National Energy Administration called on the provincial energy authorities and nine major Stateowned energy enterprises to make medium to long-term plans so that biogas can be better developed to help make the energy mix environmentally friendly.

The notice required the authorities and enterprises to incorporate biogas in their overall energy development strategies, such as including biogas in the natural gas production, supply and marketing system, and supporting the establishment of a raw material collection system for biogas.

Early this year, the National Development and Reform Commission and the NEA jointly issued a plan to replace 30 million tons of coal in the energy mix with bioenergy by 2020, and 60 million tons by 2035.

According to the plan, the installed capacity of cogeneration of electricity and heat from bioenergy will exceed 12 million kW, and the total heating capacity of bioenergy will cover about 1 billion square meters by 2020. The two numbers will respectively increase to 25 million kW and 2 billion sq m by 2035. Xiong Jian, president of Optic Valley Bluefire, a Wuhan, Hubei province-based company engaged in the biomass heating sector, said surging demand in China gives the company much hope that the future will be bright. Established in 2005 mainly on biogas utilization, the company’s business has expanded into the whole bioenergy value chain, including biomass collection and processing, equipment manufacturing, and industrial park biomass heating system design and construction. With ongoing projects in 10 provinces, the company has more than 200 intellectual property rights and 60 invention patents.

It also has won awards at home and abroad for technology innovation and environment protection contribution, and recently established joint ventures with Danish bioenergy boiler company Justsen Energiteknik in Copenhagen and Wuhan. As the Chinese economy develops, energy demand for heating not only increases on the consumer side but also surges in the industrial sector, especially in the food and beverage, pharmaceutical, chemistry and textiles segments, he said. Bioenergy companies have been established across the country to meet such demand.

However, there are also obstacles curbing the fast development of bioenergy in China, including the inefficient circulation system of biogas, especially compared against natural gas, and the urgent need for domestically developed technologies and equipment that are more suitable for Chinese users, said Yuan, who doubles as an energy policy consultant for the authorities concerned. She said removing such obstacles will unleash greater potential for bioenergy in China.

Ence buys Endesa’s Enemansa and La Loma biomass power plants

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 Ence’s generation capacity increased by 29% after the acquisition of the two plants, which have a capacity of 32 MW and an estimated production of 175 million kWh in 2016.

• New step of Ence in fulfilling its Strategic Plan, which plans to increase the capacity of its biomass generation business to 383 MW by 2020.

December, 15, 2016. Ence – Energía y Celulosa has concluded an agreement to purchase Endesa’s stake in the renewable energy generation plants with biomass of Enemasa (Ciudad Real) and La Loma (Jaén), in which the company held 68.4% and 64.1%, respectively. The operation allows Ence to increase by 29% the installed power of its power business, which now reaches 143 MW.

Ignacio Colmenares, Ence’s Vice President and Chief Executive Officer, stated that “this operation constitutes a new step in fulfilling our Strategic Plan, which plans to achieve 383 MW of installed capacity in biomass generation by 2020.” The CEO of Ence said that “we expect to achieve rapid synergies in all our power plants after the operation materialized, thanks to our knowledge and management capacity of agricultural and forestry biomass, technology of which we are leaders in Spain.”

The plants, which mainly use olive stones (biomass derived from the treatment of the olive for oil extraction), very abundant in the surroundings of the installations, have a total power of 32 MW and will reach an estimated net production of 175 million kWh in 2016. Its estimated EBITDA will reach € 5.6 million in 2016, which will help to strengthen the stability of Ence’s results.
Las plantas de Enemansa y La Loma iniciaron su operación comercial en 2003 y disponen de avanzados sistemas para la minimización de emisiones, por lo que se adaptan perfectamente al compromiso de Ence de garantizar en todo momento la sostenibilidad y el respeto al medio ambiente en el aprovechamiento de la biomasa.

Enemansa and La Loma power plants began their commercial operation in 2003 and they have advanced systems for the minimization of emissions, so that they perfectly adapt to Ence’s commitments to guarantee the sustainability and environmental care in the use of the biomass.

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