Smart Energy: Insights from the ADE Conference

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UK energy sector is breaking into uncharted territory as it is gradually shifting towards a fully decarbonised model.  Power, heat and transport, national systems to local systems, traditional and new assets, as well as innovators and suppliers are seeking to fulfil the potential of the UK’s “smart system” which will be required to deliver a decarbonised economy.

This formed the theme of the Association for Decentralised Energy (ADE) summer conference, which BasePower attended as an active ADE member. Last week, a groundbreaking law was passed in the House of Commons requiring the UK to achieve net zero carbon emissions in a thirty-year time frame. Mike Thompson of the Committee on Climate Change noted the symbolism of the UK being the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution in his keynote speech, which now has the most advanced climate change target in the world.

The recent report published by the Committee on Climate Change sets out the case for Government to realise this goal and reach net zero emissions by 2050. The UK recently ran without coal for two weeks, reflecting that 50% of its electricity supply is already from low carbon sources.  However, the supply of clean electricity needs to double and will require a combination of technologies including hydrogen power,, carbon capture and storage, heat pumps and battery storage, as well as significant investment and planning to deliver the ambitious target.   

How to Deliver Smart Energy

The conference featured a number of presentations on the innovations in smart systems that will be required to support the new energy landscape. One of the key developments is the increasing use of data to analyse and process energy demand and dispatch in real time. Joe McDonald from LimeJump, an aggregator and technology provider, described how they are currently managing Demand Side Response assets live and entering them in the energy markets; once it reaches a critical mass it may evolve to a full virtual market.

Andy McKay of Evergreen Smart Power, discussed the rapid take up of electric vehicles with a 30% growth rate expected within the next few years.  Smart charging will be required to cope with the expected post work surge.. Electric vehicles will also need to be vehicle-to-grid compliant but questions still remain on commercial arrangements for consumers and businesses sending power back to the grid. BasePower believes that CHP technology could play a key role at weaker parts of the electrical grid, which will help to support the roll out of electric vehicles.

 With 10,000 properties across the estate, TFL is the largest energy user in London. Alex Gilbert, TFL’s Senior Strategy Manager for Commercial Energy, shared some of its energy efficiency initiatives, which include the electrification of the entire network. He also shared how TFL is increasingly using renewables, using heat from CHP schemes and increasing its use of heat networks..

The Energy Systems Catapult is helping to deliver the UK’s objectives for the transformation of energy systems. There are a number of barriers that need to be addressed to deliver a more user-led energy system according to Guy Newey. He outlined their current project on decarbonising heating in the domestic markets. Their research is considering how householders could be incentivised to move away from conventional boilers to a heating model based on heating as a service model. Delivering a decarbonised economy and a net zero emissions will require fundamental changes to consumer habits, which are both complex and challenging.

 BasePower’s vision is that CHP will continue to be an important technology in industrial sectors and will play a more flexible role as the grid moves to a higher percentage of renewables. CHP schemes will be implemented as the initial core technology and then replaced with a more sustainable heat source at the end of their working lives.  

To find out how BasePower can help your business reduce energy spend and carbon emissions, contact us today.

 

BasePower Seeks CHP Design Engineer

BasePower is an award-winning company with an innovative business model enabling large manufacturers to make a step-change reduction in energy costs and carbon emissions. We seek a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) Design Engineer to join our rapidly expanding company based in London Waterloo, which designs, builds and operates on-site energy generation schemes for FTSE 250 clients primarily in the automotive and food manufacturing sectors.

 The CHP Design Engineer will provide a critical role in supporting the BasePower team with the effective design and delivery of on-site energy projects. The ideal candidate will be a self-starter, with an Engineering-related degree and a minimum of 4 years experience gained within energy, manufacturing or a process industry. The role consists of the following key areas:

 Assessment

  • Visit BasePower’s manufacturing sites with commercial and technical colleagues and field technical queries

  • Capture relevant data during interviews with site employees and through site tours

  • Obtain and analyse further information through follow-up correspondence and calls

  • Model site energy loads and CHP production using company tools to assess project returns under various scenarios

  • Configure projects, contribute to studies and proposals, re-attend sites to present work and move the development forward.

Design and development

  • Write specifications for suppliers based on project requirements

  • Host site visits with suppliers and colleagues to resolve design options and de-risk projects

  • Engage with suppliers to identify potential cost savings

  • Run tenders for key project subsystems

  • Attend sites in a construction management or technical support capacity as required.

 

Required experience/skills

  • Engineering-related degree

  • 4+ years’ experience in energy, manufacturing or process industry

  • Experience in delivering engineering projects, ideally:

  • Identifying opportunities

  • Modelling financial returns 

  • Costing projects

  • Identifying stakeholders and assessing concerns

  • Procurement 

  • Project management and delivery

  • Commissioning 

  • Strong Excel and PowerPoint skills; Microsoft Project would be a plus.

 

Preferred experience/competencies

  • Experience of Combined Heat and Power or onsite generation

  • Process engineering experience

  • Electric engineering experience (High voltage would be useful)

  • Experience with industrial controls systems (software or hardware)         

  • Experience of using energy management systems.

     

BasePower is headquartered in a modern office space for the built environment sector and is situated minutes from London’s Waterloo station. The role is ideally suited to a self-starter who is comfortable with comparatively low levels of oversight, and seeks an opportunity to join a fast-growing company with an entrepreneurial culture. The position entails a mix of time in the office and travel to customer sites in the UK with an occasional overnight stay.

The salary package includes:

  • A competitive salary based on experience and a company bonus scheme

  • A programme of formal training and opportunities to study for third party qualifications

  • 25 days holiday

  • Relocation expenses

 Eligibility to work within the UK is required for candidates applying for the role.

To apply, please send your CV by email to info@basepower.com

 

The future of energy debated at Westminster seminar

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Innovation and the future direction of the UK energy sector was recently debated at the Westminster Energy, Environment and Transport seminar, featuring keynote sessions and panels from a number of policymakers and stakeholders.

Chi Onwurah MP, Shadow Minister for Industrial Strategy, Science and Innovation, who opened the conference, argued that the UK should incorporate new innovations such as battery technology and energy from low carbon sources to help decarbonise the economy.

In his keynote speech, Matthew Billson, Head of Strategy - Energy Innovation Programme at BEIS said the UK leads the world in decoupling growth from emissions and the Government’s investment in energy is higher than ever before.  As a result, there is increasing innovation in commercialising new technologies which can play a key role in the UK’s aim to become a low carbon economy. The automotive sector is leading the way. Honda recently announced a partnership with UK battery technology firm Moixa to support the electrification of all its vehicles in Europe by 2025.  And earlier this year, Mitsubishi Corporation announced a 20 per cent stake in Ovo Energy, as it seeks a foothold in the digital energy transition.

Electricity Generation - the choices involved

Matthew Billson outlined the Clean Growth Strategy of 2017, which details the Government’s plans in response to the Climate Change Act. He discussed the allocation of a £505 million funding grant for the Energy Innovation Programme as part of the Government’s aim to accelerate the commercialisation of cheap, clean and reliable energy technologies by the 2020s.

 The primary technologies and their relative merits are:

·       £180m – Nuclear
Almost free from CO2 emissions but costly, difficult to tweak the output and process the resultant waste.

·       £15m - Renewables
Emissions free, also costly, not dispatchable and requiring plenty of space.

 ·       £100m - CCS and industry.
Support for industrial energy efficiency is welcome but large-scale CO2 capture and storage remains tied to depository locations off shore for further fossil fuel extraction.

·       £90m – Built Environment
The UK’s building stock needs significant investment to reduce our domestic and commercial heating demand.

·       £70m - Smart systems
More flexibility will be required from the grid as the % of renewables on the grid increases. 

The opportunities of battery storage to support our future energy systems was one of the clear themes of the day.  Energy from renewable sources has grown considerably but grid storage is still needed to smooth out the supply of renewables when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining. Significant progress has been made in the short-term battery sector (sub 4 hours capacity) over the last few years to provide grid services and support during times of strain, but longer term storage systems require more development.

Neil Morris of the Faraday Institution argued that the UK leads in vehicle electrification, as evidenced in London’s growing fleet of electrified buses and taxis. Although only 10% of cars are currently electric the target is to reach 100% by 2040 so there is huge potential for growth.

Funding is to be allocated to the Built Environment to decarbonise buildings, including the roll out of smart meters, use of big data and smart systems such as demand side response and vehicle to grid.

Hydrogen energy was increasingly talked about as a clean energy source for the future but there were lots of questions from the floor about the lack of a governing policy framework and the costs of production, which is still more expensive than other fuels. Generating hydrogen from excess renewable electricity at night is being explored alongside steam reformation of methane and the subsequent carbon capture of the CO2.

The role of CHP in a decarbonised economy

Robin Hardy, BasePower’s Projects Director, presented a session on Combined Heat and Power (CHP), which is becoming increasingly adopted by industrial users with a high electrical and heat demand such as food and automotive manufacturers.  He explained how CHP can be over 80% efficient if waste heat is captured and used to offset the use of additional fuel for manufacturing processes.  Heavy energy users who install CHP schemes can significantly reduce their energy costs and carbon emissions.

Robin covered some of the challenges to implementing CHP schemes including addressing the different needs of stakeholders and the complexity associated with connecting to the increasingly congested electrical grid. BasePower has found the gas network to be more resilient and less of a project constraint than the electrical network.

From a regulatory point of view we have found that it pays off to engage early with planning and environmental offices to allay any concerns prior to development starting. Containerising the schemes has often helped our projects proceed under permitted development.

Robin finished by demonstrating how CHP can play a more flexible role as the grid moves to a higher % renewables and how the technology can also play a role in helping the roll out of electric vehicles at weaker parts of the electrical grid.

During the follow up questions Robin discussed the model of sharing the heat from industrially led schemes to neighbouring commercial and residential properties. BasePower’s vision is that long lasting heating networks can be pioneered with CHP as the initial core technology but then replaced with the a more sustainable heat source at the end of its working life.

According to a recent think tank report, Britain must completely decarbonise in the coming three decades if the country is to meet its long-term climate change objectives. The Westminster Forum seminar demonstrated evidence of real technical innovation within the industry and the speakers declared that collaboration is vital between the various suppliers and the stakeholders for it to succeed. However there is still a long way to go.

 

BasePower to speak at Westminster Energy, Environment & Transport Forum

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BasePower’s Robin Hardy has been invited to speak alongside a number of experts from the energy sector at the Westminster Energy, Environment & Transport Forum Keynote Seminar.

“Priorities for UK energy innovation: funding, commercialisation and collaboration,” will bring together policymakers and key stakeholders to discuss innovation and future direction in the UK energy sector. Chaired by Chi Onwurah MP, Shadow Minister for Industrial Strategy, Science and Innovation, the line up includes a keynote speech from Matthew Billson, Head of Strategy - Energy Innovation Programme, at the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Robin Hardy, BasePower’s Projects Director, will present “Combined Heat and Power (CHP) technology; the challenges for industrial integration,” under the key conference themes of technological development and innovation.  He will discuss the integration of CHP technology into sectors such as food and automotive where manufacturers are looking to mitigate the rising costs of energy.  He will look at the opportunities to deliver energy cost and carbon savings for the industry and discuss how a well-configured CHP project can actually be more efficient than grid generation. He will also demonstrate case studies where on-site energy schemes have been successfully integrated into a site’s existing operations.

The Westminster Energy Environment & Transport Forum Keynote Seminar takes place on Thursday 7 March at 61 Whitehall, London. Tickets are available by booking on the event website.

 

Cranswick and BasePower energy project goes live at flagship food production site

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BasePower and Cranswick plc announce that the CHP energy scheme at their Cranswick Country Foods site in Preston, Hull has been switched on.

Cranswick plc is a leading British producer of fresh and added value food products with an annual turnover of over £1.4bn.  They produce fresh meat, including pork and chicken as well as producing gourmet sausage & bacon, cooked meats, continental foods and savoury pastry products.  Most of the products are sold under own label brands for retailers, manufactures and food service operators. 

The site in Hull is the largest in the group and contains modern, well-invested facilities for the processing and production of fresh pork.  Due to the scale of the operation, the business is always looking for ways to reduce the carbon impact of the site, and also looking to bring down the cost of production. 

A 2.0MW CHP scheme has been developed and installed by BasePower, which is fully containerised in a noise-reducing complex.  Following a 12-month design and construction process the CHP was connected on schedule and in time for Christmas 2018. The scheme generates electricity and steam and the commissioning of hot water supplies is underway. When fully ramped up the CHP is projected to supply the majority of the site’s total electricity requirements and significantly reduce its overall electricity costs. The scheme will also reduce Cranswick’s carbon footprint with the saving of over 650 tonnes of CO2 per year.

BasePower has provided the full investment for the CHP system under a 9-year Power Purchase Agreement and will construct and operate the CHP throughout its life.

Darren Andrew, Site Director, Cranswick Country Foods said:
“Cranswick prides itself on being an industry leader in green thinking. Our dedication to reducing energy use and lowering the carbon footprint of our food production sites is a core part of our Second Nature initiative. BasePower’s on-site energy scheme underpins this commitment along with our own recent upgrades to animal welfare, food waste reduction and environmental performance here at Preston.”

Image shown courtesy of Cranswick plc

11 tips to consider when procuring a CHP project

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If your business is considering installing an on-site power generation scheme, getting the right project in place will have a clear impact on the subsequent energy and carbon savings that you can expect. So how do you ensure you choose the right scheme? Procurement teams often ask BasePower for advice so we have compiled some of the commercial, technical and operational questions you might wish to ask bidders.

 

1. What is the project’s true ROI likely to be?
Whether you or the bidder are financing the project, the higher the project’s return on investment, the higher the savings will be to you. CHP ROI is a function of:

·       The quantity of heat and power displaced from the grid

·       The electricity and gas prices over the life of the project

·       The project’s annual running hours

·       The average engine efficiency and therefore amount of gas fuel used

·       The Capex required given the scope of the project, and how this is financed.

 

It can be difficult for non-CHP specialists to interrogate numbers given by bidders, and the best way is usually to ask for actual figures from at least one project that the bidder is currently operating. Look for a partner who will give you an honest, realistic assessment of the expected energy savings.

 

2. Before starting, do you understand your site’s energy use and costs?
Before proceeding with a project, ensure you have a gained an accurate picture of your current energy costs and usage patterns, ideally on a half-hourly basis for the major uses. This will allow bidders to right-size a project, and also allow you to assess whether the CHP scheme proposed is realistic for your operation.

 

3. Have it laid out your way
It’s really important to get all bid information in as standard a format as possible, otherwise it can be very difficult to compare bids. In BasePower’s experience, asking bidders to complete a Performance Spreadsheet can be enormously helpful in giving you enough data to make an informed decision about the project's potential benefits. This should detail what heat and power the CHP will supply on an hourly basis throughout the year against a typical year of site demand. It should also calculate how the benefits are built up and help you check that the performance claims are realistic. Ask us for an example if you don’t have one.

 

4. What is required from the site?
You will want to choose a level of involvement that suits the skills and resource available from your company. Therefore get bidders to be crystal clear whether your organisation, as the buyer, will be responsible for any development (e.g. obtaining planning consent, environmental permit variations or grid connection offers), construction (enabling works, site management, Prime Contractor) or operational (insurance, compliance, fuel procurement) roles.

 

5. What will you really pay, and what if your energy use changes? 
There should be a clearly understandable mechanism which sets the price of power, steam, hot water and chill for your business, so you can run your own scenarios based on volume and price changes. Find out whether the proposed contracts include ‘take or pay’ or penal clauses if you change the quantity or balance of energy use on site, or close the site altogether. Finally, this may seem obvious but we have met bargain-looking offers where the host had not been told that they would be paying for the gas as well as the power. That may be fine for you, but don’t forget to check who pays for what.

 

6. Who will take the risk on CHPQA and Carbon
Government literature assumes that CHP projects will be at least as energy- and carbon-efficient as the generation technology they displace. Projects that do not meet this aim are more likely to be adversely affected by the further carbon legislation that will be brought in during their lifetime. Bidders should demonstrate clearly the CHPQA QI score and CO2 savings for the project, so that the buyer can calculate any effect on Enhanced Capital Allowances, Climate Change Levy or Climate Change Agreement charges if ‘Good Quality CHP’ or CO2 reductions are not achieved.

 

7. How robust is the project to changes in energy pricing?
Look at how many of the proposed benefits in the CHP contract are expected to come from energy charges e.g. Triad and DUoS avoidance. Be sceptical about benefits associated with avoiding these costs as these charges are currently under review by the Government at present. Ask your bidder how they think these might change and what impact will this have in the future?

 

8. What will the supplier guarantee?
It is vitally important to understand in what circumstances any supplier’s guarantees may not hold. This could potentially range from overruns in Devex or Capex, falls in consumption volumes, a changes to Embedded Benefits or even a delay in the project.

 

9. What happens if things go wrong?
We all know that moving parts trip or fail from time to time. Above all you will not want any site disruption if things go wrong at the CHP. From the start insist that the CHP scheme does not make the manufacturing site dependent on the CHP for its operation, and give engineering colleagues the right to sign off that the scheme does not allow CHP faults or trips to propagate into the factory’s power or heat infrastructure.  

 

10. Plan for the long term
A CHP Scheme can last between 10-15 years therefore ask bidders to describe to you their medium-term plans. How will the project’s O&M be arranged and how are major overhauls accounted for? Will there be a daily visual inspection? What about performance reviews, and what leverage do you have if performance promises are not met? 

 

11. Ask for references
Finally, ask bidders what recent projects they have installed in the last 24 months that are a similar size to your situation. Ideally the reference sites should use power and heat in a similar way and have similar commercial arrangements. Bidders should be willing to take you to see the scheme in operation and let you talk directly to the host.

 

For a complimentary Performance Spreadsheet template with a handy checklist to help your Procurement process, please contact our team.

7 energy efficiency tips for automotive manufacturers

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There are tough times in automotive right now. In the year to date, overall output has declined by -6.6% according to SMMT, driven predominantly by falling UK demand, which is currently down -18.6%. This has been compounded by slower growth across Europe and the uncertainty over Brexit and new diesel regulations.  The low pound also means raw materials and subcomponents are more expensive, so every pound in the business has to go further.

How can the energy manager do their bit to help the company reduce its energy consumption and become more efficient?  Here are our top tips:

  1. In BasePower’s experience, getting a multi-disciplinary team together to address energy use across the business is the most helpful first step. It will take engineers to identify where energy can be saved, but back-up from procurement and finance colleagues gives credence to savings forecasts and can make it much easier to secure any necessary investment.

  2. It is essential to understand where you use the most energy, so aim to collect hourly energy use data for each major plant item for a defined period of time. You can then start to identify where waste occurs and savings can be made.

  3. A cheap and effective way of saving energy is for it to become embedded in the behavioural culture of the business. All employees can feel responsible for playing their part.  Successful examples include switching non-essential machinery off when production stops, and regular re-setting of flow and temperature settings. As well as costing nothing to introduce, these also reduce wear and tear costs on plant.

  4. If you haven’t carried out many energy efficiency projects before, it is best to start with low-budget interventions with solid paybacks as these build confidence. LED lighting is at least 60% more efficient even than fluorescent systems. Variable Speed Drives, which allow motors, pumps and conveyors to be operated at just the power required to achieve the desired output, also reduce start-stop wear and tear on plant.

  5. Power Factor Correction increases the low power factor often experienced by manufacturers, thereby reducing the site’s kVA and kVArh costs.

  6. Air compressor heat recovery captures the 90% of compressor energy that would otherwise be dissipated as heating the oil cooler, using it on site for space heating and similar high volume, low temperature requirements.

  7. Destratification fans reduce space heat requirements by up to 20% through homogenising air temperatures within high buildings.

The impact of any one of these tips is relatively small in isolation. However demonstrating successful paybacks internally is really effective in building confidence for more ambitious interventions such as Combined Heat and Power (CHP) projects where the big savings really start to stack up. 

On-going rises in energy prices mean that many of BasePower’s own on-site energy generation schemes deliver savings of over 15% on the grid cost of energy supplied when fully-funded by BasePower, while customer-funded projects can pay back in in three years or less if well-utilised, as well as significantly reducing the site’s carbon footprint.  Contact us for more information.

 

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The pressure to be leaner and greener is prompting manufacturers to take a long hard look at their energy usage. BasePower’s George Fowkes is interviewed by Food Manufacturer magazine on how the food industry can reduce its energy costs with CHP.

This article was published in the September issue of Food Manufacturer and is also available on their website.

BasePower Shortlisted for Second Industry Award for Automotive Project

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BasePower’s on-site energy scheme at Plastic Omnium, Measham has been shortlisted for an Association of Decentralised Energy award, the second time that a BasePower project has reached the finals of an industry award in 2018.

The Combined Heat, Power and Cooling project at Plastic Omnium, Measham, is recognised as the first on-site energy scheme in the UK automotive sector to use absorption chiller technology to significantly reduce energy costs and carbon. Since the project was switched on in June 2017 the targeted savings for electricity and heat use have already been exceeded, along with a considerable improvement in the site’s CO2 footprint.

The Association of Decentralised Energy (ADE) awards are designed to recognise and celebrate decentralised energy achievements and the innovations of the future. The awards will take place at a black tie event at London’s Guildhall on 25th October.

BasePower’s project at Plastic Omnium Measham also made the finals of the Business Green Leaders Awards earlier in the year, while its CHP at Groupe Lactalis Caledonian Cheese in Stranraer won a Rushlight Award in 2017.

BasePower shortlisted for Business Green Leaders Award for automotive project

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BasePower has been shortlisted for a Business Green Leaders Award for its on-site energy project at Plastic Omnium, a Tier 1 supplier to the automotive industry. The Business Green Leaders Awards shine a light on the UK's leading green businesses, recognising the progress of sustainable business models and clean technologies which have continued to force their way into the mainstream.

BasePower has reached the shortlist in the annual sustainability awards for the company's initiatives to drive energy efficiency in the automotive industry.  Its CHP project at Plastic Omnium Measham, a Tier 1 supplier to JLR and Nissan, is recognised as the first CHP project in the UK automotive sector to use absorption chiller technology to significantly reduce energy costs and carbon. 

BasePower will join finalists across 25 different categories at the 8th annual Business Green Leaders Award awards ceremony, taking place on Wednesday 27 June at the Brewery, London.