Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Sustainable promise by biofuel power firm

The company behind the UK’s first ever vegetable oil fuelled power station will sign up to a binding legal agreement which means it can only use sustainable crops.

The new Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant  in Beckton has been recommended for approval by councillors on Newham Council and is likely to be formally approved by the London Thames Gateway Development Corporation on Thursday June 12

Up to 20MW of electrical power could be generated by the plant being developed by Blue-NG, a joint venture between National Grid and renewable specialist 2OC, and the additional 5MW of thermal power which would generated could link in with district heating schemes.

But, councillors have said the scheme can only go ahead if Blue-NG agrees to a Section 106 agreement which prevents the facility using biofuel sourced from non-sustainable crops.

blue-ng power proposalsBlue-NG chief executive Andrew Mercer (pictured) said: “Councillors have recognised Blue-NG can help to reduce London’s carbon emissions which helping to maintain secure and affordable power from renewables. We are delighted to sign up to a sustainable procurement policy for our vegetable oil, which we hope will be a model of best practice.

“Planning approval from Newham means we are on target to be producing renewable energy in London for Londoners by 2010, helping the city to meet its sustainability goals.”

There has been concern over the use of biofuels with Biofuelwatch urging Newham Council due to worries over the impact on the supply chain. The independent campaign group said although Blue-NG was committing itself to sourcing biofuel from sustainable sources this could still have a knock on effect by forcing other companies to use non-sustainable sources.

However, Blue-NG points out it worked with Greenpeace UK on developing its sustainable policy and has received the organisation's seal of approval for its proposals.

Blue-NG's claims:

Electrical output =
approx 20Mw electrical and 5Mw thermal
Total plant electrical efficiency = 73.6 per cent average and 81 per cent peak
Total plant efficiency including heat = 92.5 per cent average and 96 per cent peak
John Sauven, executive director at Greenpeace UK, said:  “Greenpeace, in common with many other environmental non-governmental organisations, is concerned about the unsustainable use of biofuels, especially for road transport. However, we believe that with strong caveats they have a role to play in the UK’s electricity generation industry where they offer the potential for substantial carbon savings.'

Blue-NG hopes to follow up the Beckton scheme with another in Southall with six more pilot sites planned.

Blue-NG explains its system

The company is pioneering a system called Closed Cycle Bio Generation (CCBG) and has patented a new type of Combined Heat and Power (CHP) it has called Combined Heat and Intelligent Power (CHiP)

Existing facility:

'Beckton is home to a Pressure Reduction Station (PRS). One of many within the UK gas pipeline network. When gas comes out of the ground and flows within pipelines, it is under very high pressure.

'To make it safe for use in homes and industry, the PRS reduces that pressure from high to low. As the pressure reduces the gas temperature drops, and in many cases it is necessary to heat up the gas before passing it through the pressure reducing valve. Today, that is done by burning gas in a boiler to heat up the gas in the pipeline.

'There is no power generation at a PRS and the heat from the gas burners is used only to heat up the gas in the pipeline.'

'Sustainable energy crops provide the vegetable oil which is the fuel for our engines. The engines burn the oil that generate electricity. The engines become hot and rather than just waste that heat, we put it into a special type of generating cycle (known as an Organic Rankin Cycle or ORC) which produces more electricity.

'Some more of the heat from the engines and the ORC is used to heat up the gas in the adjacent pipeline. We then recapture that heat from the pipeline using a recovery turbine generator, to create even more electricity.

'We still have some heat remaining that we can capture and divert for use in local district heating schemes.So, the CCBG produces 3 streams of electricity and one stream of heat.'