Maximising Return From AD Assets

Louise Smyth

Now is the perfect time for AD sites to optimise their operations. From increasing CHP engine efficiency to improving control capabilities, embracing the latest innovation can drive a considerable uplift in returns.

Recent analysis from the National Non-Food Crops Centre (NNFCC) calculates that there are 486 anaerobic digestion (AD) plants in the UK, 338 of which are farm-based. With Feed in Tariffs (FiTs) and Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) subsidies running out, however, experts are encouraging farmers to consider efficient ways to optimise their operations. This will not only drive immediate revenue, but also future-proof their sites post-subsidies.

Managing Daily Engine Checks

Your engine needs daily checks, regular fluid top-ups, periodic servicing and replacement parts to appease general wear and tear. Although it’s possible to action a number of these tasks yourself, there will always be some responsibilities that are best left to the experts – especially for certain functions made inaccessible by manufacturer restrictions.

Having a solution in place to manage the day-to-day operations and maintenance of a CHP is therefore paramount to its performance, efficiency and longevity. Whether that covers the entire servicing element or simply takes the more complex milestone requirements off your hands, working with an expert will ensure a site maximises performance and efficiency in the long-term.

To support this, operators need a trusted supplier of spare parts, fluids and everything in-between.

Focusing On Increasing Efficiencies

Although an engine may be well maintained, it could still be performing well below its full potential. For example, equipment availability on reciprocating engines at a well-run CHP plant is typically in the 92 to 94% range, whereas many plants in the industry are operating at levels in the 70 to 75% range. Alongside maintenance, there are numerous ways to optimise an older, lower-performing plant.

Electric Turbo Compounding (ETC)

Electric turbo compounding (ETC) products make gas and diesel-powered gensets work more cleanly and effectively, by recovering waste energy from the exhaust to improve power density and fuel efficiency.

The technology is equally suited to new-build and retrofit applications, for engines in the 150kW-2MW range. By integrating ETC technology with engines, it’s possible to achieve enhanced power generation capacity efficiencies.

Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC)

Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) works by harnessing excess heat from a CHP engine and turning it into power. The units capture excess heat, using it in a process of evaporation. As a thermal oil is pumped through at high pressure it begins to boil and turns into gas. The gas flows through an expander, which causes a generator to spin and produce power. The gas is then cooled back into its liquid form to begin the process again.

Manufacturer-Restricted Control Systems

Many sites are inadvertently hindered by manufacturer-restricted control systems. This not only limits CHP access and management, but also prevents site managers from collating live performance data across their engine fleet.

By replacing proprietary control systems with open protocol alternatives, a CHP engine can interoperate without the need for a proprietary interface or gateway. This allows engineers to easily control each setup without the need for specialist support and provides immediate digital access.

The added benefit of internet connectivity means engineers can even control engines from an off-site location, which further reduces costs and dramatically improves uptime.

CooperOstlund understands that no two sites are the same, so it approaches every situation in a bespoke fashion. Alongside providing a range of different maintenance programmes, it also offers plant improvement technologies to guarantee the best possible return on investment for a site.

Tim Broadhurst is chief commercial officer at CooperOstlund

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