Friday, 20 August 2010

NER 300 - EU Recognises Torrefaction Technology

This is a marvellous announcement, and the FIRST time we have seen recognition of Torrefaction technology by a Major National Governing body; (No offence to Taiwan's EPA Minister Stephen Shu-Hung Shen - who said that "using low-temperature torrefaction to convert bio-fuel to eco-coal for co-generation is the most efficient way of harnessing biomass energy"); and had that recognition backed up by the potential for on-going financial support.

To quote the decision paper; one of the Appendix I Renewable Categories specifically identifies the conversion of "Lignocellulose to intermediate solid, liquid or slurry bioenergy carriers via torrefaction with capacity 40 kt/yr (kilo tonnes per year) of the final product". What more needs to be said?

There is however, one tiny little issue with this. (There's ALWAYS a fly in the ointment, isn't there?)

The application process is limited to a small number of projects per MS (Member State). Essentially - instead of distributing the funding on some formula (population - for example) it is based on the NUMBER of projects. Each MS is guaranteed ONE - but will be able to apply for 3.

hmmmmm . . . . .SO - given the choice of putting forward a £3 Million project, or a £30 Million project, which do you think the Government will do? The answer - came swiftly from the DECC in the Consultation paper on the NER 300. To no ones surprise - they have effectively already made up their mind to submit WAVE and TIDAL power projects, as their "technology of choice".

In this Consultation Document (Although - I am unaware of anyone who was "consulted" on the matter) they state:

"Our approach to preparing the UK shortlist (pre-selection) for the NER300 will be to seek to maximise the UK’s overall financial return and ensure that return contributes to our domestic priorities. Among the 34 subcategories of innovative Renewable Demonstration projects eligible for support, our preference for the projects we would like to consider short-listing for NER support are those projects falling within the ocean category. These are wave energy devices with nominal capacity 5MW, marine/tidal currents energy devices with nominal capacity 5MW and ocean thermal energy conversion with nominal capacity 10MW."

Well - there you have it! So - it looks like Torrefaction doesn't have the proverbial snowball's chance in h*ll of being put forward by the DECC to the EU under this funding mechanism.

What to do . . . .what to do . . . ?

Well - one would suppose that the other developers of torrefaction in the EU are rubbing their hands together in glee. After all - one of the horses in the race is dead long before the race begins, and that means that there is one less Country (read - competing technology) to worry about. Who knows - maybe France or Spain or Germany will also write-off torrefaction before it even gets a chance?

It does however, appear that if there are no more than 1 or 2 projects submitted in any single technology category - that the EU will simply "strike off" the technology for "lack of interest".

Oh well - a brief moment of hope is shattered by a long period of disappointment. Nonetheless - we still have our reactor to complete.

Speaking of which - I thought you might like to see what it will look like when finished. There's a picture of a 900 tonne per year reactor at the top of this Blog Page. (I bet you were wondering what the heck that was, weren't you?

This unit is manufactured in France, and is specifically designed to produce bio-coal at a "community" (not Utility) scale. If all things go well - we will have one of these here in the next few months for trials and research. I can hardly wait.

You have to admit - it IS a pretty cool looking piece of kit - all bright and shiny stainless steel.

For now - we continue to trudge on with the day to day chores.

Damn the torpedoes - full steam ahead