WHAT IS COGENERATION?

Cogeneration, often referred to as Combined Heat and Power (CHP), represents the simultaneous production of electricity and heat from one primary energy source. The purpose of a CHP is to maximize the efficiency and tap as much energy as possible from the primary fuel: in fact, combined energy production can increase fuel efficiency (fossil or renewable) beyond 80%. This translates into lower generation costs and lower emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases (especially CO2) compared to traditional separate production of electricity and heat.

Cogeneration is quite popular in certain countries, where large plants (>1 MW) have been serving industries and communities, providing decentralized heat and power. The vast majority of CHP plants use combustion of traditional fossil fuel such as coal, oil or LNG, being such conversion technology a proven and reliable one. Nevertheless, higher CO2 savings and less fuel cost can be reached through alternative technologies (like gasification) and non-fossil fuels such as biomass, vegetable oil, biodiesel, ethanol, biogas or biomethane. These technologies, including biomass gasification, have been constantly improving in recent years also at smaller power ranges, till reaching a proper reliability degree.

Energy production from renewable, non-fossil fuels, has been boosted over the last years by a number of support scheme policies, feed-in tariffs, green certificates and tax rebate, with the goal of reducing GHG emissions and help fighting climate change, beside promoting both distributed power generation and distribution costs reduction.

Cogeneration can become also Trigeneration or Quadrigeneration, whenever other outputs are tapped, such as cooling, biochar, and CO2. In fact, CO2 demanding industries like breweries, food and beverage or cement industries can benefit from the availability of gaseous CO2. Another interesting use case is represented by greenhouses, horticulture and plant nurseries, which can benefit from using simultaneously the 4 output of a cogeneration system: power, heat, biochar (for soil conditioning) and CO2 for carbonic fertilization. Increasing the concentration of CO2, in fact, boosts photosynthesis, resulting into higher crop yields.

THE BENEFITS OF COGENERATION

Biomass cogeneration offers several advantages, compared to other renewable energy technologies like sun or wind power; let’s just name few of them:

  1. It is dispatchable and flexible system, not depending on sunlight or wind presence, but only on feedstock supply and availability. Therefore, power generation through CHP can be programmed according to specific needs, without causing grid peaks and overloading;
  2. the land use of a SyngaSmart plant is far less compared to an equivalent solar or wind power station, it does not require a dedicated building or infrastructure thanks to its containerized design, suitable either for indoor and outdoor installations;
  3. last, cogeneration allows combined production of multiple forms of power from a single energy carrier: therefore, it has an intrinsically superior potential and efficiency, compared to other technologies for power generation from renewable sources of energy.

SYNGASMART COGENERATION PLANTS FEATURES

Environment

Cogeneration plants, in particular biomass systems, offer clear benefits in terms of environmental impact: through the combined production of electricity and heat, in fact, it is possible to reduce the need of supplying energy from separate sources. On top of that, SyngaSmart plants run on biomass, a renewable and wide available source of energy. Using biomass reduces the dependence on fossil fuels and allows to generate energy without additional release of CO2 into the atmosphere: in fact, biomass captures CO2 from the environmental Carbon cycle and locks it in its chemical bonds through photosynthesis. SyngaSmart carbon-negative also allows Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) through the production of biochar, recycling into the atmosphere only a fraction of the CO2 originally absorbed by the biomass during its life cycle. Not only biochar sequesters carbon, but can be used as an agricultural soil improver, water purification system, deodorizing medium for biofilters, zootechnical food supplement, additive for compost and much more.

Modularity

SyngaSmart CHPs show a modular layout through an insulated and soundproof container system, allowing hassle-free installation in different contexts (indoor and outdoor), transport and relocation. Comparing it to an equivalent power PV or wind farm, SyngaSmart technology has a minimal visual impact. Another important feature is represented by safety. SyngaSmart plants are characterized by two processes that occur simultaneously: the generation of fuel from biomass (bio-syngas) and its immediate use to produce electricity and heat. The integrated process takes place without any storage of the gas, thus ensuring maximum safety: the operation process occurs in a slight depression, with an automatic shutdown in case of anomalies. The plant can be operated both locally and remotely through a simple internet connection, as it is highly automated and operable through a SCADA interface (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition).

Economic benefits

SyngaSmart plants generate power, an essential commodity for both industry and communities. On top of that, they use low value feedstock which sometimes represent a cost: consequently, revenues are generated from both input and output.

SyngaSmart technology allows to turn waste organic by-products into valuable energy; this is particularly relevant when biomass is normally managed as waste and landfilled, thus representing a cost (transport, disposal). SyngaSmart can turn down these costs, generating immediate revenues.

As far as energy is concerned, SyngaSmart can partially or totally replace grid power or diesel generators. Self-production and self-consumption reduce grid power purchase through billing mechanism such as net metering and energy communities, thus generating revenues. Furthermore, energy can be exported and sold with PPA and other purchase systems.

Lastly, an additional revenue stream is represented by biochar, which can be sold in farming and agriculture, greenhouses and horticulture.