World’s smallest biomass power plant debuts in Scotland with VG Energy

The Entrade E3 biomass boiler
The Entrade E3 biomass boiler

The world’s smallest biomass power plant makes its Scottish debut this week at the Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh with Scottish renewable technology specialists VG Energy.

VG Energy is the first Scottish business – and only the second in the UK – to purchase an E3 biomass power plant, which the company will display at the show from 18-21 June.

Set up eight years ago, Ayrshire-based VG Energy is a wind turbine installer and renewables consultancy, which also installed more than 150 biomass boilers last year.

Long term, VG Energy – which is a member of the Renewable Energy Association – the largest renewables trade body in the UK – will use the E3 to power its operations and as a demonstration model for potential clients in the Scottish market.

The E3 is a micro-biomass power plant, which provides decentralised energy supply in developed and emerging markets. In a high-temperature reactor the compact power station uses solid biomass to generate high-quality syngas, which is used to produce up to 22kW of electricity and 55kW of thermal energy.

With cubed dimensions of appx 200cm, the biomass generator is compact and can be easily transported anywhere in the world. Its modular concept enables individual units to be combined to form a larger plant while maintaining scalable power generation – SMART Plant – turning off a portion of a power plant during off peak demand.

German manufacturer Entrade Energiesysteme made a technological breakthrough last year in the production of clean syn gas which has enabled it to develop virtually maintenance-free power plants and outcompete other sources of energy on cost, durability, carbon neutrality, transportability and maintenance. 

The E3 can operate on or off-grid, meaning that any energy not consumed locally can be sold directly to the electricity grid.  The generator also provides heating and cooling.

Entrade has identified an immediate £800 million market, for which it plans to create as many as 120 jobs.  Within the UK, the appetite for biomass is particularly powerful in Scotland – where nearly 50% of electricity generated comes from renewables.

Julien Uhlig, Chief Executive, Entrade, commented: “The UK Government is reducing the Renewable Heating Incentives (RHI) dramatically – by 25% in July 2015- for biomass, at a time when the country is under considerable pressure to meet its 2020 renewable energy targets. 

“With less than five years to meet targets large scale renewable energy requires significant capital and years of planning, which is beyond the scope of most British businesses that would like to reduce their carbon footprint.

“Long-term, UK businesses will still be required to reduce their carbon emissions, and even with reduced incentives, biomass remains the most compatible renewable energy source for decentralised heat and power solutions. We believe that the relative ease and low cost of installing the E3, and its ability to provide baseload power will ensure the future of biomass as an alternative energy.”   

A spokesman for the Renewable Energy Association – of which Entrade is a member – said: “Biomass has made a significant contribution towards meeting the UK’s renewable heat targets but at only 3% in total in 2013 there is still work to be done before meeting the 12% renewable heat target for 2020. 

“We expect to see biomass continue to make up a large proportion of the UK’s renewable energy mix especially with the emergence of new innovative technologies.”

Meanwhile, Entrade is seeking £10 million in equity capital to scale its manufacturing capabilities to meet rising demand ahead of a flotation on the New York stock exchange later this year.

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