The challenges of biogas production

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News article

The challenges of Biogas production

May 2012

renewable energy news

The plant construction is proceeding and you are getting close to commissioning your AD plant. What are the challenges lying ahead?

The plant commissioning and ramp up phases are very important to get the plant to start generating energy and income so you can start paying back the borrowings. Key items to check off on your project schedule are now;
 
1)  Have you got a final agreed test & commissioning schedule with your technology provider? This should include how the initial feedstock is going to be heated, the stage at which handover will take place and who will be training the operators?
 
2)  Remember that training should include Health & Safety and legislative compliance – if you haven’t already then your Health & Safety documents need to be in place and understood
 
3)  Do you have access to seed material from another plant to get yours started and are the quantities you need available when required?
 
4)  Will the CHP be tested, connected to the grid and with meters installed ready to generate when you have sufficient biogas to fuel it. If you are using a third party to supply and fit the CHP you need to ensure they can fit in with the schedule
 
5)  Are there systems in place to give you access to advice at short notice when problems arise?
 
6)  Is Ofgem registration and relevant permitting all under control? You may want to delegate these tasks elsewhere until you have the time and knowledge to pick them up.
 
Commissioning the plant has to be carefully managed to ramp up production without creating a biological breakdown. Close monitoring of the plant and attention to detail is particularly important at this stage. It is also a good opportunity to get to grips with the control and monitoring system and start to get a feel for the day to day practicalities.
 
Regular monitoring & recording of gas output, quality, engine performance etc will give you the data to benchmark performance on and pick up on early warning signs of problems to help. A daily routine schedule will help to get everyone involved into the systems required and ensure effective communication particularly for less automated plants. It will also help to avoid issues that could have been tackled with routine maintenance before they became a problem.
 
 The consistency and quality of feed stocks is clearly important to achieve optimum plant efficiency. Feedstock management, whether silage clamps or feed waste intakes, needs planning to reduce spoilage or adverse effects on the digesters biology. Ensure that your energy crop production plan gives a good buffer to cope with late harvesting and lower than anticipated yields. 
 
At least it will be a few months before digestate management has to be thought about in detail....
 
For further information, please contact David Kinnersley on 01295 226294 or email david.kinnersley@fishergerman.co.uk

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