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RR: Fuel cell could double biomass electricity generation potential

13 Apr 2012 19:49:05 | edem

Two companies involved in the energy-from-waste industry are to trial a technology that could more than double biomass fuel's generation potential.

AFC Energy, which provides alkaline fuel-cell technology for industrial applications, and energy-to-waste innovator Waste2Tricity hope to increase energy-from-waste sources' commercial viability by using fuel cells in electricity generation, W2T said.

AFC Energy describes a fuel cell as a device that produces electricity, heat and water by reacting a hydrogen-rich fuel with oxygen.

A W2T spokesman said the technology could overcome inefficiencies in biomass-fired generation by incinerating waste for energy, boosting generation from fuels such as biomass by 130%.

The technology could be given its first trial at Air Products' 49MW Tees Valley biomass-fulled plant, but negotiations to do so are not yet complete.

AFC Energy and Waste2Tricity boast that their tie-up has long-term potential to take energy-from-waste plants to a position alongside conventional combined cycle gas turbine facilities in generating power in the UK.

Projects potential

The technology could boost biomass projects in the UK if it realises its potential, among them several large biomass projects that have entered the latter stages of development, including the 290MW Heron renewable energy plant and the 80MW EnergyPark in Peterborough (see EDEM 14 October 2011).

However the biomass industry still lacks private-sector funding on the size of other renewable-energy sectors such as offshore wind power.

It is eyed by the government as increasing in importance as a means of hitting the UK's 2020 renewable-power generation targets.

The government hopes to oversee a five-fold increase in generation volumes from the sector through investment by its new Green Investment Bank (see separate story).

The developing biomass sector, meanwhile, hopes that significant state-backed expenditure through the bank will mitigate financial barriers and attract substantial private-sector investment. TF

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