Tim Broadhurst, Chief Commercial Officer at CooperOstlund, discusses why now is the perfect time for AD sites to optimise their operations. From increasing CHP engine efficiency to improving control capabilities, Tim explains how embracing the latest innovation can drive a significant uplift in returns.

Recent analysis from the National Non-Food Crops Centre (NNFCC) calculate that there are 486 anaerobic digestion (AD) plants in the UK, 338 of which are farm-based. With Feed in Tariffs (FiTs) and Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) subsidies running out, however, experts are encouraging farmers to consider efficient ways to optimise their operations. This will not only drive immediate revenue, but also future-proof their sites post-subsidies.

Perfect daily performance

Your engine needs daily checks, regular fluid top-ups, periodic servicing and replacement parts to appease general wear and tear. While it’s possible to action a number of these tasks yourself, there will always be some responsibilities that are best left to the experts – especially for certain functions made inaccessible by manufacturer restrictions.

Having a solution in place to manage the day-to-day operations and maintenance of your CHP is therefore paramount to its performance, efficiency and longevity. Whether that covers the entire servicing element or simply takes the more complex milestone requirements off your hands, working with an expert will ensure your site maximises performance and efficiency in the long-term.

To support this, you need a trusted supplier of spare parts, fluids and everything in-between. What’s more, you need fast response times, expert insight and a consultative approach.

Focus on increasing efficiencies

While your engine may be well maintained, it could still be performing well below its full potential. For example, equipment availability on reciprocating engines at a well-run CHP plant is typically in the 92 to 94 per cent range, whereas many plants in the industry are operating at levels in the 70 to 75 percent range. Alongside maintenance, there are numerous ways to optimise an older, lower-performing plant.

Electric Turbo Compounding (ETC) – ETC products make gas and diesel-powered gensets work more cleanly and effectively, by recovering waste energy from the exhaust to improve power density and fuel efficiency.

The technology is equally suited to new-build and retrofit applications, for engines in the 150kW-2MW range. By integrating ETC technology with your engines, it’s possible to achieve enhanced power generation capacity efficiencies.

Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) – ORC works by harnessing excess heat from your CHP engine and turning it into power. The units capture excess heat, using it in a process of evaporation. As a thermal oil is pumped through at high pressure it begins to boil and turns into gas. The gas flows through an expander, which causes a generator to spin and produce power. The gas is then cooled back into its liquid form to begin the process again.

Putting the power in your hands

Many sites are inadvertently hindered by manufacturer-restricted control systems. This not only limits CHP access and management, but also prevents site managers from collating live performance data across their engine fleet.

By replacing proprietary control systems with open protocol alternatives, your CHP engine can interoperate without the need for a proprietary interface or gateway. This allows engineers to easily control each setup without the need for specialist support and provides immediate digital access.

The added benefit of internet connectivity means engineers can even control engines from an off-site location, which further reduces costs and dramatically improves uptime.

At CooperOstlund, we understand that no two sites are the same, so approach every situation in a completely bespoke fashion – ensuring the utmost care and attention to deliver exceptional results.

Alongside providing an extensive range of maintenance programmes, we also offer a wide range of plant improvement technologies to guarantee the best possible return on investment for your site. From open-protocol control panels, to next-generation Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) systems, our capabilities stretch far beyond installing and commissioning gas engines.

Through an exclusive agreement with Bowman Power Group, for example, we offer a comprehensive range of Electric Turbo Compounding (ETC) products, achieving an average c.3% increase in output efficiency. Our consultants can even provide independent site audits, to provide external insight into the performance of your set-up, and advise a variety of improvement options, if required.

So, with the industry calling for sites to optimise their operations, now’s the perfect time to explore how you can make your CHP set-up perform over and above your expectations. Talk to the experts today!