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Teagasc Biomass Combined Heat and Power Plant

A new biomass Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant is on display at the Teagasc Energy Crops Open Day taking place at Oak Park, Carlow today, Thursday, 23 June. 

Electricity generation from any feedstock typically converts 30-40% of the energy in the fuel into electricity with the balance of the fuel energy being released as heat into the atmosphere. Teagasc Bioenergy researcher John Finnan said:;” Combined heat and power offers the advantage of electricity generation combined with utilisation of the ‘waste’ heat. CHP plants fuelled by fossil fuels are available in a range of sizes from quite small plants which might be used in hospitals to large industrial plants.”

Until recently, CHP plants fired from biomass have only been available in large sizes (>2MW of electricity). However, small scale biomass CHP plants have started to become available commercially in more recent years.

The biomass CHP plant at Teagasc Oak Park is an example of a small scale plant that has recently become available. The plant is designed and manufactured in Denmark by the Stirling Denmark company. The plant uses wood chips as a fuel. The wood chips are gasified (ie turned into a gas) in the first step in the process. The gas is then conducted into a gas boiler where it is burned to generate heat. Heat generated in the boiler is used to heat hot water but the heat is also conducted via heat exchangers into an external combustion engine called a Stirling engine where the heat is used to turn the engine and generate electricity.

The plant which was funded under the Teagasc Vision Fund Programme was commissioned during the early part of 2011, and is on display for all interested in the Bioenergy sector at today’s Open Day in Oak Park.