Advanced technology from Biomass Engineering Limited has been used to set up the company’s first commercial biomass gasifier. The showcase plant, at Mossborough Hall, Merseyside, is on a mixed-use farm with a green waste licence and will be used to save money by gasifying chipped logs and clean waste wood into a usable energy source.

The technology can, however, be used for many different wastes including leather, food processing wastes, refuse derived bio-fuels, most forms of wood, energy crops, miscanthus/straw/husks, animal by-products, and mammalian bone meal.

Will Heyes, who owns Mossborough Hall, comments: ‘It’s an excellent, hassle-free way to diversify while contributing to a better environment. I estimate I’ll save approximately 750 tonnes of carbon dioxide from going into the atmosphere and, what’s more, I shall be seeing a return on my investment within three to five years.’

The 250kwe plant is visually unobtrusive and takes up a mere 10 x 15m area with a height of 4m. It is designed to operate unmanned with remote monitoring. The hopper needs to be filled approximately every 6-8 hours. This period can be extended to suit individual needs. Whilst running, the plant continually maximises revenues and can easily be shut down and restarted almost immediately.

This is an ideal solution to the waste problem on many environmental counts. The gasifier operates on low pressures so is an inherently safe process. It has very low emissions and has the support of the Environmental Agency. It uses no fossil fuels or water. The process is very quiet with the only noise being that of a low hum of the generator.

Combined heat and power (CHP) is available from the plant which can be used to process heat, wood drying or space heating. The gasifiers range from 150kwe to 2mwe. The technology works particularly well in modular form and the larger gasifiers are made up from units of 250kwe.

Heyes is selling his excess electricity to Green Energy UK plc, a renewable energy supplier with which Biomass Engineering has teamed up. Biomass Engineering plan to expand substantially in the UK and hope to put considerably more business Green Energy UK’s way.

Graham Shaw, chief executive of Biomass Engineering, says he selected Green Energy because the fit was good. ‘When we started looking at this project and researched the energy market, we knew the working relationship with the energy company was going to be key. Green Energy UK have the appetite for the partnership and a good reputation in the market.’

Green Energy, who use wholly British sources of energy, are a young company with a radical business model. They are giving away half of their business in shares – the first 100,000 customers are getting 400 shares each.

This not only gives them a potential stake in the future but involves them in the business and their successes. They are also ploughing back 50% of the profits into developing renewable energy technologies, such as tidal generation, solar power, small-scale hydro, biomass facilities and wind farms.

‘The EU has just this week announced a biomass action plan for the end of this year with increased use of this resource’, says Ramsay Dunning, finance director of Green Energy UK. ‘There is an excellent market for this advanced technology, which we believe will grow significantly.’