From feasibility studies and design to biomass remediation and biomass expert witness services, Locogen’s biomass practice helps clients get the most from their biomass heating systems.

Why biomass boilers? A short overview

The Renewable Heat Incentive was legislated for in the Energy Act of 2008 and first introduced in November 2011. It included tariffs to support a range of renewable heat technologies but the larger tariffs set for biomass boilers meant that the vast majority of installations were for biomass systems. This situation continued until May 2014, when the tariffs were realigned to better support other technologies.

Biomass boilers were seen by many as a relatively simple install, with familiar-looking technology that could be integrated into existing heating systems. The returns from RHI payments and (in theory at least) cheap biomass fuel looked especially attractive and these factors accelerated the deployment of a large number of biomass systems.

There was also a ‘goldrush’ mentality, not helped by quarterly reviews of tariffs, which regularly saw ‘degressions’ resulting in reduced rates. As these new tariff rates are then locked in for 20 years, this has a significant impact on financial returns and there was considerable pressure to have systems registered before any reduction took place.

It must be said, too, that the promise of easy installs and great returns brought many firms into the sector that, perhaps, did not have the experience and expertise to guarantee a successful installation. Many of these firms have since ceased trading, which has left numerous owners and operators without support for underperforming systems. we are often retained to help these clients by offering biomass remediation and biomass expert witness services.

Biomass boiler issues

The fact is that successfully designing biomass heating systems is far more complicated than some installers led clients to believe in those Klondike days.

In many cases, simple factors, such as the absence of thermal stores, oversized boilers and incorrect flue design can harm performance. Such faults are relatively straightforward to identify but in other cases the cause of problems may be the delivery, storage or extraction of the biomass fuel, or the hydronic integration of the boiler into an existing fossil fuel heating system.

There are a lot of factors to consider and careful examination of the boiler in situ is required to assess performance issues within a system-wide context. Our expert team offers industry-leading expertise and a range of services, from initial advice to remediation and biomass expert witness services, to cover all aspects of your biomass installation.  

David Linsley-Hood investigates a biomass installation

Our biomass services

Project development

  • Energy demand and resource assessments
  • Feasibility studies
  • Financial modelling, assistance arranging finance and Borrower’s TA role
  • Consenting services
  • Specification of the BOP contract works and management of the procurement of the BOP contractors
  • Review of the plant supply agreement, maintenance and service agreements
  • Project management of design and construction through to commissioning
  • Construction management
  • Grid connection applications, negotiations and agreements

Asset management

  • Fuel supply assessment and advise on energy purchase arrangements
  • Operational plant performance assessments
  • Management of Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) application process
  • Regulatory compliance assessments
  • Medium Combustion Plant Directive (MCPD) compliance assessment
  • Review of the maintenance and service agreements
  • Arrangement and co-ordination of service and maintenance activities
  • Contract management
  • Administrative support
  • Finance service
  • SPV management service

End of life

  • Repowering assessment / end of life planning
  • Boiler replacement
  • Decommissioning

Advisory services

  • Client engineer / TA
  • Troubleshooting
  • Biomass boiler remediation
  • Biomass expert witness

Locogen has successfully project managed the construction of renewable energy projects over the past 5 years, totalling over 300MW of installed capacity. In addition to the delivery of projects, Locogen is contracted to provide asset management services, monitoring and servicing to operational renewable energy projects across Scotland.

The above experience means that Locogen is well placed to provide pre-construction and operational TA services to non-recourse lenders and those looking to acquire/sell consented and operational assets. To date Locogen has completed the role of Lender’s TA on over a number of pre-construction and operational renewable energy projects for a number of non-recourse lenders including;

  • Close Brothers
  • Clydesdale
  • Triodos
  • Deutsche Bank (via the European Energy Efficiency Fund, or EEEF)

Locogen has also completed Buyer’s pre-construction and operational TA services for multiple private equity clients.

Full life-cycle experience

Locogen’s experience in full life-cycle project development for our consultancy clients and partners makes the company ideally suited to providing technical and commercial advisory services. Our clients for these services typically include:

1. Owner / operators – Locogen has provided technical due diligence and client engineering support to a number of large operational biomass and district heating projects in resolution of technical and performance issues. Services have included remediation of biomass installations and biomass expert witness support.

2. Developers – Locogen has acted as Client’s engineers through the due diligence and construction process, working on behalf of private companies/individuals and community organisations to deliver projects.

3. Lenders – Locogen is on the Technical Advisory panels for Close Brothers and Clydesdale Bank and have also completed Lenders TA works on behalf of Santander, RM Capital and Deutsche Bank (on behalf of EEEF).

4. Investors – Locogen has provided detailed technology reviews for organisations looking to invest into an area of opportunity.

Case Studies: design, management, renovation and biomass remediation and biomass expert witness projects

• 6.5MW biomass boiler district heating (Client engineer, biomass remediation) – Locogen is currently acting as the client engineer for the fault analysis and technical support in relation to the failure of a 6.5MW wood chip biomass energy centre, feeding a district heating network. This includes undertaking a detailed fault path analysis to identify the cause of the system failure and supervising the repair process to put the installation back into operation.

• 2 x 1.6MW biomass steam boiler (Client engineer, biomass remediation) – Locogen is currently working as the client engineer for an NHS board in relation to their pellet fuelled biomass energy centre. The boiler plant suffered an explosion and requires a detailed and robust plan to return the plant to operation. This process is being managed by Locogen and includes: confirming the explosion mechanism and ensuring appropriate modifications are implemented to prevent recurrence; review and implementation of the HSE investigation requirements and the HAZOP process; working with subcontractors to undertake the required repair and testing work; and, providing and verifying the training and documentation required to ensure the plant can be operated safely in the future.

• 3.2MW biomass steam boiler with backpressure turbine (Contractor) – Our team members have worked as the designer and project manager for the development and delivery of the energy centre refurbishment at a Scottish NHS Hospital. The project required the careful staging of boiler-house works to ensure the hospital remained operational throughout the twelve-month project development period and required the complete refurbishment of the steam district heating headers, replacement of 10MW of steam raising plant (including 3.2MW of wood chip biomass plant) and completion of the first backpressure steam RHI and ROC application.

• 1MW Biomass steam boiler (Contractor) – In order to ensure the effective delivery of a complex project requiring matching variable distillery process loads, our team members managed the design and installation of a 1MW wood chip biomass steam installation located at a remote Scottish site. This required complex logistical arrangements to allow for the supply and installation of the plant in an area of restricted access and unique local sensitivities.

• Small Scale Biomass CHP (Researcher) – Understanding the long-term trends in a technology is key to our experience and provides valuable insight to our clients. Our team members have been involved in a ten-year research project into the viability of small-scale (sub 2MWe) biomass CHP plant in the UK. This has involved technical reviews of operational plant, detailed analysis of technology types and business model viability, and interviews of key developers and operators.

• Small scale biomass gasification and CHP technical due diligence (Client engineer) – Our team acted as the client engineer for a private equity investment into a biomass gasification and CHP technology company. This included technical review of the biomass gasification technology and a commercial review of the market opportunity.

• 1.5MW biomass district heating network (Consultant) – Our team members have been involved in the assessment of the long-term operational performance of a 1.5MW wood chip biomass plant supplying heat to a University campus. This included a review and proposal for optimising the existing ESCo heat supply arrangement.

• 850kW Biomass District Heating network (Consultant) - Locogen has been involved in the technical assessment of the operational performance of an 850kW wood chip biomass plant supplying heat to an NHS secure facility. This project was instigated to resolve a dispute between the heat supply contract provider and client in respect to metering and fuel supply.

• 1.5MW biomass steam boiler (Consultant) – Locogen designed, procured and project managed the construction of a 1.5MW biomass steam boiler at an NHS board, including the construction of an underground wood fuel bunker and integration of the biomass steam system into the existing energy infrastructure at the site.

• 850kW biomass ESCo project (Consultant) – Our team were involved in one of the first biomass ESCo projects in Scotland at Lakeland Smolts near Cairndow. The biomass heating system is owned and operated by Mawera (UK), who sell the heat to Lakeland Smolts for their fish growing process. The wood fuel for the project is delivered by a local community owned wood chip business.

Key team members

David Linsley-Hood 

David Linsley-Hood - Head of Practice and Biomass Expert WitnessDavid is a Chartered Engineer and Environmentalist with over 10 years’ experience in renewable energy system design, project development, training and consultancy with a strong focus on delivering renewable heat projects. He has been involved with the design and installation of a number of large biomass schemes as a designer, contractor and a consultant, and has a detailed working knowledge of the technical and regulatory requirements for biomass installations. He has acted as a biomass expert witness on a number of installed biomass schemes in identification and resolution of design and performance issues. 

 

David Ferguson

David Ferguson - Senior Biomass EngineerDavid is a Chartered Mechanical Engineer with experience within industrial, commercial and residential building services sector. Expert in energy efficiency and onsite generation. Registered Professional Energy Consultant (RPEC) with the Energy Institute. Energy Savings Opportunities Scheme (ESOS) lead assessor. Experienced in project engineering and planned/predictive maintenance regimes. High level of data analysis skills in relation to energy, resource and machine monitoring.

 

Contact us for more information

Please contact us if you would like to talk to us about a new project or retain our team for biomass remediation or biomass expert witness services.