After the first positive results of a field test, GasTerra wants to test fuel cells on a somewhat wider scale and in various built environments. This form of micro-CHP is capable of converting natural gas into electricity with a very high efficiency. Until mid-2014, the Kiwa (gas) research institute in Apeldoorn will carry out research commissioned by GasTerra into this type of fuel cell. The aim of the research is to determine which fuel cells are best suited to be placed in Dutch built environments. Fuel cells are being sent to Apeldoorn from all over the world and adapted there for use with gas from the Groningen Gas Field. The fuel cells will then be tested for efficiency and emissions. If the fuel cell seems to be suitable for use in Dutch homes, then the cell will be subjected to longevity trials. If these trials prove positive, then a practical test in a home will follow.
In 2013, preparations were made, in cooperation with transmission system operator Alliander, to put ten fuel cells into homes in Heerhugowaard in early 2014. For this project, in which the fuel cells are linked to the output of solar panels, experiments were carried out in the EnTranCe 'energy testing ground' of the Energy Academy Europe with new 'stacks', with which the fuel cell can react (be balanced) in response to the varying electricity demand. In Heerhugowaard, the balancing of the electricity demand will take place in the homes. In 2013, a start was also made to the roll-out of 45 fuel cells on Ameland. These fuel cells are linked to the power grid, to which a solar farm is also connected. In contrast to the project in Heerhugowaard, the balancing with the fuel cells here takes place on a sort of neighbourhood level. The project on Ameland started in the last quarter of 2013.
High-efficiency eco boiler on green gas
The province of Gelderland announced in late 2012 that it was providing a subsidy of €10 million for 10,000 high-efficiency eco boilers that are fed with green gas. The province asked GasTerra at the time to join in thinking of the process of subsidising high-efficiency eco boilers. GasTerra introduced the possibility of using green gas for that part of the gas consumption of the high-efficiency eco boiler which is responsible for the production of electricity. This involves an average additional gas consumption of approximately 200 m3 per annum, with which an annual electricity production of 2,000 KWh is achieved. In early 2014, the subsidy for the high-efficiency eco boiler will become available. GasTerra will procure green gas for this project and assign the corresponding certificates to the amount of green gas needed for the high-efficiency eco boilers, for a period of ten years. In total, through the contribution of GasTerra, the high-efficiency eco boilers will be supplying around 200 GWh of renewable electricity.
Participation in GGNL (Green Gas Netherlands Foundation)
GasTerra is one of the 'founding fathers' of Stichting Groen Gas Nederland (GGNL), the Green Gas Netherlands Foundation. GGNL is an independent national foundation dedicated to accelerating the development of the green gas market and to increase the production of green gas. To this end, the foundation cooperates with various partners, such as farmers, the waste sector, the food, drinks and tobacco industry, energy companies, transmission system operators, project developers, banks and public authorities. In 2013, as in previous years, GGNL has dedicated itself to removing bottlenecks in the green gas market.
Application of CHP on a (steam) boiler
The Dutch company Innecs has developed a gas turbine module, called PowerBurner, which can be placed on an existing (steam) boiler so that a boiler can be converted into a cogeneration plant. GasTerra is supporting the development of this PowerBurner. In 2013, the development was continued successfully. The hunt is now on for the opportunity to test the PowerBurner in practice. The PowerBurner by Innecs increases the chances of growth of Dutch cogeneration facilities; specifically, the system is considerably more compact and cheaper than the existing cogeneration systems with similar power output.
Research into compact combustion engine
In Japan, a combustion engine has been developed that is optimised for natural gas and because of its structure is particularly low-noise and vibration-free. This makes the engine suitable for placement as micro-CHP inside a home. The engine can be applied as a so-called 'add-on' unit as a micro-CHP in an existing heating system. GasTerra has obtained a patent on the integration (in terms of hydraulics and control engineering) of a micro-CHP in a heating system. After the engine has obtained CE marking, it will be tested for further research before a small field test, possibly in early 2015, is set up.
Roadside verge cuttings for green gas
Through the Green Gas Netherlands Foundation, GasTerra is involved in the development, demonstration and promotion of the use of green gass. In cooperation with Energy Valley and the research and consulting firm Proces Groningen, in 2012, GasTerra conducted research into the fermentation potential for verge cuttings. It turns out that verge cuttings are ideal to serve as biomass for the production of green gas. In cooperation with Proces, in 2013, a follow-up study was started at EnTranCe. For this purpose, a small fermenter was placed at EnTranCe. In early 2014, a larger fermenter will be standing at EnTranCe.
GasTerra wishes to gain insight into the potential for using gas to balance the electricity network. GasTerra is therefore cooperating in the iBalance and Flexinet projects by making fuel cells and expertise available. Both projects should increase the further development of knowledge about making the energy infrastructure more flexible and sustainable. At EnTranCe, in 2013, the necessary experiments were conducted with eight fuel cells, specifically to gain insight into the reaction speed of these cells. In addition, tests are being done with storing the heat released when fuel cells are used.
Gas and sun
The role of natural gas in new housing neighbourhoods is under pressure. With some regularity, new neighbourhoods are being built without gas infrastructure. One of the reasons for the construction of these so-called 'all-electric' neighbourhoods is the future tightening of requirements for new construction. Homes with high-efficiency combi-boilers would not be able to meet these requirements. Research commissioned by Gasunie, Shell and GasTerra was carried out into the role of gas in further reduction of the Energy Performance Coefficient (EPC). The current EPC for new construction is 0.6. It is expected that by 2020, the EPC will be 0.0. The research indicated that a high-efficiency combi-boiler in combination with both a solar boiler and photovoltaic panels provides a robust solution for homes with an EPC of 0.0. At EnTranCe, in cooperation with the company Grunneger Power, a testing facility was set up in 2013, where the combination of a solar boiler system and a high-efficiency combi-boiler is currently being tested and further optimised.