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BlueTerra Energy Experts:

"Use of CHP for biomass and green gas mainly at high lighting levels and CO2 requirement"

The important role that CHP plays in the filling in of Dutch energy demand comes under pressure now that a sustainable energy supply is required and alternatives are presenting themselves. Nevertheless, this does not necessarily mean the end of CHP. A CHP on sustainable fuel can play a smaller but crucial role in the energy system of the future. CHP on the basis of hydrogen, biomass and green gas will in 2050 mainly supply a considerable part of the industrial heat demand, but also be able and possibly have to deliver a part of the space heating. This is shown by a study by BlueTerra Energy Experts into a CO2-neutral energy supply in 2050 for industry, greenhouse horticulture and the built environment.

In the future energy system with a fluctuating supply of electricity from wind and sun, there is a great demand for adjustable power. Even if the renewable electricity production in 2050 exceeds the annual electricity demand considerably, the electricity demand may not be fully covered by wind and solar supply 25% of the time. Batteries and imports can only provide a limited part when the electricity demand exceeds the supply (long-term). At the same time, there are some heat demanders that are difficult to supply in a sustainable way. The demand for adjustable electrical capacity and this demand for sustainable heat offers opportunities for a profitable use of CHP on hydrogen, biomass and green gas in 2050.

Greenhouse horticulture has good possibilities for heating greenhouses by switching to geothermal energy, residual heat and electrification (heat pumps). The use of CHP on biomass and green gas only appears to be an option for cultivation with a high degree of lighting and a large demand for CO2. In the industry, the potential for heat from CHP appears to be the greatest despite an expected drop in the heat demand of 33% and the use of new sources such as geothermal, heat pumps and biomass.

Deployment sustainable CHP
In order to be able to provide stability to the sustainable electricity system and to benefit optimally from the fluctuating electricity prices, a CHP must be able to be used sustainably. Combinations with Power-to-Heat solutions and heat buffering in industry and the built environment are essential to balance the heat and electricity demand.

The required controllable electrical capacity can be filled in with stand-alone power plants or decentralized CHP applications. The market will then require that this capacity is realized as cost-effective as possible. As mentioned, CHP can have great benefits for the end user in specific cases. However, the added value of CHP does not only depend on the end user. By 2050 nearly 20% of the electricity demand has to come from flexible plants, then decentralized CHPs could save 100 PJ of fuel and save billions of euros in infrastructural costs. Regional coordination between various stakeholders is necessary to exploit these social benefits.

The availability and price of the hydrogen, biomass and green gas fuels for use in the CHP strongly depends on the demand for and added value of these fuels in other sectors. The domestic availability of biomass and the possibilities for hydrogen production via electrolysis seem far from sufficient to meet future demand. Imports of hydrogen and biomass and the production of blue hydrogen (hydrogen from natural gas in combination with CCS) will be necessary and these routes deserve attention in policy making towards a sustainable energy supply.

Read the report here in Dutch.

For more information:
BlueTerra Energy Experts
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