E.ON on-site generation expert, Stephen Newman, provided gasworld with an opinion piece on quad-generation following the recent shortage of CO2 which impacted food and beverage industries during the summer of 2018.
Newman explained how carbon is considered a dirty word in industry, often associated with global warming and air pollution. However, the incapacitating shortage of CO2 across the food and beverage industries has brought to light its prominence within society and has stimulated ideas amongst businesses, to generate and capture their own supplies.
Manufacturers have resorted to investigate the option of producing their own CO2; both to prevent future shortages and to increase wider business resilience. That can be done through an innovative energy solution called quad-generation where heat, power, cooling and CO2 capture are all delivered by one process.
As industry across Europe aims to become more sustainable, E.ON are beginning to help manufacturers look at ways they can make savings in their operational costs, lower their overall carbon emissions and become more resilient by generating their own CO2 through a process, yet to be utilised in the UK, called quad-generation.
Newman explained how this innovative energy solution adds a fourth benefit of CO2 extraction to the combined heat and power (CHP) and cooling plants (tri-generation) many organisations have already invested in and provides a solution to help prevent future CO2 shortages. Through this process CO2 is recovered from the plant exhaust gas and ‘scrubbed’ so it can be used in the industrial process by manufacturers to put the fizz into carbonated drinks, in packaging to keep food fresh, help the brewing fermentation process and to help plants grow in the horticultural industry.
E.ON works with organisations to help them become more resilient and self-sufficient, improving the efficiency of their energy use through co-generation.
“I’m already finding clients are thinking if they have a plant on site generating power, they know where it’s coming from and know they’re secure,” Newman explained.
While there are yet to be any quad-generation sites on the UK mainland, some businesses are now considering generating their own CO2 as well as heat and power, to help them become more self-sufficient.
As is often the case in business, where every penny needs to be accounted for, it’s possible quad-generation plants will be introdcued in Britain as early as next year.
“I see clients who are using more energy than they need to because they are running inefficiently and need to drive costs down. One such client was paying around £80 to £100 per tonne of CO2 before the CO2 crunch, which shot prices up to £2,000 a tonne. That kind of maths will get the attention of a finance director or a CEO pretty urgently,” Newman continued.
This technology can be run just off a boiler generating heat and a primary fuel source to generate the CO2 but with the right infrastructure investment, operating costs will be reduced, and capital expenditure can be offset.
”The exposure of the CO2 infrastructure earlier this summer has made businesses think beyond the supply of CO2, it has made people think ‘what would happen if I lost my power? What would happen if I lost my data?’ This is where people start to really think how secure is their business.”
“If a company decides it wants to take the co-generation opportunity, they don’t have to wait for the next supply chain crisis. They could have CHP, tri- or quad-generation operating by next summer. Depending on their agility, I’m sure there will be businesses saying ‘yes, let’s make our own luck.’” Newman concluded.