Cofely District Energy is Europe’s leading provider of energy, technical and total facilities services. Across the UK and Ireland, its 2,200 employees deliver solutions at over 15,000 customer sites.
As part of this work, Cofely runs district energy schemes in major cities across the UK, including Birmingham, supplying heat to a large range of buildings. Cofely is constantly looking at ways to produce its energy supply more sustainably, using renewable, low carbon technologies, as current technology used is powered by fossil-fueled Combined Heat and Power (CHP) systems.
Cofely approached EBRI for help with technology development, and was able to receive free support through the funding EBRI had received from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), when they saw that EBRI was in the process of being able to incorporate new technology that could provide low carbon heat which could benefit the existing district energy scheme.
Although work is still at a planning stage, Cofely is exploring how EBRI’s Pyroformer™ technology can feed into the Birmingham scheme. They are confident that over the next couple of years future collaboration will be possible to ensure that more of their energy systems come from a renewable source – namely EBRI technology.
Following initial meetings with EBRI to determine how Pyroformer™ technology might be connected into the network, both parties have worked through a number of challenges, including how to link this technology via an optimised CHP into an existing district energy scheme for the supply of heat.
Ian Forsyth, Business Development Manager at Cofely, explains: “Gas Fired CHP engines currently supply low carbon heat into our networks. To meet government targets and to be able to supply our network, we are aiming for our energy supplies to move to renewable sources over the next few years, as technology evolves and matures. If we can link to the technology EBRI is developing this will be a huge benefit to us, as it will meet both the needs of government and also our customers, who are increasingly demanding alternative, sustainable forms of energy.”
The idea is that the Pyroformer™ will produce and supply biogas to a CHP engine, which will in turn supply heat and could be connected into the district energy scheme. This would reduce the need to buy in gas for fuel. This would potentially be a great way for Cofely to detach itself from the fossil fuel economy and generate its own low carbon energy.
“Collaborating with EBRI is a big selling point for us when it comes to prospective clients. It is great to be able say to future clients that we are working with EBRI to develop renewable, low carbon energy solutions, as the Institute is known for being at the leading edge of bioenergy technology development. This type of project is brand new for Cofely and we have never worked with a third party in this way before. The fact that we have been able to access free support from EBRI so easily has been key to enabling us to develop these plans. We are confident that if EBRI’s Pyroformer™ technology continues to evolve, it could be applied to district energy schemes almost anywhere.”
Ian Forsyth, Business Development Manager, Cofely District Energy