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Biomass Power & Thermal: Adding Biomass to the Mix


Alex Woodward and the rest of the team at Natural Power, a U.K.-based renewable energy consulting firm, built their business on wind power projects, not biomass.

But in 2010, the consulting crew added biomass projects to its list of services. Woodward says the challenges in making biomass endeavors a success, including continual change in the feed-in tariff regime and investor nerves, are similar to those of other projects. “However, these projects bring significant benefits to clients and their communities,” he adds. “The general trend is that support in some way is available for these early adopters.”

The team recently signed on with three separate organizations in Scotland to provide a range of services for future biomass power and thermal projects. In Glasgow, it will provide technical and project management services for a brewery waste anaerobic digestion system. In Aberdeenshire, Natural Power will do the same for an ice cream manufacturer, and in Dumfries, the team will develop another AD system for a dairy farm at Barony College.

Woodward says Natural Power has been able to land contracts such as the brewery or ice cream manufacturing facilities because of its reputation in the wind industry. It has specialized in helping rural communities and small developers produce between 15 kilowatts and 5,000 kW from wind. “We have benefited from our reputation for delivering a realistic consultancy,” he says. “Many clients have heard of us in the wind sector and now trust us to develop bioenergy projects.” Woodward adds that the company tries to engage new customers at every level, from meetings at trade associate events, to more targeted marketing approaches.

“As we grow our business in line with the rapidly expanding biomass market, these significant contract wins are a testament to the high level of technical expertise Natural Power can bring to clients,” says Dan Gates, senior manager of biomass services for Natural Power. He adds that once developed, the projects will be a great demonstration of the significant benefits that biomass and on-site heat and power generation can bring to communities and local businesses throughout the U.K.