As local authorities and the private sector seek solutions to waste disposal needs, the development, construction and operation of waste-to-energy and biomass incineration plants is increasing. Bob Lane, from Siemens Industry Automation & Drive Technologies, believes waste-to-energy and biomass plant owners and operators should consider a more ‘joined-up’ strategy to emissions monitoring to help minimise risk, increase ­operational efficiency and aid compliance with mounting legislations

The appetite for waste-to-energy and biomass incineration plants is increasing, as solutions to society’s waste disposal needs can no longer rely upon landfill. At any one time there can be upwards of 200 such projects at various stages of planning, construction or commission across the UK – and it is a number set to increase.

As we know, the owner/operators of such proposed sites are required to comply with a number of tough legislative requirements to fulfil their legal responsibilities – and this places great onus upon the control, pollutant monitoring and reporting systems employed at the plants to satisfy bodies charged with overseeing the operational and environmental impact of the sector.

Any business generating power from fossil fuels or the incineration of waste is mandated to monitor the gas emissions being produced, as well as prove to organisations, such as the Environment Agency, that emissions do not exceed the accepted thresholds.  They also have to consider the need for plants to meet the specific requirements (dependent on the process) of three significant pieces of existing pan-European legislation (to be replaced in 2013 by the Industrial Emissions Directive – 2010/75/EU) – the Waste Incineration Directive, the Large Combustion Plant Directive and the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) Directive. It is with these overarching levels of legal responsibility in mind that all plant operators need to ensure they are continually meeting both their operational and legal objectives.

As well as seeking improvements in their operational efficiency capabilities, I believe plant owners/operators need to start considering a more ‘joined-up’ approach to their key systems. Such a strategy will not only simplify the existing disparate and separate structure of control, gas emissions monitoring and reporting procedures – but can also, as a result of such decisions, drive benefits in key areas such as minimising business risk of non-compliance in emissions and reporting objectives, as well as supporting streamlined and predictive plant maintenance programmes.

The traditional structure adopted by the industry to date has been to utilise three separate systems. First, plant wide distributed process control systems oversee the operation of the plant. Second, the Continuous Emissions Monitoring system (CEMS) measures the polluting gases produced by the plant and is configured to satisfy specific European legislation according to the types of gases produced. Finally, the reporting system endeavours to take the information from the CEMS system and turn operational data into meaningful reporting collateral for bodies.

Integrated systems

The benefits of an integrated systems approach are clear. Operators will have a single system, offering increased operational efficiency performance characteristics through easier maintenance strategies and greater visibility. This, by association, delivers real and tangible business risk reduction in the key areas of emissions monitoring and reporting.

As everyone in the industry acknowledges, all owners/operators of waste-to-energy and biomass plants already have to employ MCERTS compliant gas analyser technology as part of the monitoring process. MCERTS approved reporting could well become compulsory in the future. The inherent advantages of a single hardware and software system should be seriously considered.

Siemens solution – first of its kind

At Siemens we have spent two years researching and developing the CEM System Manager (CSM). It is the first integrated process control and emissions monitoring solution of its kind, which combines the three systems control, exhaust gas emissions monitoring and reporting to ensure ultimate efficiency. This single, integrated platform is currently undergoing MCERTS accreditation.

In addition to the CEM System Manager, we have further enhanced our offering by securing a contract with Gasmet Technologies Oy to incorporate its FTIR (Fourier Transform Infra Red) gas analyser as part of the CEM system solutions package.

In an economic environment where operators face ongoing challenges to meet targets, increasing operational efficiency and reducing business risk is essential. Integrating emissions monitoring therefore, provides plants with an end-to-end solution. Integration is at the heart of our holistic approach, helping industry drive value and efficiency forward – the waste to energy sector is no exception to this.

Siemens Industry Automation & Drive Technologies

T: 0845 7705070