GasTerra and its partners are working very hard on reshaping our energy supply on Ameland. The parties involved aim to bring the island to energy transition twenty years earlier than the rest of the country. GasTerra has a clear role in this by increasing the use of green gas on the island. The principle is for this gas to be generated from local waste and waste water in a variety of ways.
Artist impression of the AHPD-installation on Ameland (source: Studio Wederzijds)
High-pressure fermentation technology developed by the small business Bareau is one interesting option. The high pressure means that the composition of the gas leaving the reactor is such that the gas can be fed into the gas grid without any problems. Furthermore, the addition of hydrogen allows CO2 to be converted into extra methane, and as a result the gas yield from various waste streams can be increased significantly. This is an interesting option for the island of Ameland. In future, solar PV capacity will be enlarged to such an extent that the system will regularly produce more energy than is required. If this stream can be converted into hydrogen and then into methane in the AHPD¹ reactor, it will then be possible to use the gas grid to balance supply and demand.
From theory to practice
That’s enough about the theory. Ameland is going to find out in practice how we can shape the energy transition. An initial investigation showed that this green gas production technique on the scale of the island is far from profitable. Not only are the waste streams on the island relatively small, but they also fluctuate sharply because of tourism. This means that a relatively large installation has to be built for a limited green gas production of around 150,000 m3 a year. Moreover, gas production will eventually be upscaled further. One way of doing this is to add sustainably produced hydrogen and carbon dioxide from external sources in the reactor to achieve ‘power to gas’.
Despite the high costs, an initial investigation showed that the knowledge obtained on a small scale enables upscaling to a larger installation with an acceptable payback period. Consequently, this option should remain within the ambition to make the island an energy role model for the rest of the Netherlands. With the support of GasTerra, a consortium including companies such as Terberg Control Systems, OTS, the engineering firm Sweco and Bareau is consequently devising a more specific plan with a detailed technical design and a detailed budget.
A number of key measures have already been taken. A location has been found: the installation will be built close to the sewage farm. The Fryslân water board has been approached and is constructively involved in the development of the project. Ameland local council and other local stakeholders are actively engaged and thanks to their positive attitude may play a key role in the eventual completion of the project. Serious talks are taking place with financiers and banks, and the option of receiving a subsidy from the Wadden fund is being looked into. Hopes are therefore high that a final investment decision can be made shortly after 1 January 2018 on the basis of the definitive design produced by this consortium.
 AHPD = Autogenerative High Pressure Digestion, a high-pressure digestor in which, in a low-oxygen environment, bacteria convert biomass into various substances including methane, the most important component in natural gas.