The circular future has already begun in Cuijk
Permits for Energy Hub are also tailor-made
Permits for Energy Hub are also tailor-made
  • © 2023 BECC BV 0

Permits for Energy Hub are also tailor-made

No cutting corners to get the project off the ground quickly, the expansion of the BECC biomass plant into Energy Hub Cuijk had to comply with all standards, values, and regulations. Project leader Guus Bengsch: "This location is under a magnifying glass, but it went pretty smoothly."

Confusion lurks when the paperwork around storage systems in the energy market is discussed. Bengsch, a forerunner on the Dutch market with Green Energy Storage: "First of all, the question is which regulations exactly apply. I often do projects like this, but at the moment, most civil servants from environmental services have no experience with it. It is a challenge to read and interpret rules properly."

Existing rules are not yet tailored to the new techniques and possibilities, so a national government and industry working group is working on new standards. "Can you already use them, even if they are still in draft? No, because then you are not in compliance with the applicable legislation, and serious discussions are still going on about parts of that new standard."

Bengsch also refers to the permit work as a journey of discovery that he takes with the competent authority through regulations that do not exactly match the shared objective. "And I greatly respect the officials who walk this path to determine how everything works. At the end of that path, it's actually relatively simple. We do not produce kilometers of paper once we submit the application."

Filing leads to excitement

Nevertheless, several discussions were necessary with the environmental service responsible for the various permits. Strict safety regulations and environmental requirements apply. Fire safety must also be guaranteed. Adding a battery meant renewed attention to the entire installation. "Because it's all new, we had to get our affairs in order. And, of course, sometimes things got a bit intense, but I know the permit granting authority cannot run any risks. Industrial sites are under the magnifying glass in the Netherlands. You don't want the whole world criticizing you. The people from the environmental service did a good job."

BECC was also an exceptional project because the battery was linked to an existing biomass plant. Most battery storage in the Dutch energy market revolves around solar panels or wind farms. The owner realizes that retaining the electricity produced for a while can be advantageous, depending on market prices. "Solar parks and wind farms are newer and use more standardized materials. At BECC, everything is custom-made. The human factor has therefore been much more important in this project."
With all the protocols, software, computers, pumps, valves, and more, you have to be sure that everything works exactly right.
Julian Croker, Technical Project Manager Team Lead at Spectral

Paperwork and Hazardous Materials

Even if it is clear which rules apply, the expansion must still comply with them to receive the green light from the environmental service. Hans Roelofsen of All4data, a biochemist with experience as a licensing officer, assisted BECC in this phase of the process. In addition to the issues related to hazardous substances and the translation of all kinds of paperwork, this also involved constructional issues.

Roelofsen: "You may not expect it, but to be able to set up the e-boiler, reinforcement of the bottom was necessary. Digging deep to lay a foundation was not an option because it may be a valuable archaeological soil archive. Fortunately, we could suffice with an exploratory study, and the reinforcement was possible without extensive excavation work."
The paperwork for the Alfen battery containing Chinese parts was more difficult. "Thanks to the experience with electric cars, much is now known about the risks of battery packs. Such Nickel-Ion batteries can ignite, and then the fire accelerates itself. After an unquenchable fire from such a car in a parking garage, the government apparatus is on edge. From design to commissioning, everything around batteries is scrutinized."

All4data pointed to a series of guarantees and provisions incorporated into the design for the BECC battery. Roelofsen: "In the event of a calamity, the installation is designed to prevent a fire to expand. Everything is divided into small compartments, and the whole is equipped with firewalls. It is also important that Alfen's batteries deviate from the traditional design. The fire-accelerating properties have been reduced. The system, therefore, fully complies with the regulations."

And what about the water heater? Roelofsen: "It heats the water, so no hazardous substances are involved. And since the parties engaged have all the certifications, it quickly demonstrated that company safety is fully realized."

Behind all that paper lies the physical world of the exchange, the e-boiler, and the battery with their interplay of installations and software. Julian Croker, Technical Project Manager Team Lead at Spectral, therefore insists on adherence to accuracy and guarantees. Spectral supplied all software links and control, which required intensive contact with all manufacturers and suppliers. "With all the protocols, software, computers, pumps, valves, and more, you have to be sure that everything works exactly right, from the simplest cable to a measuring instrument to the control of a control valve. It's all about 100 percent reliability, making it a challenge."