Powerhouse Energy Group – Powered by Clean Energy
Powerhouse Energy is the creator, designer and developer of a sustainable technology to recover clean energy from plastic, battling the environmental challenge on several fronts.
While the waste-to-energy concept is not new, and one that is increasingly promoted throughout the world, technologies that enable this process smoothly, efficiently and ecologically, continue to be the subject of intensive development.
UK-based Powerhouse Energy Group Plc (AIM:PHE) has developed, and recently commercialised, a solution called DMG® Technology (Distributed Modular Generation) – a sustainable process to recover energy from plastic and other waste streams, through small-scale thermal conversion.
The outcome is an energy-rich clean syngas (synthetic gas, with similar energy to natural gas), which can be used directly as an industrial feedstock or to produce sustainable hydrogen and/or electrical power to power local communities or whole countries. Powerhouse license developers to deliver facilities that improve our environment for future generations.
Founded in 2007 to research the waste and combined heat and power (CHP) arenas, the company came to fully focus on plastics and hydrogen only in 2018. In 2019, its innovative and highly efficient thermal conversion technology was introduced, and it is due to be commercialised at Protos in North West England., becoming operational in 2023.
James Greenstreet, Non-Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors, says: “This past year has been transformative for the company, with Powerhouse becoming a fully-fledged operating business. Following the acquisition of Waste2Tricity Limited, allowing a clearer commercial model for customers and partners, we have significantly strengthened both the management and technical teams as well as our financial position. This has enabled us to further refine the technology and win business partners both in the UK and abroad.”
In November 2020 Powerhouse signed Heads of Terms with a view to granting Hydrogen Utopia International HUI) an exclusive non-transferable licence for the application of its DMG technology in Poland, to be followed by Hungary and Greece. This binding exclusivity agreement has recently been signed and illustrates both Powerhouse and HUI’s commitment to bringing this technology to Europe and kickstarting the clean energy transition on a global scale.
In the UK, the company has partnered with Peel NRE, part of Peel L&P, that will build the first application of the Powerhouse DMG® technology at Protos near Ellesmere Port in Cheshire.
The successful commissioning and operation of this plant is the step which, when accomplished, will open up a worldwide market for the DMG® technology. “The delivery of this first plant is being facilitated by advice from Ian Crockford whose former assignments include responsibility for project delivery at the 2012 Olympic Delivery Authority,” says James Greenstreet who has been on the board at Powerhouse for 10 years.
Powerhouse has also recently appointed the founder of the engineering consultancy, Engsolve Limited, Paul Emmitt as Chief Technology Officer. Emmitt has worked closely with Powerhouse’s technical team for the last four years, focused on the first project at Protos.
As Protos is delivered, stages of the operation will be gradually commissioned putting the plant steadily into full test and subsequently in full operation. One of the first such tests will be the TCC and syngas production, this will be earlier on the delivery schedule. Following this, the plant will produce power and finally hydrogen before the site is declared complete and operational in 2023.
The business model
He explains that DMG® Technology is significantly more efficient than incineration or combustion-type processes.
“The key feature of the business is that the technology is designed to handle all kinds of plastic waste. No selection or pre-treatment process is needed. Therefore, it would be easier to source the raw material. Operators of DMG® facilities accepting non-recyclable plastic diverted from incineration or landfill can expect to receive a gate fee, which – depending on different parts of the world – may be very high, in some cases providing as much a quarter of the total income from the plant operation.”
The second key feature is the company’s business model, he further explains. “We will be the technology licensor, we don’t want to own or operate the plants ourselves, we want to licence the use of our technology to those who do.”
The modular design of Powerhouse’s DMG® plant allows production to be scaled up rapidly once the operation of its first commercial scale plant provides proof of concept. Since most of the capital cost of deploying the technology will be borne by the company’s development partners and by the companies which are licensed to use the DMG® technology, it will be possible for very rapid growth to take place simultaneously in different markets without the need for additional resources to fund the expansion.
The right partner
Mr Greenstreet acknowledges that licensees may be of different kinds. In the UK, the company’s clients are likely to be companies that see the potential of hydrogen, specifically as a transport fuel, i.e. those who already operate petrol and diesel refuelling stations, and also local councils.
This an opportunity Peel NRE is set to exploit, with a view to deploying Powerhouse Energy’s technology for a facility at Rothesay Dock near Glasgow. A planning application is due to be submitted shortly with a decision expected in the Autumn. If approved, construction will take around two years to complete.
James Greenstreet says: “We are excited about this second UK site which will use our technology, playing an important role in making hydrogen a key element of Scotland’s decarbonisation strategy. All eyes are on Scotland ahead of the important COP26 meeting in Glasgow later this year, so we are delighted that our pioneering, clean-energy technology will help put Scotland on the path to net zero.”
He points out that while in the UK, it is hydrogen that offers the best financial return, elsewhere this may be heat or electricity. Powerhouse Energy’s solution is suitable for all these scenarios, as each DMG® plant will be designed and built for each customer’s specific application and site.
Outside the UK, Europe seems to be the obvious next step, with generous EU funds available to promote the waste-to-energy concept, as well as the transition from fossil fuels to greener energy sources. However, keen interest, particularly in the use of hydrogen as heavy-duty vehicle fuel, is being seen in Australia and Japan, says Mr Greenstreet, affirming that the company is investing in making the technology even more efficient and more profitable.
As the world moves towards net zero carbon, Powerhouse Energy can contribute both technology and expertise towards the resolution of the environmental impact that unrecyclable waste plastic is having across the planet.
“Powerhouse has made considerable progress and the foundations of a truly sustainable and prosperous future have been laid. With our technology we can address three of the world’s most pressing environmental problems – unrecyclable plastic waste, the urgent need for zero carbon energy and extending life expectancy for billions of urban dwellers by improving the air quality through switching to greener fuels. As such, the potential on a global scale is huge.”