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Aston to shape the future of bioenergy projects

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A business blueprint for bioenergy is being developed by Aston University through an innovative partnership with a leading renewable energy developer.

Academics and researchers at Aston Business School and Aston School of Engineering & Applied Science, are collaborating with Enco Energy Ltd and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) to create a complete risk management tool for bioenergy project development. This blueprint is designed to ensure any new biomass schemes have a rigorous business model in place to ensure continued success for renewable energy schemes in the UK.

Enco Energy Ltd. is a developer and owner of small-scale biomass combined heat and power (bCHP) schemes in the UK. Formed in 2007 to exploit the extensive opportunities in bCHP generation, the Norfolk based company’s unique business model and extensive experience in the industry has given them a strong foothold in this rapidly growing sector.

The risk management model, which is being developed by Aston PhD student Daniel Wright, uniquely utilises a ‘fuzzy logic’ approach to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of analysing and managing the risk inherent in potential bioenergy projects. This process involves a detailed understanding of a potential project’s viability and risk exposure throughout its lifetime, to greatly reduce predevelopment time and continued and future costs. The model is also tailored specifically to bCHP schemes and incorporates project stakeholder expertise to analyse potential technological, economic, social, and environmental risks. The project draws on expertise from both Dr Prasanta Dey of Aston Business School and Dr John Brammer of the School of Engineering & Applied Science.

Dr Prasanta Dey, principle investigator of the project, said: “The multiple criteria-based decision support system, will identify risk events, analyse their effect and help make decisions in every stage of project with the involvement of concerned stakeholders. This would be a completely new application of fuzzy multi criteria decision-making tools in the bioenergy industry. It is an approach which I believe fosters the best possible opportunity of business success for the developer.”

He added; “Aston Business School’s partnership with Enco emphasises the benefits of interdisciplinary collaboration and knowledge sharing to excel performance and leadership in both academia and industry. It is hoped that this pioneering research project is the first of many with Enco and the vitally important bioenergy sector.”

Enco Energy Ltd. has been instrumental in developing the risk management model alongside Aston Business School and although the model is currently in the design stage, the benefits are already becoming apparent. Enco’s Chief Operations Officer, Phil Hunt  said; “The research and work in progress will give Enco a strong competitive advantage in the field of biomass energy system deployment.”

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