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Biomass boilers: using data analysis to boost performance

Plaine Commune Énergie, an ENGIE Réseaux subsidiary operating the second-largest district heating network in the Île-de-France region, has set out to make its energy production even more efficient and environmentally friendly. This multi-site, interconnected network has accordingly decided to install a new biomass heating system. But before that, Plaine Commune Énergie asked Blu.e to run an in-depth analysis of its first biomass boiler’s results with a view to optimising its performances.


SMIREC (Syndicat Mixte des Réseaux d’Énergie Calorifique), the public-private entity responsible for managing district heating networks, has tasked Plaine Commune Énergie with operating, developing and upgrading its heating network in the towns of Saint-Denis, L’Île-Saint-Denis, Pierrefitte-sur-Seine and Stains. In 2016, as part of its public service delegation duties, PCE made radical changes to the production centres and tools assigned to it to make the heating network more environmentally friendly. “After this transformation, which was carried out in record time, it was important for us to obtain maximum power from our heating systems”, said Bassir Sufyar, head of the Operations Department of the Plaine Commune Énergie heating network. “We therefore asked Blu.e to confirm our proposals for optimisation and identify the parameters likely to influence our heat generation performances, based on the results obtained by our first, 16 MW biomass boiler in Stains”.


A massive 6,000 data points analysed

The first step towards carrying out the analysis was to aggregate all of the heating network’s data into a single database that could be displayed in personalised interfaces. Because the boiler was instrumented and fitted with large numbers of sensors, the quantity of data was phenomenal. Fume temperature, air output, engine speed, valve opening… there was a mass of data and flows available in real time!


An opportunity to test the most efficient parameters

“In practical terms, the Blu.e tool makes it possible to assess the parameters that affect plant performances, based on an analysis of the data and data variance,” explained Bassir Sufyar. “The interface is user-friendly, simple and pleasant to use. It’s very visual: you can clearly see the indicators change as you vary the parameter settings. Which ones have to be optimised? Is it the quantity of wood burnt in the boiler, the secondary air injected or the oxygen level? We worked hand-in-hand with Blu.e to study the most relevant indicators”.


A 10% increase in performance!

After that, the team could investigate more minor adjustments. “Based on the recommendations, we worked with the manufacturer of our boilers to adjust the industrial processes”, said Bassir Sufyar. “Three months, from March to June 2017, were all it took to boost performance by about 10%, just by changing a few parameters! And we didn’t even have to invest in new machines”.

Today, on the brink of the 2017-2018 heating season, the Plaine Commune Énergie team will have to move up to the next level. “We are going to measure the biomass boiler’s power over the coming winter months”, said Bassir Sufyar. “After that, we are considering the possibility of conducting the same analysis for our other heating systems so that we can have a systemic energy picture of the heating network. The Blu.e solution is concrete, visual, easy to install and, most importantly, particularly efficient. We’ve seen it for ourselves”.


In figures


biomass and natural gas production and operating plants

16 MW

of power for the biomass heating system


homes supplied with heating and domestic hot water


data points analysed


increase in power right from the first months



About Plaine Commune Énergie

Plaine Commune Énergie is the company that holds the delegation of public service contract to supply heating to the towns of Saint-Denis, Stains, Pierrefitte and l’Île-Saint-Denis. It is a wholly-owned subsidiary of ENGIE Réseaux and an ENGIE Group company.


About ENGIE Réseaux, an ENGIE Group company

ENGIE Réseaux specializes in heating networks, leveraging its expertise in the production and local distribution of renewable and recovered energy. A subsidiary of ENGIE, ENGIE Réseaux designs, finances, builds and operates heating and cooling networks. As local authorities’ energy partner, it helps its customers successfully implement their energy transition by providing efficient solutions for renewable energy and energy efficiency. Nearly 50% of the energy distributed is renewable and locally sourced. ENGIE Réseaux manages 50 heating and cooling networks in France. It has 800 employees and generates revenue of €515 million.