Back in March 2006, this website first brought news of a spin-off company called Stirling Danmark, which at the time was the only company in Europe, if not the world, developing CO2 neutral combined heat and power (CHP) plants based on biomass-fired Stirling engines.
Three years on, the company is still small but is making its presence felt in a big way. In July this year we reported that Stirling has been particularly successful at attracting investment cash – DKK 82.3m (USD 15.7m) this year alone – making it the fifth biggest raiser of capital in Europe's cleantech sector. Now Stirling has hit the headlines again, as the recipient of a prestigious award.
Business.dk reports that at Copenhagen's Bella Center, where the Nordic Climate Solutions conference is taking place, Stirling has won the Climate Cup awarded as part of the Royal Awards for Sustainability for outstanding work by a Danish company in the climate area.
Novo Nordisk director Lise Kingo, who chaired the panel of judges, told Business.dk: "Stirling has tremendous potential. Since 2006, when it started manufacturing environmentally friendly systems to produce electricity and heat, the firm has gone through rapid development and today is the most promising company in the Danish cleantech sector."
Stirling's director Lars Jagd sees things very much the same way, and reckons that the current workforce of 20 could expand to 500 in five years, with revenues at that time reaching the DKK 1bn mark (USD 195m).
Although Stirling is a new company brimming with new ideas, it is intriguing to note that the Stirling engine itself is far from new: it was invented almost 200 years ago by a Scottish clergyman. But it has certain characteristics that are well suited to today's increasingly energy-conscious world. For one thing, it is highly efficient – in theory it is the most thermodynamically efficient of all heat engines. And for another, it can theoretically run on any source of heat energy, biomass for instance, since the fuel is combusted outside the engine cylinders rather than inside them.
The systems being developed by Stirling are well suited for local CHP plants generating up to 1,000 kW in electrical output. Typically this could supply power and heat for up to 200 houses, or a large building like a school. Isolated communities that currently use diesel generators to produce electrical power are an obvious (and plentiful) target for Stirling's CHP systems since they can be customized to run on locally available biomass which otherwise may be thrown away, such as agricultural waste.