Service Communautaire d'Information sur la Recherche et le Développement - CORDIS

Electricity production from biomass gasification systems

There are very few examples of gasification plants being used to generate electricity from biomass. By investigating the exploitation of such systems in different parts of Europe, using a variety of biomass feedstocks, this study has found several potential scenarios where it would be economically viable to generate electricity in this manner.

The main achievements from the study were the financial and economic evaluation of different biomass gasification systems in different capacity ranges. Systems based on pressurized gasification and gas turbine cycles were found to be economically feasible only in the range 30-40 MW. Small capacity gasifier/diesel engines (5-10 MW) achieved higher efficiencies than fluidized bed boilers/steam turbines. However, the high costs of drying the feedstock for a gasifier/diesel engine made this equipment prohibitively expensive. Where dry fuels can be used, the economics of this system improve considerably. Finally, a fixed-bed downdraft gasification system, in combination with an internal combustion engine, is technically feasible on a 'farm scale' (ie below 500 kW) as long as suitable low priced biomass fuels and cheap labour are available. The project found that the structure and logistics of Italian agriculture acted against large-scale gasification. However, a range of smaller power production plants (ie 500 kW to 15 MW) were feasible, although 'farm size' and small-scale projects were extremely sensitive to labour costs and capital costs respectively. Medium-scale applications showed robust feasibility over the whole applied sensitivity range. Finnish case studies concentrated on process evaluation and economic analysis of two district heating power plants using biomass as a fuel in a special gasification process (the IVOSDIG process). Although results showed that very high power to heat ratios could be obtained using IVOSDIG, the cost of producing electricity in this way was more expensive than the average.

Reported by

ENEL SpA
Via Andrea Pisano 120
56122 Pisa
Italy
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