Servizio Comunitario di Informazione in materia di Ricerca e Sviluppo - CORDIS

Biomass-based CHP plant in a redevelopment scheme

The project has provided an important insight into the financial constraints of using a gasification system in combination with a gas turbine to produce heat and power for a small urban redevelopment in Belgium. However, an investigation of potential biomass supplies and energy demands for such a site has shown that renewable energy resources can be employed in a district heating system, using a conventional wood furnace.

The study found that, during the winter, the combined heat and power (CHP) plant would need to produce a peak thermal output of 8 MW, and thus an electricity output of 2.5 MW. Within a distance of 20 km from the site, more than 50 % of the biomass fuel requirement to meet this output could be supplied by local forest residues and/or exploiting the potential for local energy plantations. Emissions of carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide would also be substantially reduced by a biomass-fired plant compared to a coal-fired plant. 2.5 MW of electricity is more than sufficient to meet the forecast power consumption at the site, so surplus electricity could be sold to Belgian power utilities. Unfortunately, the project determined that the costs of using biomass in a CHP of this sort would be 0.087 ECU/kWh for 6000 operating hours, against an average power production cost in Belgium of around 0.050 ECU/kWh, making the CHP plant uncompetitive. In addition, at the time of the study, these power companies were reluctant to enter into agreements with small-scale independent private power producers. These drawbacks made it necessary to modify the plans for the proposed plant. Results from a number of cycle simulations showed that the electric and thermal efficiencies derived from a conventional biomass (wood) furnace, instead of the original gasifier/gas combustion unit, were almost the same.

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Bernard DECONINCK
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