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Implementation studies in four regions of the EU for power from biomass att he scale of 1 to 5 MW


The main objective of the research was to test the conclusions of a feasibility study of the de-centralised production of electricity from biomass carried out under the JOULE II Programme in 1992/93. That study concluded that electricity generation projects were nearly technically and commercially feasible given existing support measures for renewable energy and energy crops within the EU and that future research should concentrate on projects at the scale of 1 to 5 MWe fuelled with biomass drawn from a range of sources. To provide a rigorous examination of the conclusions in a fully commercial environment, implementation studies were developed for small power stations at four sites in Scotland, England, Italy and Portugal. Of the four plants proposed, two (in Italy and Portugal) are likely to be built in the near future. The implementation studies have revealed several factors that currently have an impact on the development of power-from-biomass projects. The attitude of local and regional authorities towards such projects is generally positive, but it is essential for project developers to brief officials about their plans at the earliest opportunity, particularly where public opinion about new energy developments is sensitive. There is still a reluctance among developers to use gasification or pyrolysis instead of combustion, because of the perceived technology risk. There is also a much greater reliance on the use of forest residues than energy crops for fuel because of the expense and slow establishment of the latter. Opportunities to use waste heat from the plants appear to be limited, except for drying fuel. Of the four projects included in the study, the Portuguese plant is the one that is most certain to be built because it has all of the necessary Governmental support in place and will be financed and developed by Electricidade de Portugal. It will be the first project of its kind in Portugal and, if it proves to be successful, it will probably be replicated to make use of the extensive potential fuel supply from forestry residues. The Italian plant is expected to be implemented in the medium term, subject to the recruitment of a local industrial partner, and successful applications for an electricity sales contract and a Government grant.