HOW IT WORKS
Biomass plants create carbon neutral electricity by burning renewable organic waste such as crops, manure, and lumber. When the organic waste is burned, energy is released as heat. Combustion engineering has helped biomass power plants reduce the amount of harmful emissions released into the atmosphere when burning organic waste compared to fossil fuels like coal. Unlike fossil fuels, biomass resources can be locally sourced and are renewable.
Utilizing biomass through burning wood helps reduce the need to import fossil fuels. It is estimated that about 6 million tons of wood is wasted by being sent to landfills in the UK each year which is the same amount of biomass needed to heat 1.5 million homes annually. This wasted wood could instead be put to use in biomass plants to generate electricity.
WHAT THE MARKET LOOKS LIKE
From 2010 to 2015, the global biomass manufacturing market is projected to increase from $572.9 billion to $693.7 billion, according to the latest issue of EL Insights.
Supply chain issues, which can arise from sourcing from a large number of suppliers, have so far prevented the widespread exploitation of agricultural residues, but with demand for bioenergy on the rise globally and a slow supply response, the question is whether bioenergy producers can afford not to tackle these issues.
The initial costs of a biomass boiler are quite daunting to most, with an automatic biomass boiler costing around £12,000 in a domestic residence, and manual biomass boilers, where wood is fed into the furnace by hand, slightly cheaper at £7,000. This cost will rise for commercial and business use. On top of the equipment and installation, fuel costs need to be taken into consideration, with a tonne of wood pellets derived from waste wood materials typically costing around £150-£200.
Biomass boilers have become a bigger incentive to install due to the introduction of the Renewable Heat Incentive in November 2011. This is a scheme for the non-domestic sector, providing long-term financial support for renewable heat by providing payments to businesses, industry and public sector organisations. This is also to be extended to a household scheme, planned for spring 2014. This is part of the UK having a binding target under the European Commission’s Renewable Energy Directive to source 15% of its overall energy from renewable sources by 2020.