ELECTRICITY AND HEAT
Biomass feedstock is one of the main global sources of power, accounting for 14% of global primary energy. Sources range from wood, arable residues, wastes and dedicated energy crops. The key market opportunities are in the EU and North America.
There are a multitude of options for generating electricity, but not many that generate heat and electricity.
Consequently, biomass has been targeted as a key technology that provides base load reliable renewable electricity plus heat in some instances.
Generation of electricity from energy crops, such as Miscanthus, reduces CO2 emissions compared to coal by 95%.
Biomass is also one of the most cost effective sources of renewable energy, and also has the potential for transformation into bio coal via torrefaction.
The EU Biomass Action Plan gave target levels of biomass production, suggesting that by 2020 production is required to be up to 100 million tonnes, compared to a 2003 consumption of less than 5 million tonnes. This would require circa 8 million ha (20 million acres) of land in energy crops. It has been calculated that this can be achieved without influencing food production. An important point to undertand is that eperennial energy grasses do not need to be grown on the best agricultural land – indeed they should not be grown on that land. Energy production from cropping should be targeted at less productive land, even ‘brown field’ sites that have previously seen other forms of land disturbance.
In the US the comparable strategic plan (Billion Tonne Study) has also predicted that a proportion of the 16 million ha (40 million acres) for of land that could be used for energy production will be used for electricity/heat rather than biofuels.
NEF has a focus on a number of market areas where end users require feedstock from energy crops, these are.
- Co-firing of biomass with coal in existing power stations.
- Dedicated biomass combustion plants burning 100% biomass.
- Thermal heat production.
NEF have industry leading experience with Miscanthus, the leading energy crop for combustion to produce a dry high quality feedstock.
The production benefits of Miscanthus are outlined below.