If Obama stops dirty coal, as he must, what will replace it? Part 2: An intro to biomass cofiring

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"If Obama stops dirty coal, as he must, what will replace it? Part 2: An intro to biomass cofiring"

Part 1 was an overview of the energy strategies the country needs to stop building new coal plants and start reducing emissions from existing ones, focusing on energy efficiency, wind, and concentrated solar power. Biomass cofiring will be the focus of a couple of posts since, although rarely-discussed, it is probably the cheapest, easiest, and fastest way to provide new renewable baseload power without having to build any new transmission lines.

I first started analyzing the carbon benefits of cofiring biomass with coal in 1997 when I was overseeing a study by five U.S. national laboratories that examined what an aggressive technology-based strategy built around energy efficiency and renewable energy could achieve in terms of emissions reductions. (See full study here and some history on it by California Energy Commissioner Art Rosenfeld here.) With supporting analysis done by the Electric Power Research Institute, the Five Lab Study concluded that biomass cofiring was the single biggest potential contributor to near-term greenhouse gas reductions of any renewable energy strategy.

Cofiring is a well demonstrated strategy with multiple benefits. From a practical perspective, most of the existing coal plants are mostly paid off. Plus they are fully permitted and have all the necessary transmission plus they are connected to freight train lines and water supply. Plus this is baseload power. So you avoid all of the problems associated with citing new renewables in the Midwest or Southwest. Cofiring is thus a key near-term strategy for meeting climate goals — and renewable standards — in the midwest and southeast.

And, again, this is baseload power, and your typical coal plant has a capacity factor that is some 2 to 3 times larger than that of wind. So 20 GW of biomass coal firing will generate as much power as 50 GW of wind.

The down side of co-firing is, of course, that it is biomass power, and thus may prove not to be either scalable or sustainable in the long term (see “Are biofuels a core climate solution?“). But as a strategy for existing coal utilities to start weaning themselves off of coal over the next two decades, cofiring may be a critical piece.

Also, in the event that carbon capture and storage ever proves practical, affordable and scalable — which is no slam dunk to say the least (see “Is coal with carbon capture and storage a core climate solution?“) — then we will certainly want to insist that coal plants with CCS including biomass cofiring. After all, what strategy could be more important for averting catastrophic global warming than pulling CO2 out of the air with biomass and then sequestering that CO2 in underground repositories. Such coal with biomassing cofiring and CCS — BCCCS — has the potential to be negative-carbon electricity.

You may ask why you hardly hear anything about biomass cofiring if it is such a great idea. That will be covered in Part 3. In the rest of this post, I will reprint the discussion of biomass cofiring from Chapter 7 — Electricity Supply Technologies of the Five Lab Study:

[Note: In the interest of space and readability, I won't indent this lengthy extract. Also certain numbers below, such as the price of coal, are out of date. I will present more recent analyses in the next post.]

7.3.1.1 Cofiring Coal with Biomass
Cofiring biomass with coal has the technical and economic potential to replace at least 8 GW of the nation’s coal-based generating capacity by 2010, and as much as 26 GW by 2020.

Though the current substitution rate is negligible, a rapid expansion is possible with the use of wood residues (urban wood, pallets, and secondary manufacturing products) and dedicated feedstock supply systems (DFSS) such as willow, poplar, and switchgrass.

The current coal-fired power-generating system represents a direct opportunity for carbon mitigation by substituting biomass-based renewable carbon for fossil carbon. Extensive demonstrations and trials have shown that biomass can replace up to about 15% of the total energy input with little more than burner and feed-intake system modifications to existing stations (CONEG, 1996). Since large-scale power boilers in today’s 310-GWcapacity fleet range from 100 MW to 1.3 GW, the biomass potential in a single boiler ranges from 15-150 MW.

Preparation of biomass to an appropriate size of less than one-quarter inch, with a moisture content of less than 25%, can be achieved using existing commercial technologies. “Tuning” the combustion output of the boilers causes little loss in total efficiency, implying that the biomass-to-electricity combustion efficiency is close to the 33-37% range of an unmodified coal plant, an efficiency that stand-alone biomass generating capacity has yet to demonstrate.

Economics
The cost of implementing biomass cofiring varies from site to site. It is influenced by the space available for yarding and storing the biomass, the installation of size-reduction and drying facilities, and the nature of the boiler burner modifications required. The cost is expected to be in the range of $100-$700/kW of biomass capacity. Early trials indicate that a median value of about $180/kW is likely. A 100-MW coal plant with 10% biomass substitution would then require an investment of $1.8 million. There is an O&M cost increase of $70,000/year over coal, as a result of the need for an additional yard worker to handle the biomass. Assuming a GENCO recovers its investment cost in three years, the annual fuel offset then has to be $670,000 to cover capital recovery ($1.8 million) and increased O&M costs ($210,000 for three years). If the average price of coal is about $1.40/MBtu (million Btu), the annual fuel cost of coal is $1.081 million (10 MW of biomass capacity at 85% capacity factor and 32.9% thermal efficiency, 10,337 Btu/kWh). The allowable cost of biomass then is $411,000, or about $9/tonne. Above this cost, the biomass would have to be subsidized to encourage a GENCO to use biomass cofiring.

[JR: Ultimately cofiring will be driven by climate regulations and whatever price for carbon is established.]

Fuel Costs
Near-term potential biomass feedstocks are those residues available within a radius of about 50 miles around a plant. Data from existing biomass power plants in the Northeast and California indicate that there are extensive sources of biomass residues available for about $0.50/MBtu (less than $9/tonne). Transportation costs limit the range over which such biomass feedstocks can be acquired and, in the long term, there are likely to be dedicated feedstock systems much closer to the power plants. By definition, residues (e.g., urban wood residues, rights-of-way clearance, construction and demolition wood, pallets, and sawdust shavings from secondary wood processing) are finite and will respond to the prices offered for them.

Dedicated feedstocks would not be bound by this constraint. However, such feedstocks are much more expensive than residues. With current technology the price is about $2/MBtu, although the current development goal is in the range of $1-$1.50/MBtu. It is assumed that an estimated 10.4 million acres will be needed to reach a nominal production of 86 Mt by 2020. Because DFSS is in an early stage of development, the model assumes that the initial planting will yield only about 6 tonnes/acre by 2002 (today’s state-of-the-art), and that by 2010 the yield will be closer to 8 tonnes/acre. Today’s costs are high; $45/tonne is feasible, but a combination of learning-curve improvements and economies of scale should bring the cost down to about $32/tonne by 2010. The competing coal price is assumed to be 1.40/MBtu ($1.33/GJ) throughout.

Biomass Substitution Potential
The cofiring estimates in this section were derived from a 30 GW scenario for all biomass technologies, developed by NREL for the current Biomass Power Program Strategic Plan. This scenario is for a mix of steam, cofiring, and integrated gasification/combined cycle (IGCC) biomass generation. However, the resource plan that was developed, which included residues and DFSS, is independent of the end use and involves the development of 11-12 million acres of land for DFSS by 2020, or just under 3 million acres by 2010. The resource development shown in Figure 7.11 is used as the basis for this carbon assessment. This indicates that DFSS would come on rapidly after the year 2001 and assumes that residues would be capable of only a small increase in quantity, since much is already being utilized.

The average cost of residues is expected to increase gradually, while the cost of DFSS crops is expected to demonstrate a strong learning curve and large economies of scale.

Timing
While a coal-fired station could be modified for cofiring in less than one year (including environmental permitting), a biomass resource assessment, contractual arrangements, and logistics for biomass residues could take the better part of 18 months, based on actual project experience. Although the availability of residues is assumed to be significant and would ultimately supply about 50 Mt, price and availability are likely to be variable. The price will no doubt increase with the level of demand; therefore, the biomass feedstock supply is
expected to be a blend of DFSS and residues.

The DFSS component is predicated on making a start on land accumulation (whether purchases, leases, or cooperatives), with land preparation and planting in 1999. A significant effort will be required to initiate development of the 11-12 million acres proposed for 2020; today, discussions are about DFSS demonstrations at the 1000-acre level. Adequate clonal material and management systems for planting, tending, and harvesting will also need to be developed. The crops of choice in much of the Northeast and Southeast are probably woody species, which would require extensive nursery activity to put the needed clonal material in place for planting out. With willow, the first harvest cycle would be four years after planting and a rotation of three years thereafter. For poplar, the cycle is likely to be in the range of six to eight years.

Environmental Issues
Because biomass generally contains significantly less sulfur than coal, cofiring with biomass could reduce SOx emissions. Early results suggest that there is also a NOx reduction potential using woody biomass. However, most coal-fired power stations have efficient precipitators and some have sulfur-capture technologies, so the net environmental effect of 10% biomass substitution (on an energy basis) appears to be negligible. The solid wastes (ash) would be little changed in either composition or mass (most biomass has considerably less ash than coal). But some stations sell fly ash to Portland cement manufacturers, so there may be a need to negotiate the acceptance of mixed biomass and coal ash in such applications with respect to ASTM standards.

The DFSS environmental impact is dependent on the choice of lands for plantations. Replacing annual cropland with perennial DFSS appears to result in a net environmental gain. Results for pasture land are probably negligible and replacement of forest may result in some increased impacts.

The use of residue has the potential to offset landfilling as well as potential methane emissions from landfilling clean biomass materials. Experiences in California indicate that the issue will be one of rationalizing the cost distribution between the waste generator, the hauling contractor, and the generating station receiving the residue rather than it going to a landfill. If such negotiations were successful, and the generating station could guarantee reception of the residues at all times (many urban wood residue generators do not have storage facilities), both residue costs and their availability could improve significantly.
Impact on Carbon Emissions
Given the technical and economic potential described above, it is probably reasonable to assume additional biomass-cofired capacity of 8-12 GW by 2010, which should reduce carbon emissions by 16-24 MtC.

[JR: And the study found that by 2020, we could achieve more than double that -- 26 GW. Obviously, these time frames need to be pushed out several years, though the cofiring potential is quite significant for meeting 2020 and later targets, according to recent studies that will be the subject of Part 3.]

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37 Responses to If Obama stops dirty coal, as he must, what will replace it? Part 2: An intro to biomass cofiring

  1. This is a very useful post. Here at Middlebury College, we flipped the switch last week on our new biomass boiler, instantly replacing a million gallons of #6 oil and cutting our carbon emissions 40% overnight. The thing is so beautiful we built a huge plate glass window to show it off. The only questions are about supply–at the moment, we’re using wood chips from around New England, but we don’t want to deforest the region so are busy testing plots of fast-growing willow on abandoned dairy land in the Champlain Valley.

    picture here: http://burlingtonfreepress.com/article/20090220/NEWS02/90219032

  2. This concept has modest _potential_ for technical merit, but it would be a disaster in practice.

    Without first addressing the fundamental issue of supply of “biomass” material, soft-peddled consideration along these lines is structurally pernicious.

    1) It is much harder than you disclose to produce net carbon savings from biomass programs, especially once land use displacements are factored in.

    2) Predating the climate crisis, and still accelerating, is the crisis in loss of biodiversity and exhaustion of natural ecosystems services. That crisis is multiplied by the impacts of climate change. There’s no future in offsetting carbon emissions into further natural systems draw-downs.

    3) Out here in the west, there’s no confusion about what really underlies the “biomass” euphemism. It means cutting down trees. Whether that’s in plantation forests or more natural areas, it’s carbon negative and vastly destructive of our environment. Short term supplies may look good briefly, but the proof needs to be up-front for how a sustainable supply can be provided.

    The idea that we can safely ramp up biomass now, and magically find high-volume sustainable supplies later, seems similar to the idea that we can safely build more coal-fired generating capacity now, and figure out carbon capture and storage sometime later.

    It’s a fundamental error to waste resources – especially natural resources – going in the wrong direction.

    It’s not enough to wean electric power producers from coal. They need to be weaned from coal power plants. Hard. Sorry, but it’s going to be the only way.

    The business of enacting climate solutions is even more cultural and political than it is technical. This proposal is technically weak, or worse, but even more of a looser culturally and politically.

  3. Zac says:

    Hi Joe,

    First off, thanks for all the effort. There are many of us that read your posts, but do not thank you for your work, so I wanted to remedy that today.

    I would be interested in your take on #3 from Mr. Matthew’s comment (above). I live in the west, as well, and see tremendous biomass stocks that do not have to be killed — namely, dead trees the pine beetles have attacked. Although much it is much more difficult to cull these dead stands than clear-cut, there is a tremendous amount of material to utilize for biomass cofiring that is already dead. Couple that will the reduced (seasoned) fuel for forest fires and an aggressive reforestation effort and we could see some real benefits.

  4. A.V. Suni says:

    Indeed, I agree with Kevin. This really boils down to the sources of biomass. It’s quite likely that a significant part of the biomass would come from sources that could be used for purposes where the CO2 won’t be released back to the atmosphere. The issue deserves more research.

  5. Joe says:

    Zac — That is what we have laws for, to make some things illegal and to encourage other things.

    I just can’t see ruling out biomass energy because some people might break the law and cut down healthy trees. Frankly, Companies have all the incentive they need today for illegal logging — wood remains valuable. But again that is what we have the forest service and other branches of government to stop.

    We have vast stocks of agricultural, forest products and personal waste before we even get to dedicated energy crops.

  6. David B. Benson says:

    I went through all my points in comments on the Part 1 thread. I’ll only repeat the most important objection:

    the world will run out of minable phosphorus sometime late this century unless this vital plant nutrient is recycled. Without proper phosphorus management the so-called green revolution will come to a halt; famines.

    Cofiring biomass means that the nutrients, in the ash, are lost in the clinkers which are soil poisoners, not suppliments. Burn the biomass in a separate reactor so that the ash from it can be returned to the soil.

  7. ecostew says:

    I think the biomass for cofiring is more limited than one might think and here is a related discussion. Some of these wastes biomass resources are already being used in small-scale electric/heat generation without cofiring with coal – I would look at expanding this niche.

    http://www.theoildrum.com/node/5132

  8. David B. Benson says:

    ecostew — The major source of unused land suitable for growing biomass is in the global south, mostly but not solely in Africa and South America. Local conversion to biochar would lower transportation costs.

  9. Good discussion! A few quick follow-ups…

    - Dead trees are a critical part of the forest ecosystem, about as much as live trees. Removing them for burning has large effects on forest succession and habitat value.

    - I’m unclear about the concept of “unused land”. Most of the planet, land, water, even underground and deep in the oceans, is used either by humankind, by nature, or by both. The latest research continues to reinforce the finding that virtually any intact natural ecosystem releases carbon when it is disturbed – even desert varnish.

    - Post-consumer, un-recyclable, non-compostable biomass that can be diverted from the land fill stream seems like a safe bet in terms of source impacts. How much volume of that “true waste biomass” is recoverable, using what economic organization of production?

    - Ever watched a hog-fuel operation? Solid fuels with relatively low energy density may be more suitable for local use, and may be relatively inefficient to redistribute over long distances.

    Well put above, a) that the impacts of the sourcing of biomass are critical, and b) that more research is required. Required, I’d suggest, before it is safe to say that increasing biomass burning for electric generation, on a large scale, is a sound proposal.

  10. David B. Benson says:

    Kevin Matthews — Much research has already been done. For example, there is a recent FAO report which points out that there is quite a bit of land, world-wide, suitable for biofuel production (all without doing silly things such as cutting down forests, etc.) Most of this land is in the global south.

    I’ll repeat the important point that co-firing loses important plant nutrients. Unsound.

  11. ecostew says:

    David B – I agree, local/sustainable biomass for electric/heat should be optimized while mitigating AGW. Private forest harvest companies do not throw away their opportunities today – they use biomass for electric/heat based on ROI.

  12. David B. Benson says:

    ecostew — Not just electricity and space heating are possible, but also transportation fuels.

  13. ecostew says:

    Relative to cogen and biomass ethanol, and even crop biodiesel, really, think about how much biomass, with its low energy density, is really available sustainably – what is being wasted today and what do we compromise to get it – fossil fuels, food, water, and AGW mitigation? Low energy biomass must be used locally and efficiently.

  14. ecostew says:

    David – Relative to transportation fuels – it’s niche at this point based on EROI/ROI/LCA (environmental/sustainability issues). It simply is there because of Bush! This said, some of it is absolutely necessary for our well being.

  15. ecostew says:

    David – have you checked our EROI/ROI/LCA on biochar – you might find it interesting?

  16. David B. Benson says:

    ecostew — Ethanol from corn and biodiesel fom rapeseed are losers. But biodiesel from Jatropha is taking off in a big way in South and Southeast Asia.

    ROI on biochar depends upon what you do with it. Small scale demonstrations indicate high ROI when applied as a soil amendment. Biochar, in the form of torrefied wood, competes successfully with coal right now, provided the biochar does not have to be transported very far and provided it is from otherwise collected biomass, i.e., forestry wastes.

  17. jcwinnie says:

    DB, all of this (hand wave) seems so much Syngas Spin.

    Yes, biomass co-firing is better than all coal; it still is a fail. Yes, co-generation is more efficient, so there is less pollution per kW. Still your suggested replacement is far from the change that needed to occur in the energy sector yetz.

    Maybe, using biomass to maintain enthalpy in a solar thermal system… maybe. I would much rather see biogas fired steam turbines with the biogas coming from well-controlled (read pressurized, semi-closed) systems for converting waste by means of anaerobic fermentation and well-monitored (read new, enforceable standards) systems for first cleaning the bio-gas sufficiently.

    I am sure that the BAUAAAE boyz at GE and Siemens would disagree. Especially, Herr Doktor Fischer-Tropsch, when so much ecomagination has gone into greenwashing that terra preta. Now if we just could find a bio-energetic term for those ash ponds, eh?

  18. ecostew says:

    David – I agree with everything you say (especially ethanol and most crop biodiesel), but I don’t think the science is in on biochar as a soil amendment (especially longer-term soil genesis) – it’s not the same as organic material.

  19. David B. Benson says:

    jcwinnie — No need to clean the biogasse. It is about 65–70% methane, the remainder mostly CO2; a little sulfur might be cleaned out of the flue gas. The Dayton, Ohio, municiple waste management facility provides an example of biogasse burning to generate electricity.

    ecostew — Since biochar is just carbon (plus stuff) all obtained from biomass, it is certainly organic. There is now enough research already conducted to show it is only positive when applied in small quantities. (That is, less than 10% of soil content.)

    Lots more here:

    http://terrapreta.bioenergylists.org/

    Thorough review here:

    http://terrapreta.bioenergylists.org/node/578

  20. ecostew says:

    David – the research is mixed:

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080501180247.htm

    and, biochar clearly is not the same as native plant organic material decaying & being incorporated into the soil profile.

  21. ecostew says:

    I think more research is in order before large-scale biochar soil amendments are considered.

    http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/research/topics/biochar

  22. David B. Benson says:

    ecostew — Biochar is rather more similar to what is left of a forest after a fire.

    Large-scale biochar soil amendments are especially helpful on some soils in promoting agricultural production. But each farmer needs to work out what matrials to char and how much to apply. Like any othr part of soil science, the answer depends upon local conditions.

  23. ecostew says:

    David – the science at this point does not support your perspective.

  24. ecostew says:

    Yes and David – what is the return interval for forest fires? Shall we stay grounded in science?

  25. jcwinnie says:

    Biochar is pencil-whipping. Those that link it to renewable energy resources are unconcerned whether it works, only that it has the image, which they are hard at work on fabricating, that it could work.

    The approach is similar to the clean coal lie told to the American public last night… we can continue to do as we please in the 5000 day window that possibly remain, just so long as think about doing something better.

    [cue Emperor Fossil theme, heavy on the timpani] See Syllogism of Doom

  26. David B. Benson says:

    ecostew & jcwinnie — First, as a soil amendment, biochar obviously has worked in the Amazon, remaining as “terra preta” for thousands of years.. In other locations it is a matter of how much to add.

    Biochar, in the form of torrefied wood, is currently be produced for cofiring. To the economic advantage of all concerned.

    In neither case is much carbon ever going to be sequestered. Biochar, in whatever form, won’t do much for renewable energy either, but it can be a larger bit pllayer.

  27. ecostew says:

    Just because tropical forest laterite soils, which quickly lost their organic fraction when farmed, could be amended with biochar to extend their productivity doesn’t mean that it a scientifically sound approach to mitigating AGW on a larger scale. It also does not mean that the practice was even that sustainable in the tropics.

  28. David B. Benson says:

    ecostew — The Amerindians produced terra preta for many thousands of years. Sounds sustainable to me.

    But using biochar buried to only soil depth to mitigate AGW, on anythiing approaching the required scale, is most unlikely to occur.

  29. ecostew says:

    They slash & burned and moved on through time – I haven’t seen that factored into any sustainability analysis – where is the scientific support.

  30. David B. Benson says:

    ecostew — No, they slash & chared. And didn’t move on.

  31. ecostew says:

    Show us the peer-reviewed science (including sustainability) David, and also, the peer-reviewed science that we should endorse it in a big way to mitigate AGW long-term world-wide. And, the potential difference biochar actually makes in amending soils for AGW in the long-term.

  32. What about the biomass diverted from soil sequestration from biomass combustion? The assumption that biomass is a carbon neutral fuel is eronious.

    Only drought killed forest that would otherwise burn could be carbon neutral. And it would be better used in biodigestion to produce both energy and fertilizer/soil ammendment.

    Wind is a better, faster way to reduce coal. And biogas from waste, and solar cogeneration with ground source heating/cooling. Burning biomass just doesn’t make much sense compared to the better alternatives.

  33. jcwinnie mentioned anaerobic digesters.

    Has anyone done a study on what the potential is for generating power from farm waste alone, on a national or global scale? In other words, how much power could we produce if manure and other farm waste is used in anaerobic digesters to produce methane, and subsequently either burn the methane or use it in fuel cells.

    What are the pros and cons?

    A company called Environmental Power is doing this. They clean up the gas and pipe it into commercial natural gas pipelines. PG&E is buying gas from them.

  34. I’m not sure this is the right place to bring it up but I have a few other questions.

    Why is there not more emphasis on bioplastics in most discussions about energy and environment?

    Somewhere between 5-10% of our oil goes to making plastics. And we throw away much of it immediately in the form of packaging. It’s a huge environmental problem in itself particularly in the ocean. The cutting edge technology seems to be that of company called Metabolix. They make PHA bioplastics, while most companies make PLA. They have gentically engineered bacteria that digest the plant matter and turn it into plastic. Simply stated, the bacteria puff up like popcorn full of plastic. Far fewer steps than other processes, like those used to make PLA, which require several fermenting steps.

    The PHA plastic is completely biodegradable, in fact 100% compostable without any heating or other treatment.
    PLA needs to be heated to about 150 F to compost it.
    PHA plastic will even safely break down in sea water.

    What’s more, they have the ability to grow plastic in plants directly. They have already done this in pilot projects under a Federal research grant. They are not genetically modifying the plants, only the bacteria that they somehow introduce into the plants at the germinal stage. They have done this with switchgrass, producing plants with plastic in the leaves and stems. The wonders of science!

    The other topic is industrial hemp. It seem to me we should be moving toward making paper from hemp. We might even save the Boreal forest from destruction.

    While not huge climate solutions compared with power generation and efficiency, these are not small issues.
    Certainly deforestation is a big climate issue. And 5-10% of our oil consumption is substantial.

  35. Growing plants to make plastic makes more sense to me than growing crops to make fuel to burn. The process is said to be carbon neutral from beginning to end. There is even biofuel feedstock as a byproduct.

    Come to think of it, could this, alternatively, be a way maybve with some tinkering, to grow plants that pack a lot more fuel potential?

  36. Theodore says:

    I’m perpetually astonished at the effort people will put into finding less desirable alternatives to the obvious forms of clean energy. Being forced to eventually settle for CSP when all other options have been exhausted will apparently be a big disappointment.

  37. Some of the comments to “cofiring of biomass in fossile energy power plants” are more or less professional. Obviously because not everyone knows that wourldwide renewable biomass is available in excessive quantity with wich the worlds energy balance can be easely covered.
    The biggest problem of the future is not only the climate house effect but the increase of popullation and the production of food for them. For increasing the food production more nutrition of the soil is necessary. Presently fertilizers are made mainly by natural gas and crude oil. If we continue to burn this fossile raw materials we do not only hurry up the climate house effect but we will also not be able to feed the future population. The result will be: deseas, wars and masses of migrants from poor to rich countries etc….
    We, in the industrialized world, have the obligation to take care that this development should not take place otherwise we will distroy our childrens environment and future. Therefore all of us have to take care that fossile energy is replaced by renewable biomass energy, excluding crops being used in the production of human and animal food.
    Renewable biomass does not grow only in woods but mainly on the fields in form of Straw, Hemp, Switchgrass, Miscanthus, Igniscum and are also available in form of Bagasse, Expeller of oil production, and all other sorts of stalks, leaves, shell and husk.
    The technologies to transform this renewable biomasses into solid, gas or liquid fuel and this to energy are known and available. The only problem until now was missing equipment to convert this bulky biomass in industrial quantities and to reasonable costs into high density, good handable, long storagible and easy transportable format.
    Allthought this problems may be solved in the future. Since few months a new mobile pelletizing unit under the name “PELLET-MOBIL” of a german producer is on the marked with wich 2,5 – 3 tons/ hour of biomass can be converted to high density pellets. It is equipped with an electrical generator of 500 kW driven by a 12 cylinder engine on fuel oil or plant oil basis and may produce pellets all around the clock and year. It can be feeded eighter with bales but also with shredded or milled raw material. Capacities of more than 10.000 tons of pellets / year and per unit are possible. The construction is based on a stationary pellet plant only installed on wheels and equipped with its own power plant. Due to it, bulky biomass has not to be transported to the pellet plant but the pellet plant is brought to the producer, to the farmer, who may convert its own straw to pellets, encreasing herewith its hectar crop incoms by more than 20 %. By this the farmer transforms a part of his activity from agricultor to renewable energy producer, creating new working places and jobs for labour with poor professional education.

    10.000 tons of straw pellets have a calorific value of approx. 43.000 MWh and replace the energy of approx. 6.320 tons of brown coal, 4.800 tons of fuel oil or 3.900 tons of natural gas and save more than 1.290 tons of fossile CO2 emmissions.
    USA dispose of gigantic renewable energy resources and could replace within less than 20 years its whole fossile energy production by renewable biomasses. The ash of the fired biomass could be used as fertilizer for the soil, closing herewith the natural nutrition circle.

    Therefore don’t only argue about utilization of renewable energy, do
    somthing for it and for your children future!!!