1363Biomass Costs and Availability

The costs of biomass feedstocks vary significantly. Low-value wastes such as animal manures can command tipping fees, while very high-value feedstocks such as clean wood chips (suitable for paper production) may cost $75 to $90/ton. Power producers attempt to obtain the lowest priced mix of feedstocks compatible with their generation system.

The paper and forest products industries generate power using processing wastes that otherwise must be disposed. In that sense, they have feedstock costs of $0 or less. Some areas have wood wastes or food processing wastes that are abundant. These feedstocks can have relatively low costs of $5 to $10/dry ton ($0.30 to 0.60/mmBtu). In the broader market, biomass feedstock costs for power generation in the U.S. cover a wide range, perhaps $15 to $30/dry ton ($0.90 to 1.80/mmBtu) delivered to the site for typical combustion facilities.

Biomass is widely available in North America, but careful studies must be made by potential power generators to ensure that sufficient quantities are available at specific sites. This is particularly crucial with larger-scale facilities of 20 to 50 MWe capacity. Biomass can typically be gathered and transported within a radius of 50 miles before transportation costs become prohibitive. Sufficient biomass is currently available in a few localities for facilities up to about 100 MWe. In the future, the establishment of short-rotation forestry and the development of energy crops may provide abundant reliable supplies of biomass for even larger facilities. The costs of these energy crops are estimated to be in the range of $1.20 to 2.25/mmBtu on a dry basis when delivered to a large facility.

Smaller facilities, below about 5 MWe in scale, typically have little problem with feedstock availability. These small facilities frequently utilize local point sources of low-cost wastes, such as sawdust, to reduce their feedstock costs. The power producer, however, must exercise due diligence to ensure that feedstocks will be available on a continuing basis at reasonably predictable costs.

Biomass is generally available throughout the world for small-scale facilities, but larger-scale applications have more limitations. For instance, larger facilities can be sited in many places in North America and northern Europe, but higher population densities in southern Europe limit the amounts of biomass there. For smaller-scale distributed generation systems, biomass availability is significantly constrained only in those situations of climate extremes or population densities that limit biomass production.

Solar Stirling Engine Basics Explained

Solar Stirling Engine Basics Explained

The solar Stirling engine is progressively becoming a viable alternative to solar panels for its higher efficiency. Stirling engines might be the best way to harvest the power provided by the sun. This is an easy-to-understand explanation of how Stirling engines work, the different types, and why they are more efficient than steam engines.

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