Assessment of the most adequate pre-treatments and woody biomass sources intended for direct co-firing in the U.S.
There is increasing interest in replacing coal with woody biomass in co-firing plants for electrical power. A variety of pre-treatments can be used to make biomass more suitable for co-firing. This research presents a model that evaluates the delivered costs of various pre-treated biomass sources, electricity production costs, and constraints, and calculates a least cost mix. Results of the scenario presented indicate that wood chips are the most economical co-firing option for delivering biomass to direct-fired boilers. Apart from potential feeding and processing issues, the wood-chips options of forest residues present the lowest cost of electricity production for small-scale co-firing applications. From the options that will ensure minimum processing issues in the co-firing cycle, wood pellets from southern yellow pine represent the most economical choice. Based on coal displacement from the facility, torrefied wood pellets from southern yellow pine is a preferred option as compared to other choices evaluated. An alternative to torrefied wood pellets from southern yellow pine is dark torrefied Eucalyptus benthamii, providing similar electricity production costs while reducing coal utilization.