Our biomass power experts are a world class group and biomass power consulting is a vital part of our business. The Biomass Power Division of Lee Enterprises Consulting consists of leading business, financial, engineering and other experts in biomass power generation. Biomass power refers to the process of generating electricity (with or without usable byproducts) from organic material using a number of thermal conversion processes. This renewable energy has the benefits of high capacity factor, ability to be dispatched and low variability of seasonal plant output which makes it an ideal complement to renewables such as small hydro, wind and solar. Most biomass power plants utilize feedstock from forest or agricultural residues, waste streams from municipal solid waste, or biosolids from sewage treatment. The electricity generated is typically considered carbon neutral because of the renewable nature of the feedstock and often has the incremental benefit of producing energy from a waste stream which can assimulate the costs associated with disposal or treatment. Steam, Organic Rankine Cycle and Gasification are three processes that are commonly used for biomass power generation depending on the characteristics and availability of the feedstock, operating requirements and plant capacity. Our BIOMASS CONSULTING – together with all our renewable energy consulting, alternative fuels consulting, bioenergy consulting, and renewable chemicals consulting – is done by the top experts in the world!
Steam power generation was developed in the late 1800s with the development of the steam turbine, and is widely used for power generation. In a biomass steam power plant the biomass combustor is used to produce steam in a boiler that flows through a steam turbine generator set to produce electrical power. Depending on the application the power plant can be a cogeneration (producing steam) or condensing using a cooling medium such as air or water circulating through a cooling tower. Typical nameplate capacities for biomass fired steam power plants are in the 15 MW to 70 MW range due to feedstock availability and economies of scale.
Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC)
Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) power generation is similar to the steam cycle however the process uses an organic, high molecular mass thermal fluid with a liquid-vapor phase change occurring at a lower temperature than the water-steam phase change. The process transfers heat to a fluid at constant pressure to produce vapor that drives a turbine generator to produce electricity. The vapor is then condensed to liquid and recycled through the system. ORC systems are typically favoured in conditions where waste heat or low cost fuel is available and typically has benefits of lower operating and maintenance costs compared to the steam process. Technology developments have recently resulted in plant efficiencies that are similar to low temperature steam. Typical nameplate capacities for ORC power plants are from 500 kW to 15 MW.
Biomass gasification producing biogas or syngas for combustion in an Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) has been successfully operated at a commercial scale in recent years by several technology providers. This process has been challenging for many to accomplish due to gas contaminants such as tar, and low syngas energy content from certain types of gasifiers that do not meet engine requirements. This process is particularly attractive as a high efficiency process for biomass power generation at smaller plant capacities with the benefits of multiple units for enhanced reliability, flexible electricity output and reduced operating and maintenance costs in many regions. Typical nameplate capacities for gasifiers are 50 kW to 2 MW with large generating stations accomplished by combining multiple units.