Biomass power market is anticipated to witness a significant growth owing to technological advancements and increasing focus on research and development to provide biomass for power generation. Increasing use of biomass such as plant and manure materials to produce electricity and generate biomass fuels for transportation is expected to contribute to the industry growth over the forecast period.
By feedstock, the biomass power market is segmented into urban residue, biogas, agriculture & forest residues, energy crop, and woody biomass and landfill gas feedstock. By technology, the biomass power generation is categorized into landfill gas, co-firing, combustion, CHP, anaerobic digestion, and gasification.
The combustion segment dominates the industry regarding installed capacity and power generation. However, the sector may witness decline due to the emergence of advanced technologies such as co-firing and Combined Heat and Power (CHP). These technologies are more feasible and used to minimize greenhouse emission.
Woody biomass is anticipated to lead global market followed by agriculture and forest residue owing to rapid growth of industrialization, emerging economies and the increasing demand for energy. Every country has their ways of using waste wood. In countries such Germany and the UK, waste wood is considered as renewable energy as they are used in particular biomass plants and as fuel for municipal waste incineration.
There are four thermochemical biomass conversion technologies for energy purposes namely gasification, liquefaction, pyrolysis and direct combustion. The selection is decided by characteristics of the fuel, costs and performance of the equipment available, energy and capacity needed and existed environmental legislations. Presently, biomass is converted into electricity by direct combustion method.
Since biomass fuels can contain elements that can harm engines such as chlorine components, metals and fly ash particles only, external combustion method is used. As it is harmful to the environment, flue gas treatment process is necessary.
In gasification process, biomass is converted into gaseous fuels, the major components being hydrogen and carbon monoxide. The gas produced can be used for generating electricity and also as synthesis gas in the chemical industries.
Co-combustion of biomass with lignite, peat and hard coal in traditional boilers represents one combination of fossil and renewable energy utilization that leads to benefits from both fuels. With fluidized bed fuel plants, a higher level of co- firing can be achieved whereas with pulverized fuel plants biomass can replace approximately up to ten percent of a boiler’s coal input with very fewer equipment alterations.
The use of agro-industrial residues as biomass feedstock must be matched to the power plant type. While fluidized bed combustion systems have a relatively broad particle size tolerance, pulverized fuel combustion systems require a narrower range, which can be harder to obtain when using fibrous materials.
Improving economic conditions is leading to industrialization across the world resulting in high electricity consumption. High demand for electricity is expected to drive the demand for biomass energy over the future. Moreover, availability of carbon credits for renewable energy projects and the clean development mechanism (CDM) program may contribute to industry growth.
Decreasing oil reserves with uncertainty in crude oil prices is anticipated to strengthen the industry. The shift in the trend towards usage of renewable energy sources as an alternative to conventional resources is expected to increase the production growth in coming years.
Government initiatives and support regarding tariffs, tax incentives, loan guarantees and competitive public bidding is supposed to drive the industry over the forecast period.
The major restraining factor affecting the biomass power industry is high installation cost. Companies are involved in acquisition and mergers to sustain in the market and strengthen their market presence.
The energy industry is competing with other industries for biomass resources. These industries are paper industry, forest industry, panel board makers and the pulp industry. All these industries play a significant role in using and supplying biomass.
The cost of electricity from biomass-fired power plants majorly depends on capital costs and feedstock. It can compete with usual power sources such as coal with the availability of low-cost forestry waste, agriculture, and residues. Electricity generation from coal is more expensive than biomass, which makes it more efficient to produce off-grid power supply.
Biomass used for power generation can provide a low-carbon and sustainable alternative to fossil fuels while allowing local communities to use domestic biomass resources. It makes productive utilization of wood manufacturing wastes, the unused portion of urban waste and crop residues. Several government institutions focus on increasing utilization for power generation as a part of their energy efficiency strategy. Such initiatives aim to reorganize the national energy economies and augment the share of renewable energy in the overall power generation mix.
North America and Europe is projected to foresee the substantial growth owing to the increasing government support. Factors such as funding programs, investment subsidies, incentives and tax benefits play a significant role in developing the industry in countries such as Germany US and the UK.
Emerging economies such as India and Indonesia have been proposing government legislations to increase the investments in this sector. The natural features and crops are grown in a given region profoundly influence the geographic distribution of this industry.
Key players operating in this industry includes DONG Energy A/S, Wilcox Company, Forth Energy Ltd., Ameresco Inc., Drax Group plc Co., Enviva LP, MGT Ltd., Alstom SA, Helius Energy Plc, Vattenfall AB and The Babcock & Wilcox Company.
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