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Biomass gasification in district heating systems - The effect of economic energy policies

Elisabeth Wetterlund and Mats Söderström

Applied Energy, 2010, vol. 87, issue 9, 2914-2922

Abstract: Biomass gasification is considered a key technology in reaching targets for renewable energy and CO2 emissions reduction. This study evaluates policy instruments affecting the profitability of biomass gasification applications integrated in a Swedish district heating (DH) system for the medium-term future (around year 2025). Two polygeneration applications based on gasification technology are considered in this paper: (1) a biorefinery plant co-producing synthetic natural gas (SNG) and district heat; (2) a combined heat and power (CHP) plant using integrated gasification combined cycle technology. Using an optimisation model we identify the levels of policy support, here assumed to be in the form of tradable certificates, required to make biofuel production competitive to biomass based electricity generation under various energy market conditions. Similarly, the tradable green electricity certificate levels necessary to make gasification based electricity generation competitive to conventional steam cycle technology, are identified. The results show that in order for investment in the SNG biorefinery to be competitive to investment in electricity production in the DH system, biofuel certificates in the range of 24-42 EUR/MWh are needed. Electricity certificates are not a prerequisite for investment in gasification based CHP to be competitive to investment in conventional steam cycle CHP, given sufficiently high electricity prices. While the required biofuel policy support is relatively insensitive to variations in capital cost, the required electricity certificates show high sensitivity to variations in investment costs. It is concluded that the large capital commitment and strong dependency on policy instruments makes it necessary that DH suppliers believe in the long-sightedness of future support policies, in order for investments in large-scale biomass gasification in DH systems to be realised.

Keywords: Biomass; gasification; Energy; policy; District; heating; Energy; system; optimisation; Biorefinery (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2010
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Handle: RePEc:eee:appene:v:87:y:2010:i:9:p:2914-2922