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biomass and bioenergy 34 (2010) 620629

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An evaluation of biomass co-firing in Europe


Fouad Al-Mansour a,*, Jaroslaw Zuwala b
a
b

ef Stefan Institute, Energy Efficiency Centre, Jamova 39, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
Joz
IChPW Institute for Chemical Processing of Coal, Zamkowa 1, 41-803 Zabrze, Poland

article info

abstract

Article history:

Reduction of the emissions of greenhouses gases, increasing the share of renewable energy

Received 26 November 2007

sources (RES) in the energy balance, increasing electricity production from renewable

Received in revised form

energy sources and decreasing energy dependency represent the main goals of all current

3 June 2009

strategies in Europe. Biomass co-firing in large coal-based thermal power plants provides

Accepted 6 January 2010

a considerable opportunity to increase the share of RES in the primary energy balance and

Available online 7 February 2010

the share of electricity from RES in gross electricity consumption in a country. Biomasscoal co-firing means reducing CO2 and SO2, emissions and it may also reduce NOx emis-

Keywords:

sions, and also represents a near-term, low-risk, low-cost and sustainable energy devel-

Biomass

opment. Biomass-coal co-firing is the most effective measure to reduce CO2 emissions,

Co-firing

because it substitutes coal, which has the most intensive CO2 emissions per kWh electricity

Evaluation methodology

production, by biomass, with a zero net emission of CO2. Biomass co-firing experience

Bioenergy

worldwide are reviewed in this paper. Biomass co-firing has been successfully demonstrated in over 150 installations worldwide for most combinations of fuels and boiler types
in the range of 50700 MWe, although a number of very small plants have also been
involved. More than a hundred of these have been in Europe. A key indicator for the
assessment of biomass co-firing is intrduced and used to evaluate all available biomass cofiring technologies.
2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1.

Introduction

Environmental protection represents one of the major strategic objectives for all countries. The obligations of the Kyoto
Protocol to reduce greenhouse gases (GHG) by 8% by 2012,
relative to the base year 1990, and its high energy dependency
(more than 50% [1]) is forcing the EU to achieve a doubling of
the share of renewable energy sources by 2010 (from 6% of
total consumption in 1996 to 12% in 2010) as the target of the
EU strategy [2] and the Directive adopted to increase the share
of electricity production from RES in its electricity consumption [3]. The European Commission has been finding that the
share of renewable energy is unlikely to exceed 10% by 2010
and proposes in its Renewable Energy Roadmap [4] a binding

target of increasing the level of renewable energy in the EU


overall mix from less than 7% today to 20% by 2020 [4,5].
The Directive on renewable energy in electricity generation
provides the framework for electricity from biomass and the
Biomass Action Plan [6] states that electricity can be generated
from all types of biomass. Several reliable technologies are
available. These technologies can be used to co-fire
biomass, by mixing it with coal or natural gas, or to run freestanding power stations.
Biomass-coal co-firing means reducing CO2 and SO2 emissions and it may also reduce NOx emissions [7,8] and represents a near-term, low-risk, low-cost and sustainable energy
development. Biomass-coal co-firing is the most effective
measure to reduce CO2 emissions, because it is the

* Corresponding author. Tel.: 386 41974810; fax: 386 1 5885 377.


E-mail address: fouad.al-mansour@ijs.si (F. Al-Mansour).
0961-9534/$ see front matter 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.biombioe.2010.01.004

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biomass and bioenergy 34 (2010) 620629

Number of biomass co-firing plants

90
80

78

70
60
50
40

40
30
20
10

27
18

15
9

7
2

on
es
Ta i a
iw
Th an
ai
la
nd

In
d

ra
lia
us
t
A

U
SA
an
ad
a
C

U
Sw K
ed
e
D
en n
m
ar
k
N
Ita
et
he
l
r la y
nd
A s
us
tr
ia
Sp
ai
B
el n
gi
um
N
or
w
ay

Fi
nl
G an d
er
m
an
y

Fig. 1 Distribution biomass power plants worldwide [12].

substitution of coal (which represents the most intensive CO2


emissions per kWh of electricity production) by biomass with
zero net emission of CO2.
One of the research activities on biomass co-firing is the
NETBIOCOF project, co-funded by the European Commission
under the 6th Framework Programme. The objective of the
NETBIOCOF [9] (Integrated European Network for Biomass Cofiring) project is to promote biomass co-firing and to foster the
uptake of innovative technologies to expand the use of
biomass co-firing in new and existing power plants in EU
member countries. One of the activities of the project is to
review (state of the arts) the co-firing of biomass with fossil
fuels [10] and the identification of best practices in biomass
co-firing in Europe [11]. This paper is based on the results of
both documents (reports).

2.
Biomass co-firing plants in Europe: state
of the arts and geographical distribution
Co-combustion is practised with different types and amounts
of biomass wastes in different combustion and gasification
technologies, configurations and plant sizes. Currently, direct
co-firing is the most commonly applied configuration. The
typical configuration applied in Finland is a fluidised bed
combustion installation within the range of about 20 to
310 MW where different biomass wastes from the wood
industry are directly co-fired, eventually with recycled refuse
fuel (REF), refuse derived fuel (RDF), coal or oil. Here, the
installations need to be fuel flexible, one reason for this being
that sparsely populated countries make specialized mass
burning installations uneconomic. In Sweden, there are
a large number of grate fired boilers in the range 130 MW
which are operated for district heating (mostly firing
biomass only, but it often means co-combustion of different
types of residues). In the paper and pulp industries, there are
both fluidised and grate furnaces that burn mixtures of bark,
sludge, wood residues, oil and some coal.

Worldwide, the current installed capacity of coal fired


power plants amounts to some 800 GWe. Thus, each
percentage of coal that could be substituted by biomass in all
coal fired power plants would result in a biomass capacity of
8 GWe, and a reduction of approx. 60 Mton of CO2. At a typical
co-firing ratio of 5% on an energy basis, this would correspond
to a global potential of approx. 40 GWe, leading to an emission
reduction of around 300 Mton CO2/year. About 200 million
tons of biomass would be needed to fulfil this demand.
Co-firing biomass with coal in traditional coal-fired boilers
is becoming increasingly popular, as it capitalizes on the large
investment and infrastructure associated with the existing
fossil-fuel-based power systems while traditional pollutants
(SOx, NOx, etc.) and the net greenhouse gas (CO2, CH4, etc.)
emissions are decreased.
The co-firing of biomass with coal in traditional coal-fired
boilers makes use of the large investment and extensive
infrastructure associated with the existing fossil-fuel-based
power systems, while requiring only a relatively modest
capital investment, typically up to $50$300 per kW of
biomass capacity. These costs compare very favourably with
any other available renewable energy option.
Power plant operating costs are, in most cases, higher for
biomass than for coal, due to the higher delivered cost of the
fuel, particularly if energy crops are used. Even when the
biomass is nominally free at the point of production, for
instance in the case of some dry agricultural residues, the
costs associated with collection, transportation, preparation,
and on-site handling can increase the cost per unit heat input
to the boiler to a point where it rivals, and often exceeds, the
cost of coal. When compared to alternative renewable energy
sources, however, biomass co-firing is normally significantly
cheaper, and co-firing has the advantage that it can be
implemented relatively quickly.
For most coal-fired power plants, the conversion efficiencies are commonly in the range 3038% (higher heating value
basis). These efficiency levels are much higher than those
associated with smaller, conventional, dedicated biomass
power-only systems and rival or exceed the estimated

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biomass and bioenergy 34 (2010) 620629

100%

cofiring percentage (% heat)

90%
80%
70%

Grate

60%

BFB

50%

CFB
PF

40%
30%
20%
10%
0%
10

100

1,000

10,000

Total fuel input (MW)

Fig. 2 Percentage of biomass co-fired as part of total fuel


in different power plants with experience in biomass
co-firing [12].

efficiencies of most of the proposed, advanced biomass-based


power systems. The addition of biomass to a coal-fired boiler
has only a modest impact on the overall generation efficiency
of the power plant, depending principally on the moisture
content of the biomass.
Most biomass materials have lower ash contents than
steam coals, and there is a corresponding reduction in the
quantities of solid residues from the plant. Ancillary benefits
of co-firing may also include a reduced dependency on
imported fossil fuels, and there may be the potential to
develop local biofuel supply chains, which can benefit local
rural economies. It is clear, therefore, that biomass co-firing
technologies offer one of the best short and long-term means
of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from power generation,
but are only applicable where coal firing plays a significant
role in the electricity supply. The development of small,
dedicated biomass-energy technologies will also be required,
for application where co-firing is not an option.
The R&D demands arising from co-firing cover the proper
selection and further development of appropriate cocombustion technologies for different fuels, possibilities of
NOx reduction by fuel staging, problems concerning the deactivation of catalysts, characterisation and possible utilisation of ashes from co-combustion plants, as well as
corrosion and ash deposition problems.

3.

Operational experience worldwide

Biomass co-firing has been successfully demonstrated in over


228 installations1 worldwide for most combinations of fuels
and boiler types in the range 50700 MWe, although a number
of very small plants have also been involved. More than
a hundred of these were in Europe. In the United States there
have been over 40 commercial demonstrations and the
remainder have been mainly in Australia. A broad
1
The IEA biomass co-firing database included only 152 plants in
2007, but in the database now (May 2009) information for 228
biomass co-firing plants [12] is included.

Fig. 3 Biomass co-firing technologies. a) Direct co-firing. b)


Indirect co-firing. c) Parallel co-firing.

combination of fuels, such as residues, energy crops, herbaceous and woody biomasses have been co-fired in pulverised
coal combustion (PCC), stoker and cyclone boilers. The
proportion of biomass has ranged from 1% to 20%. Experience
with biomass co-firing in PCC boilers has demonstrated that
co-firing woody biomass resulted in a modest decrease in
boiler efficiency but no loss of boiler capacity. There was,
however, a considerable reduction of SO2, NOx and mercury
emissions.
Though herbaceous biomass has been co-fired in several
plant worldwide, its higher inorganic matter content results in
a higher chance of slagging and fouling. Co-firing herbaceous
fuels tends to be more difficult and costly than other fuels, but
it is possible to co-fire such fuels if there is a regulatory
incentive to do so. Throughout the world, coal is used extensively to generate electricity and process heat for industrial

biomass and bioenergy 34 (2010) 620629

623

Fig. 6 Thermal power plant at Lahti (gasifier and PC boiler


systems), Finland.
Fig. 4 Coal based power plant at St. Andra, Austria.

applications. There are significant numbers of coal-fired


utility-scale power plants currently installed in some 80
countries throughout the world. For most of these countries,
coal will continue to figure significantly in any future expansion of the electricity market required to meet increased
consumer demand. In the industrial arena, coal is used as
a source of energy for large energy intensive industries such
as paper production, cement manufacture, food processing
and steel manufacture. Again, there are large numbers of coalfired boiler plants encompassing a range of technologies
already installed throughout the world. The extensive use of
coal poses significant world environmental problems. Power
stations and industrial boilers emit substantial quantities of
CO2, which can contribute to global warning. In addition, they
contribute significant emissions of acid gas species such as
NOx and SO2. The ash produced from coal burning also
requires disposal in an environmentally acceptable manner.
There is now considerable interest in the utilisation of
biomass and municipal/industrial wastes within existing
coal-fired plant. The use of biomass and wastes in such plants
is now perceived by governments and industry as a viable
option. This area is now the subject of a number of ongoing
research activities within the European Union and the USA.
The different sources of statistics on biomass/waste reserves
illustrate that there is an enormous potential reserve of
biomass and wastes that could be utilised for energy

production. The huge installed capacity of existing coal-fired


power plant consumes 50,000 PJ of coal each year; if all were to
be co-fired at a rate of 10% (thermal), this would require 5000 PJ
of biomass/waste per year. The proximity of biomass and
wastes to power stations or other potential co-utilisation sites
will influence the scope of the market. On the basis of this and
the biomass/waste fuel production potential, the co-firing
potential has been estimated at 500 PJ per year in existing
coal-fired generating capacity, equivalent to one tenth of
existing capacity being modified to take 10% thermal input of
biomass. New plants could increase this level further.
Industry and commerce also account for significant coal use
(e.g. 8% of OECD coal use and 30% of Chinas coal use,
excluding iron and steel production). Introduction of a coutilisation element could result in significantly increased
biomass/waste utilisation, perhaps to around 50 PJ or more
per year.
There has been remarkably rapid progress over the past
510 years in the development of the co-utilisation of biomass
materials in coal-fired boiler plants. Several plants have been
retrofitted for demonstration purposes, or are involved in the
commercial co-firing of biomass.

Fig. 5 Thermal power plant at Zeltweg, Styria-Austria.

Fig. 7 Thermal power plant at Ensted, Denmark.

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biomass and bioenergy 34 (2010) 620629

Table 1 Technology assessment table (key indicators).


Technique value

Environmental impact

Sab..g
Operational experience
d

a
Efficiency
e

The majority are pulverised coal boilers, including tangentially fired, wall fired, and cyclone fired units. Bubbling and
circulating fluidised bed boilers and stoker boilers have also been
used. The co-firing activities have involved all of the commercially significant solid fossil fuels, including lignite, sub-bituminous coals, bituminous coals, anthracites, and petroleum coke.
Data based on the IEA Bioenergy Task 32 database [12] on
the number of biomass co-firing power plants by country
worldwide (including in Europe) are shown in Fig. 1.
From these data it is clear that 228 fuel mixed-fired plants
globally already have experience with biomass co-firing, at
least on a trial basis. Most of these plants are located in Finnland, USA, Germany, UK and Sweden, though in several cases
experience in the USA is limited to trials and demonstrations. A
geographical overview of these plants is shown in Fig. 1.
As of 2008, about 40 of these plants were co-firing biomass
on a commercial basis. These plants are mainly located in
Finland and Sweden (mostly fluidised beds), as well as
Denmark and the Netherlands (pulverised coal fired power
plants). This resulted in a replacement of 3.5 Mton of coal and
hence avoided the release of around 10 Mton of CO2. The
estimated technical and financially feasible potential to
replace coal is about 30 times higher.
The amount of biomass that is co-fired in different plants
varies. Pulverised coal boilers are typically much larger in terms
of MW fuel input requirements; therefore the amount of biomass
required for a certain co-firing percentage is usually much larger
than that for, e.g. a bubbling fluidised bed (BFB) boiler.
Achieved co-firing levels for different types of power plants
are shown in Fig. 2.

4.

Successful experience in Europe

4.1.

Biomass co-firing technologies

There are three basic co-firing options for biomass materials


in coal-fired boilers (Fig. 3), and all of these options have been
demonstrated on the industrial scale:
Direct co-firing,
Indirect co-firing,
Parallel co-firing.

4.1.1.

Direct co-firing

Direct co-firing is the least expensive, most straightforward,


and most commonly applied approach. The biomass and the
coal are burned in the coal boiler furnace, using the same or
separate mills and burners (Fig. 3a), depending principally on
the biomass fuel characteristics. This is by far the most

Applicability
New plant

Retrofitable

b
Economics
f

c
Biomass share
g

Remarks

commonly applied co-firing configuration as it enables cofiring percentages up to approx 3% on an energy basis, without
significant investment costs. This approach has been applied
in the power plant at St. Andra in Austria (Fig. 4, 124 MWe, 3%
wood chips).

4.1.2.

Indirect co-firing

It is possible to install a biomass gasifier to convert the solid


biomass into a fuel gas, which can be burned in the coal boiler
furnace (Fig. 3b). This approach can offer a high degree of fuel
flexibility, and the fuel gas can be cleaned prior to combustion
to minimise the impact of the products of combustion of the
fuel gas on the performance and integrity of the boiler. This
approach has been applied several times so far, for instance,
in the Zeltweg plant (Fig. 5) in Austria (137 MWe, 3% wood
biomass) and the Lahti plant (Fig. 6) in Finland (167 MWe, 17%
biomass).

4.1.3.

Parallel co-firing

It is also possible to install a completely separate biomass


boiler and utilise the steam produced in the coal power plant
steam system (Fig. 3c). This approach has been applied in the
Ensted power plant (660 MWe, wood chips and straw) in
Denmark (Fig. 7).

4.2.

Assessment of the technology key indicators

A general assessment of the technology regarding its technological value is based on the sum of points given in the
respective categories.
A points system has been defined to enable comparative
assessment of the technologies (scale from 1 to 3; 3 represents
the best result whereas one point is given for the worst result).
All types of technology have been assessed against the
following parameters:
Environmental impact this indicator defines the impact of
technology implementation on pollutant emission. 1 point was
given if emission parameters deteriorated after the implementation of the technology; 2 points if emissions did not change
or only CO2 and SO2 were reduced due to biomass combustion; 3
points were given for the reduction of NOx emission.
Applicability this indicator defines the ease of technology
application to newly built as well as existing installations
(retrofit). 1 point was given to relatively complex technical
solutions that require modifications of the furnace; 2 points to
relatively complex solutions that do not require modifications
of the furnace.
Operational experience this indicator defines the level of
operational experience for every group of technologies. 1 point
was given to technologies that have been tested experimentally

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biomass and bioenergy 34 (2010) 620629

Table 2 Technology assessment table for direct co-firing in pulverised fuel (PF) boilers.
Key indicators
Technique value

Environmental impact

17
Operational
experience
3

Country

The
Netherlands
The
Netherlands
The
Netherlands
UK
Poland
Poland
Poland

Retrofitable

2
Efficiency

3
Economics

3
Biomass share

Plant name

Output
(Mwe)

Biomas
share
(heat)

Primary
fuel

Cofired
fuel(s)

3%
20%
20%
7% wt
4%

Pulverised coal
Pulverised coal
Pulverised coal
Lignite
Pulverised coal

Wood chips
Straw
Straw
Wood, straw
Sewage sludge

Pulverised coal

Pulverised coal

Kernels, paper
sludge, shells,
fibers
Paper sludge

Hemwegcentrale 8

124
150
350
100
600

Borssele 12

403

Geertruidenberg

Amercentrale 8

600

Maasvlakte,
Rotterdam
Nijmegen

Maasvlaktecentrale
12
Gelderland

2  518

Pulverised coal

Biomass pellets

602

Pulverised coal

Pulverised wood

Skawina

Tilbury
Skawina

1085
590

10%

Pulverised coal
Pulverised coal

Rybnik
Electrabel
Polaniec

1800
1800

10%
10%

Pulverised coal
Pulverised coal

Wood
Sawdust,
coffee shells
Sawdust, chips
Sawdust, chips

Rybnik
Polaniec

ST. Andra
Studstrupvaerket #1
Studstrupvaerket #4

or have only few industrial applications; 3 points were given to


technologies that have been very widely used in industry.
Efficiency this indicator defines the impact of co-firing on
general process efficiency. 1 point was given for negative
impact on boiler efficiency; 2 points were given if an installation was neutral as regards boiler efficiency; 3 points were
given if boiler efficiency was improved.
Economics this indicator defines the total of capital and
operational costs. 1 point was given to very expensive technologies (both as regards capital and operational costs); 2
points were given to technologies characterized by high
capital cost and relatively low operational costs; 3 points were
given to low investment technologies also characterized by
low operational costs.
Biomass share this indicator defines the total biomass
share in the overall quota of all fuels burnt in a given installation. 1 point was given for low biomass share; 3 points for
high biomass share.
All explained above the indicators were collected in corresponding tables (for each technology). An example of
a technology assessment table is shown below (Table 1).

4.3.

Remarks

New plant

Location

Sample Applications EU Countries


Austria
ST. Andra
Denmark
Aarhus
Denmark
Aarhus
Germany
Lubbenau
The
Amsterdam
Netherlands
The
Borssele
Netherlands

Applicability

Co-firing technologies assessment

In order to conduct a comparative assessment of the technologies by the use of the introduced key indicators system,
technology sheets were evaluated.

8%

They comprise important information such as technology


description, simplified process layouts, the implementation
scale and what is of the most importance the technique
value based on the individual score system.

4.3.1.

Identification of successful experience in co-firing

4.3.1.1. Technology: direct co-firing in pulverised


fuel (PF) boilers.
4.3.1.1.1. Technology process description. Direct co-firing
which involves mixing the biomass with coal in the fuel yard,
and transporting the blend through the normal coal system
(crushers, bunkers and pulverisers, if PF boilers are used). The
biofuel can also be prepared separately from coal, and pneumatically or mechanically fed into the boiler without
impacting the fossil fuel delivery system; fuel mixing then
takes place in the combustion chamber (Fig. 3a).
Technology assessment table and sample application in EU
for direct co-firing in pulverised fuel (PF) boilers is shown in
Table 2.

4.3.1.2. Technology: direct co-firing in circulating fluidised bed


(CFB) boilers.
4.3.1.2.1. Technology process description. Circulating fluidised bed (CFB) combustion differs from BFB in two ways. The
bed material particle size is 0.10.6 mm and the fluidising

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biomass and bioenergy 34 (2010) 620629

Table 3 Technology assessment table for direct co-firing in circulating fluidised bed (CFB) boilers.
Key indicators
Technique value

Environmental impact

16
Operational experience
2

Country

Location

Applicability

2
Efficiency
2

Plant name

Output
(MWe)

Remarks

New plant

Retrofitable

3
Economics
3

2
Biomass share
2

Output
(MWth)

Biomas
share
(heat) %

Primary
fuel

Sample applications EU Countries


Austria
Ebensee

38

Coal

Finland
Finland
Finland
Finland

98
18
22
84

Coal
Coal
Coal
Coal

Finland

Finland
Norway
Spain

Kokkola
Kuhmo
Lieska
Mikkeli
Rauhalahti
municipal
CHP
Rauma
Sande
La Pereda

Sweden

Fors

Sweden
Sweden
Sweden

Norrkoping
Nukopoing
stersund
O

100%

Hunosa power
station
Stora Enso
Fors Mill

Lignite, gas, oil,


wood
Peat, RDF, wood
Peat, wood waste
Peat, bark, sawdust
Lignite, wood
waste, oil, gas
Peat, wood waste

Coal

160
26
50
9.6

Cofired fuel(s)

Coal
Coal
Coal

55

90%

Peat, sludge, bark


Wood, RDF
Coal wastes,
wood waste
Wood, bark

Coal

125
80
25

Coal
Coal
Coal

Wood
Wood, peat
Wood, peat,
bark, wood
waste, oil

Table 4 Technology assessment table for direct co-firing in bubbling fluidised bed (BFB) combustion boilers.
Key indicators
Technique value

17
Operational
experience
2

Country

Location

Environmental
impact

Applicability

Remarks

New
plant

Retrofitable

2
Efficiency

3
Economics

2
Biomass share

Plant name

Output
(MWe)

Output
(MWth)

Biomas
share
(heat) %

Primary
fuel

Cofired
fuel(s)

Wood waste,
paper waste
Peat, wood
waste
Peat, wood
waste, HFO
Bark, sludges,
fibre wastes
Peat, wood
waste, HFO

Sample applications EU Countries


Finland
Lohja

Lohja Paper Mill

36

Coal

Finland

Outokumpu

Outokumpo Oy

17.5, 24

Coal

Finland

Pieksamaki

20

Coal

Finland

Rauma

Pieksamaki District
Heating
Rauma Paper Mill

60

Coal

Finland

Seinajoki

Seinajoki Energy

20

Coal

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biomass and bioenergy 34 (2010) 620629

Table 5 Technology assessment table for direct co-firing in grate firing boilers.
Key indicators
Technique value

Environmental impact

12
Operational experience
1

Country

Applicability

1
Efficiency
1

Location

Plant
name

Output
(MWe)

Sweden

Linkoping

Sweden

Linkoping

New plant

Retrofitable

2
Economics
2

2
Biomass share
3

Output
(MWth)

Sample applications EU Countries


Germany
Schwandorf

Remarks

Biomas
share
(heat) %

280
Tekniska
Verken
Ltd 1
Tekniska
Verken
Ltd 2

Primary
fuel

Cofired
fuel(s)

Lignite

Wood, straw
pellets
Rubber waste

Coal

Coal

velocity is 46 m s1. This changes the fluidising conditions


so that part of the bed material is carried out from the bed,
and transits through the furnace to the second pass of the
boiler. These particles exiting the furnace are separated from
the flue gas flow by a cyclone or other separation methods
such as a U beam, and circulated back to the fluidised bed.
The separation can be done in the middle of the second pass
and, in part, also at the outlet of the boiler pass, where
electrostatic precipitators and fabric filters can also be used
(Fig. 3a).
Technology assessment table and sample application in EU
for direct co-firing in circulating fluidised bed (CFB) boilers is
shown in Table 3.

4.3.1.3. Technology: direct co-firing in bubbling fluidised bed


(BFB) combustion boilers.
4.3.1.3.1. Technology process description. Bubbling fluidised
bed (BFB) combustion is a modern combustion technology
especially suitable for inhomogeneous biofuels. A BFB
consists of a 0.51.5 m high bed on the fluidising air distribution plate. The fluidising velocity is about 1 m s1. The density
of the bubbling bed is about 1000 kg m3. Bed materials used
can be sand, ash, fuel, dolomite, limestone, etc. The particle
size distribution in the fluidising bed material is typically
within 0.51.5 mm. Smaller particles will be carried out with
the fluidising gas flow, and larger particles will sink onto the
distribution plate (Fig. 3a).

Table 6 Technology assessment table for indirect co-firing.


Key indicators
Technique value

Environmental impact

18
Operational experience
2

Country

Applicability

3
Efficiency
3

Location

Plant name

New plant

Retrofitable

3
Economics
1

3
Biomass share
3

Remarks

Output
(MWe)

Biomas
share
(heat)

Primary
fuel

Cofired
fuel(s)

3% heat

Bark, sawdust,
wood chips
Wood chips
from recycled
fresh
wood, bark
and hard and soft
board residues
Waste wood

Sample applications EU Countries


Austria
Zeltweg

Biococomb

137

Belgium

Ruien

Ruien

540

Pulverised Polish
hard coal
Pulverised coal

The
Netherlands

Geertruidenberg

Amercentrale 9

600

Pulverised coal

628

biomass and bioenergy 34 (2010) 620629

Table 7 Technology assessment table for parallel co-firing.


Key indicators
Technique value

Environmental impact

15
Operational experience
2

Country

2
Efficiency
2

Location

Sample applications EU Countries


Denmark
ST. Andra
Poland
Trzebinia
Poland
Konin
Poland
Ostroleka

Plant name

Output
(MWe)

Mabjerg
Siersza
Konin
Ostroleka

68
813
233
93,5

Technology assessment table and sample application in EU


for direct co-firing in bubbling fluidised bed (BFB) combustion
boilers is shown in Table 4.

4.3.1.4. Technology: direct co-firing in grate firing boilers.


4.3.1.4.1. Technology process description. The typical operating principle in grate firing of coal may differ for cocombustion of biomass. Sloped grates are typically used for
biofuels. They can be static or mechanically activated. If
travelling grates are used, a homogeneous layer is fed on it. As
an alternative, the fuel can also be fed onto the grate by a socalled spreader located on the furnace wall (spreader-stoker
system). The spreader throws the fuel on the grate against the
direction of grate movement. Thus the longest burning time
can be achieved for the biggest particles, because they are
thrown over a longer distance close to the entry of the travelling grate (Fig. 3a).
Technology assessment table and sample application in EU
for direct co-firing in grate firing boilers is shown in Table 5.

4.3.1.5. Technology: indirect co-firing.


4.3.1.5.1. Technology process description. Indirect co-firing
usually involves gasification of the supplementary fuel in

Applicability
New plant

Retrofitable

3
Economics
2

3
Biomass share
3

Remarks

Biomas share (heat)

Primary fuel

Cofired fuel(s)

8%
10%
10%

Pulverised coal
Pulverised coal
Pulverised coal
Pulverised coal

Straw, wood chips


Straw
Chips, briquet
Chips, barks

a separate gasification facility. The synthesis gases are then


co-combusted in the coal fired furnace. Indirect co-firing is
more suited to fuels containing contaminants such as those
derived from municipal waste streams, since, the synthesis
gas can be purified prior to its use (Fig. 3b).
Technology assessment table and sample application in EU
for indirect co-firing is shown in Table 6.

4.3.1.6. Technology: parallel co-firing and others.


4.3.1.6.1. Technology process description. Co-firing in a hybrid
system is also called parallel co-firing. This involves a number
of boilers supplying steam for a common header and using
fossil and biomass/biogas in the combustion process. In such
an arrangement of boilers there should be no technical
possibility of supplying the biomass combusting boilers with
fossil fuels. Fuel preparation and feeding lines should be
physically independent (Fig. 3c).
Technology assessment table and sample application in EU
for parallel co-firing is shown in Table 7.
The evaluated value of the aggregated index for the technology assessment of different technologies is shown in Fig. 8.
The results of the evaluation show that the highest aggregated value of the indicator is for bubbling fluidised bed (BFB)

Agregated indey (technical value

20
18
16
14
12
10
8
6
4
2
0
In-direct
cofiring

Direct
cofiring

BFB cofiring CFB cofiring

Paralel
cofiring

Grate cofiring

Cofiring technological option


Fig. 8 Comparison of co-firing technologies according to the value of the technical indicator.

biomass and bioenergy 34 (2010) 620629

technology as the best practice for biomass co-firing. This


result confirms the BAT evaluation [13] putting this technology
at the top of all biomass co-firing technical options. At the
moment, fourteen BFB boiler units are operating worldwide
(Forsa Kiimassuo, Fortum Rauhalahti Jyvaskyla, Fortum
Sateri Valkeakoski, Vamy Oy Anjalankoski).

5.

Conclusion

Biomass co-firing in large coal based thermal power plants


gives a considerable opportunity to increase the share of
renewable energy sources in the primary energy balance and
the share of electricity from RES in gross electricity
consumption in the country. Biomass-coal co-firing means
reducing CO2 and SO2, emissions and it may also reduce NOx
emissions and represents a near-term, low-risk, low-cost and
sustainable energy development.
Biomass co-firing has been successfully demonstrated in
over 150 installations worldwide for most combinations of
fuels and boiler types in the range 50700 MWe.
An evaluation of the current/implemented co-firing technology by key indicators showed that in-direct co-firing is the
best technology followed by direct co-firing in pulverised
fluidised (PF), bubbling fluidised bed (BFB), and circulating
fluidised bed (CFB) boilers. The fluidised bed combustion
process provides excellent conditions for burning a wide
variety of different fuels efficiently with low emissions.

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629

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