A recent study concludes that burning biomass in place of coal, such as Portland General Electric is considering for its Boardman power plant, can be cost-effective.
The study, published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, looked at replacing all or part of the coal supplying power plants in Ontario, Canada, and it found that co-firing with wood pellets and coal was a realistic way to reduce a plant’s greenhouse gas emissions.
A mix of 90 percent coal, 10 percent pellets would increase the cost of electricity from the two test plants’ by 0.6 and 0.9 cents per kilowatt hour, the study says, while significantly reducing the amount of climate-changing gasses they produce.
“If 10% co-firing were to be implemented in all coal (plants) in the United States and Canada, electricity generation from biomass could contribute approximately 4% of annual generation of the two countries (185 of 4660 TWh), reducing GHG emissions by 170 million metric tons/year, 5% of emissions from the two countries’ electricity sectors,” the study says.
Read about PGE’s plans for biomass at its Boardman coal-fired power plant here.
“The results suggest that electricity produced from biomass in existing coal GS should be considered, along with other alternatives, as a means of achieving near-term GHG reductions,” it says.
But there are limits to how many pellets forests can sustainable supply, the study cautions.
(Hat tip to Green Inc.)
Matthew Preusch, The Oregonian – http://www.oregonlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2010/02/study_suggests_burning_wood_pe.html