Costs of Biomass Power
The existing biopower sector, nearly 1,000 plants, is mainly comprised of direct-combustion plants, with an additional small amount of cofiring (six operating plants). Plant size averages 20 megawatts electric (MWe), and the biomass-to-electricity conversion efficiency is about 20%. Grid-connected electrical capacity has increased from less than 200 MWe in 1978 to over 6500 MWe in 2000. More than 75% of this power is generated in the forest products industry's CHP applications for process heat. Wood-fired systems account for close to 95% of this capacity. In addition, about 3,300 MWe of municipal solid waste and landfill gas generating capacity exists. Recent studies estimate that on a life-cycle basis, existing biopower plants represent an annual net carbon sink of 4 MMTCe. Prices generally range from 8¢/kWh to 12¢/kWh.
The charts below represent expected biomass power technology performance and cost.