According to a new report from ecoprog, in early 2017, there were 3,510 operational biomass power plants worldwide, generating electricity and heat from solid biomass and with a total installed capacity of 52.8 GW. By the end of 2017, ecoprog estimates that there will be around 3,700 active power plants, with a capacity of some 56.2 GW. In just one year, 200 biomass power plants with a capacity of almost 3 GW were commissioned. While Europe showed a slight decrease in newly commissioned biomass power plants over the past year, Asia’s commissioning rate remains at a high level. In North America, low electricity prices have resulted in commissioning insecurities, with the commissioning rate slowing in 2016/2017. The attractive incentive scheme in Japan resulted in a growing commissioning rate in the Australia and Pacific region. At the same time, consolidation and globalisation continued among the technology providers in 2017.
The market for biomass power plants, the number of plants and their respective capacities, is a result of the subsidisation schemes and the availability of positive economic conditions at favourable locations, e.g. in the sugar or the paper industry. Regions with high political subsidies in the form of feed-in tariffs have comparatively young plant assets that are characterised by small-scale plants. This is the case in most European countries. Today, many systems primarily subsidise small-scale plants due to ecological sustainability. Europe’s plants are therefore on average smaller than in other regions such as North America. By contrast, fuel availability is the determining factor in North and South America as well as in many Asian markets, as subsidisation levels are often lower than in Europe.
North America and Europe mainly use wood to generate energy, while South American countries primarily incinerate bagasse, a waste product of the sugarcane industry. Agricultural residues such as straw, rice husks and empty fruit bunches from the palm oil industry represent the main fuels in Asia. Read more…
Article published in: FuturENERGY March 2018