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Global Futures Report 2013 - Biomass Power and Heat

58 RENEWABLES GLOBAL FUTURES REPORT 06 EVOLUTION OF TECHNOLOGIES, COSTS, AND GLOBAL Market Growth The IEA ETP (2010) “Technology Roadmap” envisions continued innovation in CSP though 2020, and then envisions a number of specific innovations during 2020–2030, including higher working temperatures (higher efficiency), larger storage capacities, super- critical plants, desalination by co-generation, and tower plants with air receivers and gas turbines. The roadmap envisions networks of HVDC transmission lines to bring CSP power from remote areas, and increased policy support and incentives as costs become closer to competitive. Beyond 2030, incentives may no longer be needed, and solar CSP storage makes major contributions to balancing power grids. The roadmap concludes that, “in the sunniest countries, CSP can be expected to become a competitive source of bulk power in peak and intermediate loads by 2020, and of base-load power by 2025 to 2030.”40 But CSP also faces headwinds, according to experts, including: (1) cheaper competing solar PV costs if CSP storage and other attri- butes are discounted; (2) land and water use (although hybrid dry/ wet cooling can be used in areas with limited water resources); and (3) transmission access in remote desert regions. In particular, there was much disagreement about the future competitiveness of CSP versus solar PV. CSP plants can offer many hours of energy storage that solar PV cannot, and this was frequently cited as a key asset for CSP plants, relative to solar PV. With enough storage, a CSP plant can offer all the capabilities of a conventional generator, providing firm dispatchable power, as well as grid balancing, spinning reserve, and ancillary services, but with even greater flexibility than a con- ventional fossil fuel or nuclear plant.41 Experts stressed that part of CSP technology evolution will take the form of novel applications, some of which are emerging already. Such applications include: (1) managing grid variability and provid- ing peak power using thermal energy storage embedded within the CSP plant; (2) dedicated CSP plants powering desalination plants in coastal areas; (3) embedded CSP plants in industrial facilities to pro- vide power and industrial process heat; (4) pre-heating feed-water for a coal power plant to reduce coal consumption; (4) integration with combined-cycle natural gas plants (already occurring); and (5) producing gas or liquid fuels including hydrogen.42 Biomass Power and Heat Many biomass experts interviewed believed that biomass’ main con- tribution in the long term will be to heat supply, and that markets for biomass will gravitate toward both combined-heat-and-power (CHP) and heat-only systems, along with co-production of gas and liquid fuels. For example, one expert projected that, “by 2050, renewables will provide more than 80% of global heat supply, half of that from biomass. However, the IEA (WEO, 2010) foresaw more biomass use for power generation: “Global modern primary biomass consumption nearly triples between 2008 and 2035 … most of the increase in bio- mass comes from the electricity sector and transportation. By 2035, power generation becomes the largest biomass-consuming sector.” The GEA (2012) projects that bioenergy use of all forms doubles or triples by 2050, for power, heat, and transport, including co-pro- cessing with coal or natural gas with carbon capture and storage.43 (See also Box 4 on page 26.) Experts viewed the future of biomass from four distinct view- points: n Fuel supplies. A breakthrough in biomass demand could come as biomass becomes a mainstream commodity in commercial markets in standard forms like pellets or bio-heating oil (from pyrolysis/ torrefaction), said experts. In particular, they expected pellets to become a widespread commodity, efficiently transported interna- tionally. And while some experts questioned how much biomass could be produced given competition for land and food, others saw no real limits because of the huge resources available from agri- cultural and forest wastes, and from new approaches to growing biomass crops on surplus land.44 n Technical conversion pathway/process. Most biomass used today is simply burned for heat and power. The second most com- mon process is anaerobic conversion to biogas. Experts foresaw increased production of biogas from sewage plants, manure, and organic waste, and cheaper biogas plants made with new materials. Some also saw new applications for the biogas: “Biogas will be used for transport, as it doesn’t need to be cleaned for use in a vehicle engine to the same extent it needs to be clean for a gas turbine,” said one expert. Some foresaw much greater use of thermal gasifi- cation, while others questioned whether gasification would achieve wide scope.45 n Heating technologies. Experts envisioned much greater use of biomass heating technologies, including CHP plants, district heating systems, cooling systems for commercial and public buildings, and industrial process heat. Future CHP systems might predominantly fall into the “small or medium scale” of 5–10 MW, but also at smaller sizes of 1 MW, or larger sizes up to 100 MW.46 n Integration into agricultural and forestry industries through integrated “bio-refineries.” According to some experts, the future would see fewer stand-alone bioenergy production sites, and rather would trend toward multi-purpose co-production systems, which co-produce biofuels, sugar, electricity, and biogas, and also utilize leftover waste for fertilizer, chemicals, biofuels, animal feed, and other chemicals. These “integrated bio-refineries” could become part of the food system by 2020, and lead to integrated “bio-based” industries for food, fuels, chemicals, textiles, paper, and other products.47 Biomass applications are extremely diverse, and so few generaliza- tions can be made about costs. Greenpeace (2012) characterizes costs in this way: “The crucial factor for the economics of biomass utilization is the cost of the feedstock, which today ranges from a negative cost for waste wood … through inexpensive residual mate- rials to the more expensive energy crops. The resulting spectrum of energy generation costs is correspondingly broad. One of the most economic options is the use of waste wood in … CHP plants. Gasification of solid biomass, on the other hand, which opens up a

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