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Combined Heat and Power Partnership

Biomass CHP

Biomass CHP Tools and Resources

In 2001, Weyerhaeuser Company installed an 88 megawatt (MW) CHP system fueled almost entirely by biomass at its bleached pulp mill in Hawesville, Kentucky. Pulp and paper biomass represents 96 percent of the fuel used in the CHP system, and natural gas accounts for the remaining 4 percent. EPA awarded the system with a 2005 ENERGY STAR® CHP Award.

Aerial view of installation

The use of renewable fuels for power generation is on the rise, an increase that can be attributed to the price surge and volatility of traditional fuels, as well as a general desire to use more environmentally friendly materials for power generation. Wind, solar, and biomass are experiencing strong market growth, but of these renewable energy sources, only biomass can be used to efficiently produce both heat and power, by fueling a combined heat and power (CHP) system.

One cost-effective approach to sourcing biomass for CHP is to use opportunity fuels—waste materials from agricultural or industrial processes that are available at or close to the CHP site. Utilizing these opportunity fuels may have additional benefits, including displacing purchased fossil fuel, freeing up landfill space, and reducing tipping fees associated with waste disposal. Opportunity fuels include:

  • Biomass such as wood and wood wastes, sawdust, and combustible agricultural wastes.
  • Biogas created in anaerobic digesters from the breakdown of organic matter such as wastewater sludge or farm waste.
  • Black liquor: a byproduct of the pulping process.

Considerations for a Successful Biomass CHP Project

  • Proximity to fuel source: Biomass is most economical as a fuel source when the CHP system is located at or close to the biomass fuel stock. In some cases, the availability of biomass in a location may prompt the search for an appropriate thermal host for a CHP application. In other circumstances, a site may be driven by a need for energy savings to search for biomass fuel within a reasonable radius of the facility.
  • Portfolio Standards: States can use portfolio standards to increase the adoption of renewable energy generation, energy efficiency, and other clean energy technologies. Biomass-fueled CHP represents a permissible renewable energy resource in all renewable portfolio standards. In some states, renewable energy credits can be generated from the use of biomass to power a CHP system, which can provide projects with an additional revenue stream.
  • Grants, loans, or tax credits: Biofueled CHP projects often qualify for additional state incentives that traditional CHP systems are ineligible to receive. Financing is often available for biomass/biogas projects and/or CHP projects through federal, state, and local grants, loans, or tax credits.

Additional Resources

The following resources provide further insights into the benefits and possibilities for CHP fueled by biomass or biogas resources.

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