Cofiring is a near term, low-cost option for efficiently and cleanly converting biomass to electricity by adding biomass as a partial substitute fuel in high-efficiency coal boilers.
Biomass co-firing is the practice of substituting a part of the fuel with biomass at coal thermal plants.
Biomass co-firing stands for adding biomass as a partial substitute fuel in high efficiency coal boilers.
Coal and biomass are combusted together in boilers that have been designed to burn coal. For this purpose, the existing coal power plant has to be partly reconstructed and retrofitted.
Co-firing is an option to convert biomass to electricity, in an efficient and clean way, and to reduce GHG (Green house Gases) emissions of the power plant.
Biomass co-firing is a globally accepted cost-effective method for decarbonising a coal fleet.
India is a country where biomass is usually burnt on the field which reflects apathy towards resolving the problem of clean coal using a very simple solution that is readily available.
Significance of Biomass cofiring
Biomass co-firing is an effective way to curb emissions from open burning of crop residue, it also decarbonises the process of electricity generation using coal.
Substituting 5-7 % of coal with biomass in coal-based power plants can save 38 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.
It can help cut emissions from combustion of fossil fuels, address India’s burgeoning problem of farm stubble burning to some extent, reduce waste burden while also creating jobs in rural areas.
India has large biomass availability as well as rapid growth in coal-fired capacity.
Challenges of Biomass cofiring
Substituting 5-7% of coal with biomass in coal-based power plants can save 38 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, but the existing infrastructure is not robust enough to turn this into reality.
Around 95,000-96,000 tonnes of biomass pellets are required per day for co-firing, But India’s pellet manufacturing capacity is 7,000 tonnes per day at present despite a surplus 228 million tonnes of agricultural residue available in the country.
This huge gap is due to the seasonal availability and unreliable supply of biomass pellets to the utility.
It is challenging to store biomass pellets for long durations at the plant sites since they absorb moisture from air quickly, rendering them useless for co-firing.
Only pellets with up to 14% of moisture can be used for combustion along with coal.
Biomass is plant or animal material used as fuel to produce electricity or heat. Examples are wood, energy crops and waste from forests, yards, or farms.
Biomass has always been an important energy source for the country considering the benefits it offers.
It is renewable, widely available, carbon-neutral and has the potential to provide significant employment in the rural areas.
It is also capable of providing firm energy. About 32% of the total primary energy use in the country is still derived from biomass and more than 70% of the country’s population depends upon it for its energy needs.
Biomass power & cogeneration programme:
Initiated by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.
For efficient utilization of biomass, bagasse based cogeneration in sugar mills and biomass power generation have been taken up under the programme.
Biomass materials used for power generation include Rice husk, straw, cotton stalk, coconut shells, soya husk, de-oiled cakes, coffee waste, jute wastes, groundnut shells, saw dust etc.
Promoting technologies for optimum use of the country’s biomass resources for grid power generation.