Economic scales for first-generation biomass-gasifier/gas turbine combined cycles fueled from energy plantations

E. D. Larson, C. I. Marrison

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This paper assesses the scales at which commercial, first-generation biomass integrated-gasifler/gas turbine combined cycle (BIG/GTCC) technology is likely to be most economic when fueled by plantation-derived biomass. First-generation BIG/GTCC systems are likely to be commercially offered by vendors beginning around 2000 and will be based on either pressurized or atmospheric-pressure gasification. Both plant configurations are considered here, with estimates of capital and operating costs drawn from published and other sources. Prospective costs of a farm-grown energy crop (switchgrass) delivered to a power plant are developed with the aid of a geographic information system (GlS)for agricultural regions in the North Central and Southeast US in the year 2000 and 2020. A simplified approach is applied to estimate the cost of delivering chipped eucalyptus from an existing plantation in Northeast Brazil. The "optimum" capacity (MWopt), defined as that which yields the minimum calculated cost of electricity (COEm), varies by geographic region due to differences in delivered biomass costs. With pressurized BIG/GTCC plants, MWopt is in the range of 230-320 MWefor the sites considered, assuming most of the land around the power plant is farmed for energy crop production. For atmosphericpressure BIG/GTCC plants, MWopl ranges from 110 to 142 MWe. When a lower fraction of the land around a plant is used for energy farming, values for MWopt are smaller than these. In all cases, the cost of electricity is relatively insensitive to plant capacity over a wide range around MWopt.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)285-290
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Engineering for Gas Turbines and Power
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
  • Fuel Technology
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Mechanical Engineering


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