July 16, 2012, London, UK — EU member states should promote the use of biomass-fuelled combined heat and power (CHP) plants and district heating facilities as Europe struggles to deal with growing demand for heat, according to the European Biomass Association (AEBIOM).
A recently published report by the industry association body for district heating, Euroheat and Power, indicated Europe could save €14bn/yr ($17.2bn/yr) if policymakers fully utilize district heating capacity and the heat offtake from current and future CHP plants. The overall savings are compared with the EU's energy roadmap 2050 and include the cost of importing feedstocks to generate heat.
“The heat roadmap highlights that promoting CHP and district heating would save money and reduce emissions,” AEBIOM president Gustav Melin said. “The need for electricity in Europe is approximately one-third of the need for heat. This fits well with CHP when often one-third of the energy used becomes power and the rest is often wasted.”
Germany's biomass power market is driven by a feed-in tariff mechanism and is an example of a member state that supports CHP. But CHP plants are only given support up to 20MW, and new plants from 2012 are required to have a minimum 60pc heat offtake to receive the subsidy.
Based on current coal and wood pellet prices delivered into northwest Europe, a biomass plant with an efficiency of 38pc is still not competitive enough to compete with coal-fired generation. For a CHP plant with efficiency over 46pc, the economics start to favour wood pellets. But German plants have found it difficult to find heat offtakers, which has restricted the success of the country's policy.
This issue is recognized by AEBIOM, which said greater knowledge is needed. “Using wasted heat in electricity production fulfills energy efficiency goals and is profitable but the lack of knowledge, planning permission and mind set remain the obstacles,” Melin said.
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