Aspects of using biomass as energy source for power generation

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Biomass represents an important source of renewable energy in Romania with about 64% of the whole available green energy. Being a priority for the energy sector worldwide, in our country the development stage is poor compared to solar and wind energy. Biomass power plants offer great horizontal economy development, local and regional economic growth with benefic effects on life standard. The paper presents an analysis on biomass to power conversion solutions compared to fossil fuels using two main processes: combustion and gasification. Beside the heating value, which can be considerably higher for fossil fuels compared to biomass, a big difference between fossil fuels and biomass can be observed in the sulphur content. While the biomass sulphur content is between 0 and approximately 1%, the sulphur content of coal can reach 4%. Using coal in power plants requires important investments in installations of flue gas desulfurization. If limestone is used to reduce SO2 emissions, then additional carbon dioxide moles will be released during the production of CaO from CaCO3. Therefore, fossil fuels not only release a high amount of carbon dioxide through burning, but also through the caption of sulphur dioxide, while biomass is considered CO2 neutral. Biomass is in most of the cases represented by residues, so it is a free fuel compared to fossil fuels. The same power plant can be used even if biomass or fossil fuels is used as a feedstock with small differences. The biomass plant could need a drying system due to high moisture content of the biomass, while the coal plant will need a desulfurization installation of flue gas and additional money will be spent with fuel purchasing.

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