Our Research and Development (R&D) work in the biomass field focuses on ensuring sustainable sourcing of the right renewable fuels and to optimise the boiler conversion to biomass.
R&D is also important for optimising present operations of biomass and waste fired boilers. Vattenfall has long experience in using biomass and waste for heat and power – and can still improve operations in this area with the right R&D efforts.
Prioritised areas for our R&D efforts:
Cost-effective replacement of coal by biomass in coal boilers by optimising the fuel handling, the combustion properties and the emission control systems.
Increase production availability in boilers using biomass by minimising slagging fouling and corrosion.
- Health and safety aspects in handling of biomass, minimised risks of self-ignition, dust explosions and similar undesired accidents in the plant.
- Increase fuel flexibility in all biomass-fired boilers.
- Improved biomass qualities for a fast and low cost replacement of coal.
Improved biomass utilisation at Vattenfall
Biomass R&D results have been beneficial in recent projects such as:
- Conversion of Amager 1 in Denmark from coal to 100 per cent biomass
- Implementation of a 15 per cent and 40 per cent replacement of hard coal by biomass in Moabit plant (Berlin) via co-combustion
- Broadening the biomass fuel mix in Nyköping (Sweden) CHP
R&D is also an important element for on-going and upcoming projects – recent examples include best available technologies and fuel flexibility for planned 100 per cent biomass based CHP plants in Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands.
In preparation for the co-combustion of biomass as steps towards the 100 per cent replacement of coal, there is a considerable need for R&D-based solutions. For instance, our power plant in Hemweg, Holland has an advanced pulverised fuel boiler and thorough optimisation work regarding fuel quality and plant modification will be needed to maintain the production capacity and electrical efficiency when starting the conversion to biomass.
Great potential in CO2 reduction
The replacement of coal with biomass is one of the quickest ways to achieve a substantial reduction of fossil CO2 emissions. On average, each tonne of biomass used in a coal plant reduces the CO2 emission by approximately two tonnes.
At present (2013), the low CO2 price and the lack of economic and political steering mechanisms for large scale biomass based solutions in Germany and the Netherlands makes the competitiveness of these solutions against fossil alternatives low.
Despite this situation, Vattenfall works continuously to eliminate possible technical challenges in the replacement of coal with biomass, and prepares for a fast and safe introduction of biomass on a large scale when the steering mechanisms change.
In the longer term, adding large quantities of biomass energy to the fuel mix in hard-coal plants will result in a number of issues. In addition to the topics related to sustainable and cost-effective sourcing of suitable biomass volumes, the more technical topics such as storage, combustion, boiler performance and the by-products quality will be in focus.