Techno-economic Analysis of Small Scale Electricity Generation from the Lignocellulosic Biomass

Document Type: Research Paper


Department of Chemical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, University of Maragheh


In this study, the techno-economic analysis of lignocellulosic biomass conversion to electricity in a small scale power plant was conducted. The proposed process is based on the thermal pathway of electricity production from a carbon content feed. Woods, forest and agricultural residues were considered as the biomass feed, which are available extensively in Iran. Besides, the process benefits not only from the maturity of the method and non-selectivity toward feed but also carbon neutrality and CO2 emission credit income. In order to estimate the minimum selling price (MSP) of the product by this process, the bare module cost model was used. Various equipment sizes were determined by mass and energy balances, whereas the studied power plant capacities were considered 0.5, 1, 5 and 10 MW. The model estimated that the product MSP were 5.83, 4.16, 1.99 and 1.58 ¢/kWh for 0.5, 1, 5 and 10 MW capacities, respectively. Furthermore, a sensitivity analysis was performed to investigate the relative significance of economic parameters on the MSP. The feed, transport, purchased equipment costs and CO2 emission credit income were considered as the sensitivity analysis parameters. Results have proved that the MSP was mainly impacted by the CO2 emission credit income.


[1] Faaij, A. (2006). “Modern biomass conversion technologies. Mitigation and adaptation strategies for global change.” Vol. 11, No. 2, pp. 343-375.
[2] Arnell, N. W. (2004). “Climate change and global water resources: SRES emissions and socio-economic scenarios.” Global environmental change, Vol. No. 1, pp. 31-52.
[3] Herzog, T. (2009). “World greenhouse gas emissions in 2005.” World Resources Institute.
[4] McCarthy, J. J., Canziani, O. F., Leary, N. A., Dokken, D. J. and White, K. S. (Eds.). (2001). Climate change 2001: impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability: contribution of Working Group II to the third assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Vol. 2). Cambridge University Press.
[5] Strzalka, R., Schneider, D. and Eicker, U. (2017). “Current status of bioenergy technologies in Germany.” Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Vol. 72, pp. 801-820.
[6] Bridgwater, A. V. (1995). “The technical and economic feasibility of biomass gasification for power generation.” Fuel, Vol. 74, No. 5, pp. 631-653.
[7] Buragohain, B., Mahanta, P., & Moholkar, V. S. (2010). “Biomass gasification for decentralized power generation: The Indian perspective.” Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Vol. 14, No. 1, pp. 73-92.
[8] Herran, D. S. and Nakata, T. (2012). “Design of decentralized energy systems for rural electrification in developing countries considering regional disparity.” Applied Energy, Vol. 91, No. 1, pp. 130-145.
[9] Passey, R., Spooner, T., MacGill, I., Watt, M. and Syngellakis, K. (2011). “The potential impacts of grid-connected distributed generation and how to address them: A review of technical and non-technical factors.” Energy Policy, Vol. 39, NO. 10, PP. 6280-6290.
[10] González, A., Riba, J. R., Puig, R. and Navarro, P. (2015). “Review of micro-and small-scale technologies to produce electricity and heat from Mediterranean forests ׳ wood chips.” Renewable
and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Vol. 43, pp. 143-155.
[11] Zhang, K., Chang, J., Guan, Y., Chen, H., Yang, Y. and Jiang, J. (2013). “Lignocellulosic biomass gasification technology in China.” Renewable Energy, Vol. 49, 175-184.
[12] Nussbaumer, T. (2003). “Combustion and co-combustion of biomass: fundamentals, technologies, and primary measures for emission reduction.” Energy & Fuels, Vol. 17, No. 6, pp. 1510-1521.
[13] Dasappa, S., Subbukrishna, D. N., Suresh, K. C., Paul, P. J. and Prabhu, G. S. (2011). “Operational experience on a grid connected 100 kWe biomass gasification power plant in Karnataka, India.” Energy for sustainable development, Vol. 15, No. 3, pp. 231-239.
[14] Elliott, T. P. (1994). “Brazilian biomass power demonstration project.” Energy for Sustainable Development, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 41-43.
[15] Kirjavainen, M., Sipilä, K., Savola, T., Salomón Popa, M. and Alakangas, E. (2004). Small-scale biomass CHP technologies: Situation in Finland, Denmark and Sweden.
[16] Sookkumnerd, C., Ito, N. and Kito, K. (2007). “Feasibility of husk-fuelled steam engines as prime mover of grid-connected generators under the Thai very small renewable energy power producer (VSPP) program.” Journal of Cleaner Production, Vol. 15, No. 3, pp. 266-274.
[17] Wu, C. Z., Yin, X. L., Ma, L. L., Zhou, Z. Q. and Chen, H. P. (2009). “Operational characteristics of a 1.2-MW biomass gasification and power generation plant.” Biotechnology Advances, Vol. 27, No. 5, pp. 588-592.
[18] Bergqvist, M. M., Samuel Wårdh, K., Das, A. and Ahlgren, E. O. (2008). “A techno‐economic assessment of rice husk‐based power generation in the Mekong River Delta of Vietnam.” International Journal of Energy Research, Vol. 32, No. 12, pp. 1136-1150.
[19] Obernberger, I. (1998). “Decentralized biomass combustion: state of the art and future development1.” Biomass and Bioenergy, Vol. 14, No. 1, pp. 33-56.
[20] Mehrabian, R., Shiehnejadhesar, A., Scharler, R. and Obernberger, I. (2014). “Multi-physics modelling of packed bed biomass combustion.” Fuel, Vol. 122, pp. 164-178.
[21] Koppejan, J. and Van Loo, S. (2012). The handbook of biomass combustion and co-firing. Routledge, London.
[22] Natarajan, E., Nordin, A. and Rao, A. N. (1998). “Overview of combustion and gasification of rice husk in fluidized bed reactors.” Biomass and Bioenergy, Vol. 14, No. 5-6, pp. 533-546.
[23] Bain, R. L., Overend, R. P. and Craig, K. R. (1997). “Biomass-fired power generation.” Fuel processing technology, Vol. 54, No. 1, pp. 1-16.
[24] Ruiz, J. A., Juárez, M. C., Morales, M. P., Muñoz, P. and Mendívil, M. A. (2013). “Biomass gasification for electricity generation: review of current technology barriers.” Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Vol. 18, pp. 174-183.
[25] Turton, R., Bailie, R. C., Whiting, W. B. and Shaeiwitz, J. A. (2008). Analysis, synthesis and design of chemical processes. Pearson Education.
[26] Aden, A. Ruth, M., Ibsen, K., Jechura, J. Neeves, K., Sheehan, J., Wallace, B., Montague, L., Slayton, A. and Lukas, J. (2002) “Lignocellulosic biomass to ethanol process design and economics utilizing co-current dilute acid prehydrolysis and enzymatic hydrolysis for corn stover. (No. NREL/TP-510-32438).” National renewable energy lab golden co.
[27] Peters, M. S., Timmerhaus, K. D., West, R. E., Timmerhaus, K. and West, R. (1968). Plant design and economics for chemical engineers (Vol. 4). New York: McGraw-Hill.
[28] Basu, P., Butler, J. and Leon, M. A. (2011). “Biomass co-firing options on the emission reduction and electricity generation costs in coal-fired power plants.” Renewable energy, Vol. 36, No. 1, pp. 282-288.
[29] Sokhansanj, S., Mani, S., Turhollow, A., Kumar, A., Bransby, D., Lynd, L. and Laser, M. (2009). “Large‐scale production, harvest and logistics of switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.)–current technology and envisioning a mature technology.” Biofuels, Bioproducts and Biorefining, Vol. 3, No. 2, pp. 124-141.
[30] Sims, R. E., Rogner, H. H. and Gregory, K. (2003). “Carbon emission and mitigation cost comparisons between fossil fuel, nuclear and renewable energy resources for electricity generation.” Energy policy, Vol. 31, No. 13, pp. 1315-1326.