Biomass power: costs, levelized costs and BECCS?

This model captures the costs of biomass power, from wood pellets to BECCS. A levelized cost of 13c/kWh is necessary for a new 100MW plant, with capex costs of $1,700/kW and burning $150/ton wood pellets to earn a 10% IRR while generating electricity. Please download the data-file to stress test biomass power costs.

A greenfield biomass plant needs a 13c/kWh power price for a 10% IRR. This is pricey, equivalent to a CO2 cost above c$200/ton. Cash operating costs for biomass power are likely around 8c/kWh, in our build up.

Our base case assumptions reflect a 100MW facility, with 40% efficiency, burning pellets costing $120/ton. Although we would note that some past projects have been smaller, less efficient and paid $140-210/ton for pellets. These numbers can be stress-tested in the data-file.

CO2 credentials are debatable. Burning wood emits 1.2 tons of CO2 per MWH. This is 3x more than a MWH of gas-power. 90% of biomass CO2 emissions could have been avoided if trees were left standing or waste wood was landfilled. Our merit order for wood uses is discussed here.

What are the costs of biomass pellets? One of the tabs of the model builds up the economics and derives a cost of $120/ton, to earn a 10% IRR on a pellet mill with a capex of $80/Tpa. Economics are also sensitive to energy prices due to the energy consumption of dry wet biomass in the pelletization process.

What are the costs of BECCS? BECCS adds CCS onto a wood-burning power plant. We can get to power costs in the range of 20-30c/kWh, however this is after unavoidably heavy energy penalties and requires extensive gas clean-up to avoid combustion contaminants from degrading amines.

Data are also aggregated on the generation and efficiency of c340 woody-biomass power plants constructed to-date in the United States; and on the energy contents of different biomass fuels, from straw, to wet wood, to dry wood to pellets.

Please download the data-file to stress test biomass power costs and run your own input-output analysis.

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