IRENA Report Discusses Cost and Potential of Biomass Power Technologies and Feedstocks

IRENA6 June 2012: The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has released a report titled "Renewable Energy Technologies: Cost Analysis Series – Biomass for Power Generation," which finds that the cost of biomass power technologies varies widely, yet the use of low-cost feedstocks can make these technologies very competitive with conventional power sources. 

Providing an overview of several biomass power generation technologies, including stoker boilers, bubbling and circulating fluidized boilers, gasification technologies and co-firing, the report finds that total installed costs vary significantly by technology and country, due to different stages of development and deployment. On feedstocks, the report finds that while costs can be zero when wastes that would otherwise be disposed are used, costs increase rapidly when agricultural residues need to be transported over large distances.

The report further discusses the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) of biomass power, and calculated that when low-cost residues and wastes are available, biomass can compete with conventional power sources. The report mentions that even when costs are higher, the LCOE range for biomass is still more competitive than for diesel-fired generation, which makes it very suitable for off-grid or mini-grid electricity supply.

The report is part of IRENA's Renewable Energy Technologies: Cost Analysis Series, a set of five reports on wind, biomass, hydropower, concentrating solar power and solar pholtovoltaics that address the current costs of key renewable power technology options. [IRENA Press Release] [Publication: Renewable Energy Technologies: Cost Analysis Series – Biomass for Power Generation]