Small scale gasification. by Neal Van Milligen, Manager, Bioten Power and Energy Group, Gasification Division
While renewable energy is one of the most environmentally responsible courses for consumers, the same technology which provides green power can be profitable as a traditional power source as well.
Renewable energy portfolios are being mandated worldwide resulting in comfortable returns on $.12 USD/ kW and more on $.15 USD/ kW green energy programs. However, a large number of remote operations are paying more than double that amount for standard energy rates.
$.12/ kW electrical rates can result in more than $250,000 net profit, before capital, interest and taxes, on a simple 500 kW power plant with less than 5 year payback. As the power generation rate increases the net return increases more than linearly due to economies of scale with equipment and labor. This results in significant returns for modest sized renewable energy power plants producing “Green” power.
Even considering the social and environmental impact of green power, traditional power sources can supply power to projects which are willing and able to pay $.25/ kW with substantial returns to project owners. At this power rate a 500 kW project will net more than $800,000 USD annually with a 2 year payback.
The keys to making these projects profitable are the site, power purchase agreement, fuel supply and power technology.
Gasification is the combustion of biomass fuel in an oxygen deprived environment which produces a combustible gas. Since a wide variety of fuels can be used in the power production process the systems can be part of a landfill diversion program, fire damaged forest remediation, biomass recycling using manures, rice hulls, food processing waste and other economical sources of clean fuel.
Since the producer gas from this system is consumed by a power generator there are very little emissions exposed to the open air. While typical BTU content of the gas produced is less than propane it still provides a combustible fuel for various generator styles. These include many types of reciprocating engines as well as turbines of all sizes.
Power generation projects can be designed to provide automatic feeding, operations and ash cleanout. Remote monitoring of operations can supplement the local operators’ skills and enhance performance. These features enhance the attraction of the system for remote sites as well as locations with limited skilled labor available.
1 kg of dry fuel can be expected to produce 1 kW of electrical output with enough surplus heat to distill 10 gallons of clean water. The technology provides for several human needs. It can supply heat, clean water, electricity, human sanitation and economic development. When the fuel can be waste products from other activities we find that human habitation supplies much of the fuel itself.
Typical equipment costs of $2400 per kW fully installed are available. Economies can be achieved through local sourcing of some of the equipment. Power plant sizes can be from 5 kW to 1 MW in modular components. Larger systems can be engineered as needed.
By increasing options for power production equipment at various levels of electrical output the gasification technology becomes the most flexible and economical of currently available systems worldwide.
Bioten Power and Energy Group
Neal Van Milligen, Manager