Swedish utility Vattenfall is exploring the possibility of building up to ten new stand-alone biomass plants before 2020. These plants could contribute to reducing C02 exposure and maintaining power supply security.

It is believed that the plants would use about 1.7 million tonnes biomass per year and produce 4.5 TWh. They woudl therefore contribute significantly to Vattenfall’s target for increased biomass use.

Materials research is essential for higher electrical efficiency in biomass plants.

Stand-alone plants can be run on local and regional biomass fuels that are often not suitable for co-combustion in plants fired by hard coa, so the costs are usually lower. They are also a viable option for heating at the district level, where the fuel can be used with a high total efficiency to produce both electricity and heat. New biomass plants can replace old fossil-fired units, and so making it possible for Vattenfall to offer “green heat”.

An added encouragement is that there are several incentive schemes for stand-alone biomass plants in all Vattenfall’s core markets.

To this end the company is now working on R&D projects in several areas to support biomass investment projects by achieving cost-efficiency. One such R&D area is the development of fuel-flexible plants, for which costs and technology can adapt to variations in the fuel market.