Global biopower capacity ‘will double by 2025’

Global biopower installed capacity is set to increase from 87.6 Gigawatts (GW) in 2013 to 165.1GW by 2025 thanks to government support and environmental concerns.

That’s according to new statistics released this week by consulting firm GlobalData, which reveals that the 165GW target could be enough to supply around 17% of the world’s electricity.

The predicted growth is representative of a boom period for renewable energy; wind power is expected to hit 200GW by 2030, while hydropower could reach 1700GW in the next twenty years.

Biopower is the use of biomass, such as woodchips, to generate electricity. Most of the biopower plants in the world use a direct-fired systems, where bioenergy feedstocks are burnt directly to produce steam. This steam is usually captured by a turbine, and a generator then converts it into electricity.

GlobalData’s analyst covering alternative energy Harshavardhan Reddy Nagatham said: “The annual installation of biopower capacity globally peaked in 2009 at 6.9 GW, due to increased installations in most key biopower countries during that year, and considerable installations in several other countries as well. This was followed by a slight decline in 2010, which can be attributed to the drop in capacity additions in the Americas and Europe as a result of the financial crisis.

“As more countries start adopting biopower, thanks to increased interest and state promotion, annual capacity additions will rise after 2015, although annual installations worldwide will not return to 2009 levels until 2021.”

Viable option

The analyst identified government support through renewable energy mandates and subsidies, as the major driver behind the successful deployment of large-scale biopower plants.

In addition, environmental regulations to reduce emissions are discouraging the use of fossil fuels for power generation, meaning that biopower has an additional advantage as a source of renewable energy.

Nagatham explained: “Waste management practices, such as composting and land filling, indirectly support biopower generation, and many industries have set up biopower facilities to handle their process waste.

“With proper financial support and government mandates in place, biopower has become a more viable option, as well as an appropriate waste management solution. Its conversion into energy simultaneously eliminates waste and provides a sustainable source of power.”

In August, a new biomass power station was completed in Bedfordshire; diverting 40,000 tonnes of waste wood from landfill per annum and delivering more than 27,000MWh of electricity.

Brad Allen

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