Biomass energy power plants have the potential to bring multiple gigawatts online with every installation. Biopower can also optimize existing industrial processes, such as combined heat and power (CHP) installations, reducing coal emissions through co-firing and provide on-site generation for factories and refineries.
While biopower currently remains largely a subsidy-dependent enterprise, technological breakthroughs and the expansion of international trade in biomass feedstock are expected to lead to growth in the sector. According to a recent report from Navigant Research, worldwide revenue from biomass power generation will reach $11.5 billion annually by 2020.
“Offering dispatchable, baseload support to the grid with high load reliability, biopower will continue to play a cornerstone role in meeting renewable energy targets,” says Mackinnon Lawrence, principal research analyst with Navigant Research. “Logistical challenges associated with the collection, aggregation, transportation, and handling of biomass, however, will continue to limit the commercial potential of biomass power generation.”
The expansion of the biopower market will largely be determined by government mandates. Official targets for the integration of renewable energy from biomass in national electricity and thermal production portfolios are set by government policies.
These policies can be either aspirational or mandated, but if they remain in place through 2020, they could help the biomass market expand. If incentives and subsidies continue to be implemented on an ad hoc basis, growth in this sector is likely to remain constrained.