Targets for a considerable increase in electricity generation from renewables have been set in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel dependence. Extensive planting of willow, poplar and alder as energy crops has been planned for power generation plants which use wood as the fuel. The current trend is to use gasification or pyrolysis technology, but alternatively a case may be made for wood combustion, if wood becomes readily available. A range of wood-fired circulating fluidised bed combustion (CFBC) plants, using from 10 to 10,000 dry tonne equivalent (DTE)/day, was examined using the ECLIPSE process simulation package. Various factors, such as wood moisture content, harvest yield, afforestation level (AL) and discounted cash flow rate (DCF) were investigated to test their influence on the efficiency and the economics of the systems. Steam cycle conditions and wood moisture content were found to have the biggest effects on the system efficiencies; DCF and AL had the largest influences on the economics. Plants which could handle more than 500 dry tonnes/day could be economically viable; those using more than 1000 dry tonnes wood/day could be competitive with large-scale, conventional coal-fired plants, if sufficient wood were available.
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