Increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide from fossil fuel combustion is raising new interest in using renewable biomass for energy. Modest-scale cogeneration systems using air-blown gasifiers coupled to aeroderivative gas turbines are expected to have high efficiencies and low unit capital costs, making them well-suited for use with biomass. Biomass-gasifier/gas-turbine (BIG/GT) technology is not commercial, but efforts aimed at near-term commercialization are ongoing worldwide. Estimated performance and cost and prospects for commercial development of two BIG/GT systems are described, one using solid biomass fuel (e.g. wood chips), the other using kraft black liquor. At an energy-efficient kraft pulp mill, a BIG/GT cogeneration system could produce over three times as much electricity as is typically produced today. The mill’s on-site energy needs could be met and a large surplus of electricity would be available for export. Using in addition currently unutilized forest residues for fuel, electricity production would be nearly five times today’s level. The total cost to produce the electricity in excess of on-site needs is estimated to be below 4 cents per kWh in most cases. At projected growth rates for kraft pulp production, the associated biomass residue fuels could support up to 100 GW of BIG/GT capacity at kraft pulp mills worldwide in 2020 (30 GW in the US). The excess electricity production worldwide in 2020 would be equivalent to 10% of today’s electricity production from fossil fuels.

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