Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Steam-treated wood pellets: Environmental and financial implications relative to fossil fuels and conventional pellets for electricity generation

McKechnie, Jon; Saville, Brad; MacLean, Heather L.

Steam-treated wood pellets: Environmental and financial implications relative to fossil fuels and conventional pellets for electricity generation Thumbnail


Authors

JON MCKECHNIE Jon.Mckechnie@nottingham.ac.uk
Professor of Engineering Sustainability

Brad Saville

Heather L. MacLean



Abstract

© 2016 Elsevier Ltd Steam-treated pellets can help to address technical barriers that limit the uptake of pellets as a fuel for electricity generation, but there is limited understanding of the cost and environmental impacts of their production and use. This study investigates life cycle environmental (greenhouse gas (GHG) and air pollutant emissions) and financial implications of electricity generation from steam-treated pellets, including fuel cycle activities (biomass supply, pellet production, and combustion) and retrofit infrastructure to enable 100% pellet firing at a generating station that previously used coal. Models are informed by operating experience of pellet manufacturers and generating stations utilising coal, steam-treated and conventional pellets. Results are compared with conventional pellets and fossil fuels in a case study of electricity generation in northwestern Ontario, Canada. Steam-treated pellet production has similar GHG impacts to conventional pellets as their higher biomass feedstock requirement is balanced by reduced process electricity consumption. GHG reductions of more than 90% relative to coal and ∼85% relative to natural gas (excluding retrofit infrastructure) could be obtained with both pellet options. Pellets can also reduce fuel cycle air pollutant emissions relative to coal by 30% (NOx), 97% (SOx), and 75% (PM10). Lesser retrofit requirements for steam-treated pellets more than compensate for marginally higher pellet production costs, resulting in lower electricity production cost compared to conventional pellets ($0.14/kWh vs. $0.16/kWh). Impacts of retrofit infrastructure become increasingly significant at lower generating station capacity factors, further favouring steam-treated pellets for both environmental and financial metrics.

Citation

McKechnie, J., Saville, B., & MacLean, H. L. (2016). Steam-treated wood pellets: Environmental and financial implications relative to fossil fuels and conventional pellets for electricity generation. Applied Energy, 180, 637-649. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apenergy.2016.08.024

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 4, 2016
Online Publication Date Aug 11, 2016
Publication Date Oct 15, 2016
Deposit Date Sep 16, 2016
Publicly Available Date Sep 16, 2016
Journal Applied Energy
Print ISSN 0306-2619
Electronic ISSN 0306-2619
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 180
Pages 637-649
DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apenergy.2016.08.024
Keywords Wood pellets; Electricity generation; Life cycle assessment; Techno-economic analysis; Canada
Public URL https://nottingham-repository.worktribe.com/output/823402
Publisher URL http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0306261916311114
Contract Date Sep 16, 2016

Files





You might also like



Downloadable Citations