Asia, Biomass, Emissions & Environment, Europe, RWE, Upgrades

Reducing coal CO2 emissions with biomass co-firing

Expert opinion from POWERGEN Asia speaker Jack Beks, RWE Technology International
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Many companies are adding decarbonization goals to their business strategies with a motivation driven by customers, investors, or even employees.

However, developing a sound plan can be challenging amid so many uncertainties.

RWE continuously improves the CO2 footprint of its power fleet across Europe, while simultaneously maintaining efficiency. One way to achieve such an improvement is through converting coal-fired plants to (co-)fire biomass wood pellets.

In alignment with an EU agreement, the Dutch government needs to reduce the CO2 emissions drastically and subsidies for the conversion of hard coal plants are now enabling this to happen.

RWE has been a pioneer in biomass since 2002 and this experience was the base for it to win at subsidy auctions.

Financial support is one driver for coal conversions, however technical feasibility is even more important: these conversions are not possible overnight and preparing the modifications of the existing installation step by step to shift from 10 to 80 per cent was developed over more than a decade.

The main challenges of co-firing are related to the properties of different fuel types combusted and to optimize this in relation to the existing power plant design, particularly the calorific value, moisture content, ash production and combustion characteristics. As such, various technologies perform differently depending on the biomass type and the quantities co-fired.

RWE is responsible for the biomass conversion of three hard coal power stations in the Netherlands. It will be able to replace 1,700,000 tonnes/y of hard coal and achieve biomass ratios up to of 80 per cent when the projects are completed by RWE Technology International by the end of this year.

This will reduce CO2 emissions by 4,000,000 tonnes/y and will create sustainable, controllable power production that is ready to support renewable power sources when required.

The Amer Biomass Conversion Project demonstrates the potential for utilities to execute similar projects to repurpose existing coal plants using biomass, waste or sewage sludge (co-)incineration as a means of extending the life of old coal plants whilst delivering cleaner but still reliable power.

RWE Technology International’s role encompasses supporting the project development and complete management, and associated interfaces from the start of execution, including construction supervision and commissioning.

Our combustion experts are highly experienced in the different combustion and fuel switching technologies, additional equipment, storage and transport needs as well as the associated investment and operating costs.
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Jack Beks is Senior Project Manager of Biomass Conversion Projects at RWE Technology International. He will be speaking about coal-to-biomass conversions at POWERGEN Asia later this year in Malaysia, where you can find out more about RWE Technology International’s projects and solutions.

For more project details click here