Pellets: a Reliable and Renewable Alternative for Coal Power Utilities to Reduce Emissions

Ecotech Alliance Pty Ltd (Ecotech Alliance) is an Australian based company that develops and procures assets in the agribusiness, forestry and renewable energy.

Online PR News – 29-June-2015 – Perth – According to researches almost 40 percent of electricity in the world is being generated by coal-fired power plants. Coal has the greatest carbon dioxide emissions per unit of energy of all fossil fuels. Coal-fired power plants generally have a lifespan of twenty to fifty years and have required huge global capital investment. It would not be viable to simply abandon these existing coal plants which still have considerable years of operational and productive capacity.

It is a fact that the world needs low cost renewable energy, however it is not economically feasible to retire these coal-fired power plants and switch entirely to greener alternatives due to demand for electricity worldwide. As many countries are transitioning toward a low carbon economy, drastic measures are required to rapidly reduce emissions from the heaviest “green house gases” (GHG) polluters. There is a ready solution; it is possible to reduce sulphur and carbon dioxide emissions from a coal plant by simply replacing a portion of the plant’s fuel mix with biomass or pellets, burning both fuels together which is known as co-firing.

The term “co-firing”, is a viable path toward significant reductions in GHG pollution from burning coal while also drawing value from the remaining years of a coal plant. The co-firing of coal with different types of biomass is now a mature technology. Many coal-fired plants in the UK, Europe, Japan and Korea have been retrofitted or converted to accommodate co-firing with limited impact on lifespan, operations and efficiency.

Pellets are a refined and densified solid biomass fuel, typically manufactured from wood processing and forestry waste residues. They are uniform, compact in nature and easy to transport. Pellets have a higher energy burn than raw biomass. With specifications and quality assured by way of certification schemes such as EnPlus, pellets burn very similarly to coal due to their low moisture content and is the preferred fuel for co-firing in coal power plants.

According to Ecotech Alliance, co-firing with pellets is considered as one of the most cost-effective and efficient approaches to generating electricity for power utilities from renewable sources. They anticipate a significant amount of coal power plants will continue to use or start co-firing with pellets to meet these important emission reduction targets.