Analysis reveals low cost of biomass conversion

By Staff | August 15, 2014

A new report published by FutureMetrics shows that converting old coal plants to burn wood pellets provides a ready-to-go solution for meeting carbon mitigation goals while creating jobs. The white paper, authored by William Strauss, president of FutureMetrics, and titled “A Cost Effective, Job Creating, and Ready to Deploy Strategy for Baseload Dispatchable Low Carbon Power Generation,” discusses the costs of fuel switching to pellets compared to the costs of other pathways to lower carbon emissions.

The analysis performed by Strauss reveals that converting an older pulverized coal-fired power plant to wood pellets results in cost per MWh that is “surprisingly low and very competitive to other power generation methods.”

With regard to price, Strauss noted that the cost of generation is primarily dependent on three factors, including the capital cost to build the plant, the fixed and variable operations and maintenance costs, and the fuel cost. While the analysis shows the cost of wood pellets is approximately 2.88 times the cost of coal on a per-Btu basis, the total cost of generation with wood pellet fuel is actually only 1.387 times more expensive than coal-based generation.