Biopower

Electricity produced from biomass is called biopower. Biopower is today, after nuclear- and hydropower, the fourth largest source of electricity in Sweden.

Biopower is produced by biomass, usually wood fuels, burning in a furnaceconnected to a boiler. This occurs in a CHP-plant. The heat generated is used to heat the water vapor which in turnmakes the turbine rotate, and electricity can be generated. The excess heat is distributed through a district heatingnetwork to homes and industrial users.

It is as easy as it sounds – Bioenergy delivers electricity and heat!

Together with the magazine Bioenergi, we produce a map over all the biopower production units in Sweden. This map shows biopower production at 209 locations, and another 20 planned units.

Igelsta Söderenergi

Söderenergi. Igelsta CHP plant is the second largest biomass fired CHP plant for heat and electricity. Photo: Stig Almqvist

Advantages with biopower

Biopower has a number of advantages, besides the obvious one, that it is renewable:

  • Biopower is produced in the high demand season, from autumn to spring. In Sweden a substantial amount of electricity is used for heating purposes, and therefore electricity comsumption is lower in the summer. Furthermore, industrial consumption of electricity is lower in the summer season when many plants close for vacation periods and maintenance. Biopower in CHPs in district heating produce most during the period October–April. A result of this production pattern is that the producers can get a good price for biopower and that the production helps to cut costs for consumers.
  • Biopower is produced near the consumers, and thus causes relatively low distribution losses. CHP plants are located in the larger cities and towns, and the biopower units in industry are located at plants using significant amounts of energy.
  • Biopower is produced continuously and not intermittently (like wind-power and solar power), and therefore reliable. It does not require balancing production units. On the other hand it cannot be used to balance wind-power. Large biomass CHPs are base-load units.
  • Biopower plants can use a large number of fuels and for this reason biopower is a  flexible energy source. Most of these fuels are waste or  by-products of low cost that have no other use.
  • Biopower uses well-established technologies and the risk for plant shut-downs is small. There is no risk for shut-downs for safety reasons, as with nuclear power. Also in this respect biopower can be deemed reliable.
  • Biopower production is decentralised and the power is produced in a large number of middle-size and small units. This guarantees high access and low risk for power-shortage. Compared to nuclear power this is a big advantage. Shut-down of one or two large nuclear units can create shortage on the market if it occurs at peak-load time.

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