Short-term priorities for bioenergy focus on two primary areas - widening the availability of large quantities of relatively cheap feedstocks and further increasing conversion efficiency of basic processes while reducing their costs . Standards and norms on fuel quality are needed so that a dedicated market emerges to support trade - locally, nationally, and internationally. R&D will also be focused on innovative materials design to reduce cost.
Gasification technologies still need to demonstrate reliable commercial operation. The main barriers are efficient tar removal and economics. The success of the Varnamo plant in Sweden, the first and only plant to demonstrate an integrated gasification combined-cycle based on biomass, and recent advances on tar elimination indicate that the technical problems could be overcome in the short to medium term. Economics, however, may still pose a challenge.
Major R&D efforts are directed at multi-fuel co-firing with biomass and waste, to avoid any negative impact on combustion efficiency, flue gas cleaning requirements or ash behavior. The EU is providing financial incentives for the development of technological environmental sound solutions, both for short and long-term. As an example, the COPOWER European project integrates ten organizations from six countries (United Kingdom, Turkey, Sweden, Portugal, Italy, and Germany) with the aim of developing a comprehensive understanding of process synergy during co-firing of coal with biomass and wastes, in circulating fluidized bed systems. Research is also being carried out on fouling and slagging, and dioxin formation and destruction. Given public sensitivity to waste combustion, this option requires careful consideration.
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