On the environmental and economic issues associated with the forestry residues-to-heat and electricity route in Chile: Sawdust gasification as a case study

CASAS, Y.; FLORES, M.; JIMÉNEZ, R.; RONSSE, F.; DEWULF, J.; ARTEAGA, L.:
Energy, 170 (2019) 763-776.

DOI: 10.1016/j.energy.2018.12.132

Abstract

The present study reports on the technical, economic and environmental analysis of small-scale gasification-ICE systems integrated into sawmills in Chile. Two scenarios were considered, (i) a 100 kWe system for self-consumption in a sawmill and (ii) a 1000 kWe system for using residues from different sawmills. The gasification system was technically assessed by a comprehensive mathematical model implemented on Aspen One 10.0, while economics were studied by the Levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) and environmental impacts were quantified by a Life cycle assessment of forestry, sawmills and power plant processes. Results demonstrate that heat recovery is critical for the process economy, which exhibits an LCOE between 0.15 and 0.32 USD/kWh, and a return on investment of 6.4 years. Nevertheless, the gasification system is far for being an economically-feasible alternative for Chile, where electricity price is 0.08–0.10 USD/kWh. In contrast to economic assessment, the implementation of the gasification-ICE power plant would be a promising alternative for decarbonization of the Chilean energy matrix, showing a reduction of 93% of carbon emissions versus actual practices (viz. co-firing process). From the environmental point of view, biomass harvesting and transport are the critical stages during the whole life cycle of energy production, regardless of the scenario.

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