History of higher efficiency power generation via gasification of biomass

Biomass integrated combined cycle gasification (BIGCC)-gas turbine technology (BIG-GT) potentially offers much higher efficiences than conventional CHP, and was investigated in the late 1990s and the early 2000s. Several demonstration plants were built. However, at the current time, biomass gasification technologies for heat and power are not always considered to be competitive with combustion [Source: ThermalNet]. Find out more in the ThermalNet publication Thermal Biomass Conversion (ISBN 9781872691534).

The Värnamo plant in Sweden was the world's first IGCC plant and was designed to generate 6 MW of electricity and 9 MW of heat for district heating from wood chip. The Växjö Värnamo Biomass Gasification Centre (VVBGC) was upgraded under the EU CHRISGAS project in 2004-2010 and there were plans for it to continue as a "centre of excellence" on biomass gasification, supporting the development of industrial scale biomass gasification in Sweden. However in February 2011 funding partners withdrew.

In 2001, a demonstration plant was comissioned in Brazil with support from the EU-BRIDGE (EU-Brazil Industrial Demonstration of Gasification to Electricity) project. This demonstrated that the power output of biomass to energy plants in the Brazillian sugar industry could potentially be greatly increased via gasification. IGCC was also the basis of the Arable Biomass Renewable Energy (ARBRE) project in the UK. This project was halted due to a combination of technical and financial issues.

In the United States, several biomass gasification plants were demonstrated in the late 1990s (e.g. Vermont Gasifier). As in Europe, the technology was not commercialised at the time. However development of biomass gasification technology continues (as detailed below). See also the Bio-SNG page for details of new industrial-scale gasification projects.