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Aston University introduces biomass to China’s coal-fired power plants

Aston University’s Bioenergy Research Group is part of a European-Chinese team that will assess market opportunities for EU companies to introduce cofiring of biomass in China’s coal fired power stations in a new project launched this month.

The €590,000 ChEuBio (China EU Bioenergy project), funded by the European Commission, is a two-year initiative that will evaluate commercial possibilities of cofiring biomass in China’s coal fired power stations to help cut the country’s dependence on fossil fuel and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

Andrew Minchener, the Project Co-ordinator, said: “The potential impact of substituting coal with a CO2 neutral fuel is large. If half of the biomass wastes currently produced in China could be utilised in the existing power plants it could displace over 200 million tonnes of coal.”

Coal has fuelled China’s emergence as an economic powerhouse and today the country is the world’s largest coal producer and consumer. With over 70% of all energy consumed in China coming from coal, the market is promising for EU companies keen to introduce their cofiring technology to new markets.

Cofiring, which is not currently practiced in China, involves burning coal and biomass together – mainly straw, reed, rice husks, and wastes from crops and wood. Cofiring cuts down on greenhouse gas emissions and can help to reduce global warming because biomass is a ‘carbon neutral’ fuel releasing the same amount of carbon when it is burned as it absorbs while growing.

China's economy is dauntingly complex. Its distributed farms make the logistics of biomass collection and transport challenging. ChEuBio will gather data on the biomass sources and availability, undertake case studies of various plants to assess possibilities for cofiring in China’s coal power plants, and determine the commercial potential for cofiring in China.

Aston University’s Bioenergy Research Group will use geographic modelling to evaluate the potential of using various biomass feedstocks in different regions of China, and will help to communicate the findings to the Chinese power industry and policy makers in the country.

Professor Tony Bridgwater, Head of the Bioenergy Research Group, said: “The fast growing economy in China offers enormous possibilities for bioenergy to make a major contribution to improving the global environment.”

ChEuBio will share the results with the European co-firing industry and help companies form technology partnerships with Chinese power stations.

Crystal Luxmore | alfa
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