Optimisation and investment analysis of two biomass-to-heat supply chain structures

Rentizelas, Athanasios A. and Tolis, Athanasios I. and Tatsiopoulos, Ilias P. (2014) Optimisation and investment analysis of two biomass-to-heat supply chain structures. Biosystems Engineering, 120. pp. 81-91. ISSN 1537-5110

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    Abstract

    As oil prices have risen dramatically lately, many people explore alternative ways of heating their residences and businesses in order to reduce the respective cost. One of the options usually considered nowadays is biomass, especially in rural areas with significant local biomass availability. This work focuses on comparing two different biomass energy exploitation systems, aiming to provide heat to a specific number of customers at a specific cost. The first system explored is producing pellets from biomass and distributing them to the final customers for use in domestic pellet boilers. The second option is building a centralised co-generation (CHP) unit that will generate electricity and heat. Electricity will be fed to the grid, whereas heat will be distributed to the customers via a district heating network. The biomass source examined is agricultural residues and the model is applied to a case study region in Greece. The analysis is performed from the viewpoint of the potential investor. Several design characteristics of both systems are optimised. In both cases the whole biomass-to-energy supply chain is modelled, both upstream and downstream of the pelleting/CHP units. The results of the case study show that both options have positive financial yield, with the pelleting plant having higher yield. However, the sensitivity analysis reveals that the pelleting plant yield is much more sensitive than that of the CHP plant, therefore constituting a riskier investment. The model presented may be used as a decision support system for potential investors willing to engage in the biomass energy field.