UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Life cycle greenhouse gas analysis of bioenergy generation alternatives using forest and wood residues in remote locations : a case study in British Columbia, Canada. Cambero, Claudia; Alexandre, Mariane Hans; Sowlati, Taraneh


Utilization of forest and wood residues as bioenergy feedstock in some remote communities could reduce environmental burdens and increase development opportunities. In a thorough bioenergy project planning, in addition to the economic performance, the potential greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from investment alternatives should be considered. We present an economic assessment and a life cycle analysis of GHG emissions of alternative bioenergy systems, which include four combustion and gasification technologies with different capacities (0.5 MW, 2 MW and 5 MW), in two remote communities in British Columbia, Canada. In the analysis, all stages from harvesting to energy production are included, and the GHG emissions of the baseline system in each community (the current situation with all the products and services it provides) is used as the reference for comparison. Results of this study show that for small scale alternatives (0.5 MW and 2 MW), cogenerating plants using boiler/steam turbines generate the cheapest electricity, while for larger scale alternatives (5 MW), the most economical plant alternative is a gasification cogeneration system. In the community where all energy needs are currently satisfied using fossil fuels, and all biomass residues (forest and sawmill residues) are currently disposed by burning, net reductions of up to 40,909 t of CO₂ equivalent GHG emissions could be achieved with the installation of a 5 MW boiler/steam turbine cogenerating heat and electricity. In the community where the current energy mix is mostly supplied from other renewable sources (i.e. hydro), and where forest residues are disposed by burning and sawmill residues are landfilled, the net GHG emission reductions that can be achieved with a bioenergy system are considerably lower (2,535 t of CO₂ equivalent emissions with a 5 MW cogenerating gasification system) or null, since the carbon capture of current biomass disposal in landfill outweighs the carbon emission reduction of most bioenergy alternatives.

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