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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Environmental, economic and policy analysis of energy production from biomass residues in British Columbia Wang, Haoqi


In this study, the availability of various biomass resources in British Columbia (BC) is estimated, including forestry resources, agricultural waste and municipal solid waste. Since the enormous potential for bioenergy production identified is insufficient to replace the entirety of fossil fuel consumption in BC, the exploitation of limited biomass resources must be optimized based on Greenhouse Gas (GHG) reduction and costs. Life Cycle Assessment is conducted to analyze the GHG reduction potential and other environmental impacts of various bioenergy options. Minimum selling prices and GHG reduction costs are calculated to indicate economic viability. For lignocellulosic feedstocks, the biomass-fired heat-only boiler (HB) has the highest GHG savings; however, it may impose health risks in densely populated urban areas due to flue gas emissions and should be limited to large-scale implementations with effective emission control. HB is also the most cost-effective in GHG mitigation. In comparison, liquid biofuels and renewable natural gas slightly less effective in GHG mitigation and substantially more costly. For animal manure, food waste, and crop residues, anaerobic digestion can be used to convert these biomass residues into biogas. The results show that the biogas-fired HB has higher GHG savings and lower GHG reduction costs than cogeneration or upgrading to RNG. Biogas-fired HB systems can be further integrated with other common agricultural practices in BC to generate additional environmental and economic benefits. At present, full-scale implementation of refined biofuel technologies will lead to prohibitive extra costs; hence, HB systems should be prioritized in the short-term due to the inherent advantage in conversion efficiencies. In the long term, technological breakthroughs in improving efficiency and extracting high-value byproducts will be the key to the prospect of refined biofuels.

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