Biomass and coal co-combustion still up for technology improvement

By Myrna M. Velasco – Updated November 18, 2019, 10:47 AM
from Manila Bulletin

The co-combustion of coal and biomass fuels for electricity generation is still fledgling on efficiency rate, hence, experts have been batting for advancements on the technology prior to commercial deployment.

In an interview in Vietnam with Junji Morinaga, project director of the coal technology division of Japan, Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC), he noted that the target is to reinforce the co-firing efficiency rate to two-digit level from currently at 3.0 to 5.0-percent.

“There is a limitation of about 3.0 to 5.0-percent because there’s still technical constraint. We are now working jointly with some Japanese companies to improve the co-combustion ratio of biomass and coal up to 20-percent,” he emphasized.

The Japanese firm executive said they have several pilot plant-projects to test the viability of coal and biomass co-combustion so emissions from coal-fired power facilities could be brought down.

“We have various demonstration projects for co-firing of biomass and coal, but still very small capacity – it’s at the range of 10 megawatts to 150MW,” he said, noting that these facilities are generally sited in Tokyo.

The Japanese firm said it is importing pellets from Canada and other parts of the world that it utilizes as feedstock for its coal-biomass co-firing ventures.
Pellet fuels are generally from compressed organic materials – the likes of industrial waste and co-products, agricultural residues as well as energy crops.

“Biomass is very important for co-combustion especially for the future to bring down the emission of coal plants. We have domestic biomass resources, but it’s still very expensive, it is much cheaper to import pellets,” Morinaga stressed.

In the Philippines, it is the energy investment arm of San Miguel Corporation that has been pushing for the co-firing of coal and biomass for its power facilities in various parts of the country.

The target is to use rice husks as biomass feedstock for electricity generation that will amalgamate it with its existing coal-fired generating facilities in Davao in Mindanao; and Limay, Bataan in the Luzon grid.