Worldwide, combustion already provides over 90% of the energy generated from biomass. The main benefits of combustion compared to other thermochemical conversion technologies (i.e. gasification, pyrolysis, liquefaction) is that combustion technologies are commercially available and can be integrated with existing infrastructure.
For further implementation of biomass combustion, combustion technology should nevertheless be optimised to keep it competitive as gasification and pyrolysis develop. Co-firing biomass with coal in traditional coal-fired boilers (subsequently referred to as co-firing) represents one combination of renewable and fossil energy utilisation that derives the greatest benefit from both fuel types. An overview of the most important issues that should be considered is provided here.
Within the IEA Bioenergy agreement, Task 32: Biomass Combustion and Co-firing works on further expansion of the use of biomass combustion for heat and power generation, with special emphasis on small and medium scale CHP plants and co-firing biomass with coal in traditional coal-fired boilers. This is done by generating and disseminating information on technical and on non-technical barriers and anticipated solutions. Task 32 runs at least until 2015.
The participation of industries is a key success factor in Task 32. Further, Task 32 is closely related to other IEA Bioenergy activities, especially to activities in the field of Biomass Gasification (T33), Biomass Trade (T40) and Resources (T43). There is also interaction with other IEA Implementing Agreements and industry organisations, such as