The UK 2050 Calculator Web Flash Excel Wiki
Register or sign in
This is a wiki Anyone can contribute, therefore we don't vouch for its accuracy.

I.a Biomass/Coal power stations Costs

Summary of costs in this sector

The cost of running and building new unabated thermal power stations, including coal, oil, gas and solidbiomass plants.

Technologies costed in this sector

Note: Oil and coal for electricity generation are both assumed to retire by 2015 and 2035 respectively with no new plants built from 2010. Therefore investment costs are not used.

Costs Methodology

Investment costs for biomass power are determined by the user choice on biomass/coal power plants (see below for how the biomass to coal mix is determined) and the cost range covers both new dedicated biomass power plants and the conversion of existing coal plants. Gas plants are built to ensure supply meets demand, so where there is not enough low carbon generation CCGT gas plants are built.

Note: CCGT gas plants may also be built for back up generation. For more information please see: VII.c Storage, demand shifting, interconnection Costs

Methodology issues and uncertainties

  • Including the cost of converting existing coal plants to co-firing/100% biomass power gives a large investment cost range. Should the cost of conversion be included in the lower range or are there realistically only a number of limited sites, which could convert?
  • Size of biomass power plant - is 50MW realistic to 2050?
  • Biomass power plant capital costs often include fuel handling (up to 20% of the total CAPEX[1] are we risking double counting by also including biomass conversion to fuel costs (see: BIOMATTER TO FUEL CONVERSION COSTS)
  • We have excluded FOAK costs for conventional coal and gas plants - is this reasonable?

Technical Assumptions

Gas Plants

  • Lifetime = new build 20 years[2], assume 1/4 of stock retires every 5 years
  • Efficiency = 50% thermal efficiency, 2% own use as a percentage of supplied electricity
  • Load factor = 70%
  • Input Fuel = Natural Gas or Biogas

Coal Plants

  • Lifetime = Retires from 28.1 to 0 in 2035
  • Efficiency = 35% thermal efficiency, 5% own use as a percentage of supplied electricity
  • Load factor = 60%
  • Input Fuel = Coal or solid biomass

Oil plant

  • Lifetime = Retires from 4.1 to 0 in 2015
  • Efficiency = 30% thermal efficiency, 20% own use as a percentage of supplied electricity
  • Load factor = 6%
  • Input Fuel = Oil or liquid biomass

Biomass plant

  • Lifetime = 25 years[3]
  • Efficiency = 35% thermal efficiency, 5% own use as a percentage of supplied electricity
  • Load factor = 90%
  • Input Fuel = Coal or solid biomass

Questions to stakeholders

  • We have assumed CCGT technical efficiencies and therefore used CCGT costs, rather than less efficient gas turbine technologies. Is this a fair representation of future Gas power plant build or do you think there may be a role for less efficient, reduced cost plants?
  • Biomass power generation includes the cost of converting existing plants within the range. Is this a fair representation? Or should we use the cost of building a new dedicated biomass power plant?

Note on Biomass use in thermal generation

Bioenergy is a scarce resource with a wide number of potential applications in energy using sectors. The Calculator simulates the first issue by providing feasible trajectories for bioenergy supply options from: domestic waste, agriculture, marine algae and imports. Biomass is treated as a perfect substitute, in terms of energy content, for fossil fuels where:

  • Solid biomass substitutes for coal
  • Liquid biomass substitutes for oil, petrol, aviation fuel and diesel
  • Gaseous biomass substitutes for natural gas

It is assumed biomass will be burnt ahead of fossil fuels in sectors which demand hydrocarbon fuel. A pertinent choice for biomass is therefore which form to convert raw biomass into in order to substitute different fossil fuels. [4]

Therefore, in thermal power generation if a user chooses biomass to be supplied, it is assumed to be used wherever it can substitute for a fossil fuel. For coal/biomass plants, this could be 100% biomass or 100% coal depending on how much solid biomass the user supplies and the demands for solid hydrocarbons from other sectors (such as Industry).

General comments

Please use this space to make any general comments. Please add your name when commenting.

  1. MottMac 2011
  2. ESME
  3. MottMac11