Small-scale Biomass Gasification In Regional Communities: Possibilities, Advantages, Problems And Impact
From the article:
Based on our current understanding of the mechanisms of global warming and climate change, it is likely that activities involving the emission of greenhouse gases will soon become regulated in one form or another. Ultimately this, (and the decreasing availability of crude oil) will drive up the price of energy for the consumers who depend upon it in its most convenient high-grade forms: liquid hydrocarbon fuels and grid electricity.
Many regional communities and their micro-economies are at present heavily exposed to changes in both cost and availability of their high-grade energy supplies. This level of exposure to energy prices directly reflects the fact that even now Australia still enjoys some of the lowest energy prices in the world. Transport vehicles rely solely on the national petrol and diesel supply chain; distributed electricity generation (mostly in the form of cogeneration at industrial sites) has had a relatively poor uptake in Australia principally due to the availability of low-cost brown- or black-coal based electricity.
This paper explores the possibilities for disengaging small regional community local economies from high-grade energy consumption via the sustainable use of biomass resources to generate either electricity or motive power via gasification. Unlike wind or solar photovoltaic renewable energy systems, biomass gasification has the advantage of being an “on demand” electricity provider and gasification systems typically have an attractively low installed cost. However, for biomass gasification to qualify as renewable, responsible resource management is required and unlike the other renewables, biomass gasification plant are not “set-and-forget”; they require regular operator attention for fuelling and cleaning out.
The background, advantages, disadvantages and possibilities for a small-scale biomass gasification system for electricity generation are discussed both generally, and via a specific study of its potential in a small Central Goldfields community with a sustainable forestry program.
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