Biomass Power Plant


The biomass power plant work by creating renewable energy from the most common thermochemical process, ie combustion. The applications are many of different size, starting with the pellet stoves up to industrial plants for district heating.
A plant of this type can be considered then a renewable powerhouse, extracting energy through different methods:

  • Direct biomass combustion with a special attention to efficiency that should always be pursued;
  • Pyrolysis, by heating the material in total absence of oxygen, thus creating a kind of thermochemical decomposition;
  • Gasification, by pulling out the synthesis gas.

We talk about renewable energy because it makes use of biomass, which consists of natural origin and organic material that would still have product in its life cycle the gases which in this case are used as fuel. There isn’t therefore any additional input of CO2 as would be using fossil fuels such as coal and oil. Some examples of this very energetic substances are: waste of agricultural and forestry production, industrial waste and farming, waste, manure, municipal waste, wood, as well as the so-called energetic crops, ie plants grown with this sole purpose.


Until the discovery of fossil fuels, it was biomass, in guise of firewood, to provide the necessary support to humankind; only later, coal and oil became predominant, pushing biomass at the corner. The gradual return to biomass was necessitated by political instability problems, due to the non-homogenous distribution of non-renewable fuels on the planet and economic and environmental sustainability problems: in fact, we cannot entirely rely on sources considered exhaustible.


Energy production from this type of fuel, as anticipated, is rising across Europe. In countries like Germany and Denmark, but also Austria and Spain, the exploitation of these materials is more intense due largely to more favorable rules in favor of the biomass power plant. The delay of Italy is due to the fact that you must often cope with a poorly informed public opinion which is hostile to different sources of renewable energy (this is not the case in other parts of Europe).


The advantages of this type of thermal power plants are numerous, not only compared to non-renewable sources, but even compared to other clean energy.

  • Amount of carbon in the air. Using a biomass power plant, you do not go to increase the carbon emissions into the atmosphere since this substance is part of the natural carbon cycle, and would then still released, and then in the long term, does not increase the amount of carbon in the air, contributing to the reduction of greenhouse gases caused by fossil fuels instead;
  • Emissions and efficiency. Nowadays, the efficiency of a biomass power plant can be very high, even 90% or more, and may further be improved by exploiting the fact that the energy is delivered in a continuous way: this means that we can exploit the added benefit of a combined heat that can be used in district heating of homes and offices. It is in practice to recover the heat that would otherwise be dispersed in the combustion. The pollution factors of air introduced, generated as in any combustion as VOCs, NOx, and particulates are widely scaled and reduced thanks to new technologies and innovations that SMEA Engineering helped to introduce. We can say that are almost absent two relevant pollutants: polycyclic hydrocarbons and sulfur. It is therefore important the plants are fitted with the best technology, in order to avoid an excessive and useless pollutants emission;
  • Biomass supplying. A big advantage is the globally widespread availability of the material in input, without taking land dedicated to agriculture but also going to exploit fields or sources that would otherwise remain unused.. The amount of material to be exploited is immense, just think about the residues from pruning, straw, animal manure. Is also possible to use special plantations grown for the need, on sustainable criteria. Is than easy to understand that biomass is available in a uniform manner, thus avoiding the geopolitical problems that have afflicted and still afflict fossil fuels;
  • Employment growth, being new staff needed for maintaining and servicing the system;
  • Safety. As with other small systems, these help to form the so-called “smart grid”, an architecture for generating and distributing electricity widespread and extensively, literally closer to the people needs;
  • Other advantages over other clean energies. The production of energy in biomass power plants has obviated the important problems faced by systems such as wind and solar, ie, storage of generated energy and the continuity of supply. Energy can be stored in fact by accumulating the fuel and using it when you need it, and also the input in the network can be adjusted and locked if necessary. In addition, the investment is reduced and the system can be designed and realized even in developing countries along the same lines.


Depending on the hosting country, the biomass power plants can enjoy different types of incentive. In Italy the most important are:

  • The TEE, ie energy efficiency certificates, also known as “White Certificates”;
  • Tax breaks aimed at facilitating energy savings;
  • Incentives provided by DM 6 July 2012. This governs the facilitation arrangements for new, renewable reactivated or completely rebuilt power plants, with output of at least 1 kW; these are validated on the effective fed into the grid electricity, not on the self-consumed one used to operate the plant (such as boilers, heating etc.) and are calculated in two ways depending on the power plant:
    I. Plants up to 1 MW. Here the benefit is a feed-in tariff, given by the sum of the basic rate incentive plus more awards entitled by the plant.
    II. Plants over 1 MW. Here the incentive is given by the difference between the basic rate inclusive of any premium, less the per hour zonal price
    These concessions have a duration equal to the biomass power plant estimated average life (usually 20 years), and are obtained in different ways, but the most common is the direct access, for those who just make new construction, upgrades or reactivations. You can also be accessed with registers recording, or participating in a Dutch auction.
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