Study: The Economics of Four Virginia Biomass Plants

This link discusses the economic issues associated with burning biomass (largely wood) as an energy source. The Georgia Tech study concludes that the cost of generating energy by burning biomass is far more expensive than generating electricity from solar or wind.

Global electricity generated from biomass more than tripled between 2000 and 2016, and it is
forecast to grow at an increasing pace through 2050. Electricity generation from biomass is also
expanding in the United States, particularly in the Southeast. Given the continued growth and
policy support for biomass electricity generation, this paper assesses the economics of four
Virginia biomass plants, three converted from coal plants in 2012 and one purchased and
expanded in 2004. The goal is to estimate the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) generated from
the plants as a metric of their level of competitiveness with respect to alternative ways of
meeting electricity demand in the region. The LCOE of the four plants range from $93 to
$143/MWh, about 40-53% more expensive than new solar and wind today and is double the
cost of energy efficiency. Even with the inclusion of federal subsidies and environmental
credits, Dominion’s biomass conversions are not competitive. Overall, our analysis underscores
the risks associated with investing in large, long-lived generation assets at a time when
technologies and markets are rapidly evolving.

Here is a link to the Georgia Tech website.

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