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Currently accounting for 3% of global electricity generation capacity, biomass power could reach up to 129 GW and represent $11.5 billion in annual revenue by 2020, according to a new report from Navigant Research.

Standalone biomass power facilities have the potential to bring hundreds of megawatts online per installation, the report says. Biopower can also optimize existing industrial processes, such as combined heat and power (CHP) installations, reducing coal emissions through co-firing, and onsite generation for industrial facilities like biorefineries.

While biomass power currently remains limited as a subsidy-dependent enterprise, the report says technological breakthroughs and the expansion of international trade in biomass pellets are expected to lead to sustained growth in the sector.

“Offering dispatchable, baseload support to the grid with high load reliability, biopower will continue to play a cornerstone role in meeting renewable energy targets,” says Mackinnon Lawrence, principal research analyst with Navigant Research. “Logistical challenges associated with the collection, aggregation, transportation and handling of biomass, however, will continue to limit the commercial potential of biomass power generation.”

According to the report, the expansion of the biopower market will largely be determined by government mandates. Official targets for the integration of renewable energy from biomass in national electricity and thermal production portfolios are set by government policies. These policies can be either aspirational or mandated, but if they remain in place through 2020, Navigant says they could help the biomass market expand. If incentives and subsidies continue to be implemented on an ad hoc basis, however, growth in this sector is likely to remain constrained.



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