Biomass combined heat and power—technology
Produced in partnership with WSP Environmental
Biomass combined heat and power—technology

The following Energy practice note Produced in partnership with WSP Environmental provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Biomass combined heat and power—technology
  • What is biomass combined heat and power?
  • Key conditions for development
  • Technologies
  • Gasification
  • Technologies under research and development
  • Biomass
  • Things to consider when choosing biomass systems
  • Environmental aspects of biomass—storage
  • Environmental aspects of biomass—delivery
  • More...

What is biomass combined heat and power?

A biomass combined heat and power (CHP) system is an engine designed to generate energy using biomass. CHP is effectively a small-scale power station with heat reclamation and minimal distribution losses due to its close proximity to the load. In this way it offers the potential for considerably improved generation efficiency with implicit carbon and cost savings benefits. The plants can achieve a total efficiency of 80–90%, whereas in conventional condensing power plants the efficiency in electricity production remains around 40%.

Figure 1—schematic of a biomass CHP system (source: WSP)

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The use of biomass, rather than natural gas, the most commonly used fuel type in conventional CHP, translates the energy generated from merely sustainable to being renewable energy. Differently from gas fuel CHP, the use of biomass as a heat source for CHP systems has hitherto been restricted to large units (of several megawatts).

Key conditions for development

When determining the feasibility of biomass CHP all the different technology options need careful consideration. Systems need to be precisely specified based on the ratio and extent of heat and power requirements. The biomass fuel type being used also needs to be taken into account as well as fuel storage and delivery capacity (see: Biomass).


The processes for delivering biomass CHP can vary, depending on

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