Eskom mulls big biomass co-firing plan in bid to lower coal emissions

Engineering News 14 December 2012.

South Africa’s State-owned electricity utility Eskom is considering an ambitious plan to begin burning biomass alongside coal at some of its power stations, as part of a strategy aimed at lowering the group’s sizeable carbon footprint.

In 2011/12, the coal-heavy utility produced a material 231.9-million tons of carbon dioxide emissions, while burning 125.21-million tons of coal and selling 224 785 GWh of electricity.

Nevertheless, the group has set an objective of reducing its relative emissions between now and 2025 and its absolute emissions by 10% against the existing baseline over the longer term.

To do so, various projects are being pursued, including the 100 MW Sere wind farm, in the Western Cape, a 100 MW con- centrating solar thermal project, in the Northern Cape, as well as the installation of photovoltaic plants alongside some of its existing coal-fired power station sites.

Also included in the mix, however, is a possible large-scale biomass co-firing initiative, which Eskom estimates has the potential to displace about 10% of its yearly coal consumption with ‘torrefied’ wood pellets…

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