ECN publication
The Economy of Large Scale Biomass to Synthetic Natural Gas (bioSNG) plants
Published by: Publication date:
ECN Biomass & Energy Efficiency 12-6-2014
ECN report number: Document type:
ECN-E--14-008 ECN publication
Number of pages: Full text:
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In this work, an economic assessment of large-scale production of Synthetic Natural Gas from biomass (bioSNG) has been carried out. With the aim of estimating the total capital investment of a large-scale bioSNG facility, different commercial plants based on gasification technology, including Gas-to-Liquids (GTL), Coal-to-Liquids (CTL), Coal-to-methanol (CTM), Coal-to-SNG (CSNG), and Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) have been used as references. The layout for SNG production from biomass is based on MILENA indirect gasification (technology developed by ECN). The average Total Capital Investment (TCI) for a large bioSNG plant (1 GW thermal input) has been determined as ~1530 USD2013/kWinput. Technology learning could further decrease the TCI of a bioSNG plant with about 30% to 1100 USD2013/kWinput after a cumulative number of 10 GW installed capacity. A TCI of 1100 USD2013/kWinput results in an overall bioSNG cost price of 14-24 USD2013/GJ, largely depending on the price of biomass feedstock. From three scenarios considered (wood chips in Europe and United States, or cheap agricultural residues from Brazil/India), the latter is the best in terms of cost price of SNG. However, Europe offers several advantages for the deployment of SNG from biomass, e.g. existing natural gas infrastructure, and an existing SNG market based on incentives and obligations. Internalization of CO2 emissions in the 2030 untaxed price of SNG reveals that bioSNG can be competitive with SNG produced from coal, with a cost of 25 USD2013/GJ. Even so, medium-term bioSNG prices are expected to remain higher than future natural gas prices. However, the implementation of concepts such as the co-production of bioSNG/bioLNG and chemicals/biofuels, the capture and storage of CO2, or power-to-gas systems will contribute to enhance the business case of bioSNG production. ECN is working on all these topics.

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