The Quest to Make Cofiring as Seamless as Possible

By Rona Johnson | August 23, 2011

It is still anyone’s guess what the impact of boiler and environmental regulations will be on U.S. coal-fired power plants. But that isn't stopping the biomass industry from making preparations for eventual plant retirements or retrofits involving cofiring.

According to a study by The Brattle Group, emerging U.S. EPA regulations on air and water quality could result in a reduction in electricity-generating capacity of more than 50,000 megawatts due to coal plant retirements.

Of course, there are conflicting estimates of just how much electrical capacity is at risk, but there will no doubt be some reduction.     

After reading the features for this month’s magazine, I’m convinced that the biomass industry understands the potential for biomass cofiring at coal plants and several companies are trying to come up with solutions to make the transition as seamless as possible. 

The bottom line is that cofiring biomass and coal can be done. But it can’t be done overnight and it may take some trial and error to eventually come to the right balance of feedstock and the right assemblage of equipment.