Biomass Resources for CHP Applications in Southeast Asia
Salman Zafar* and Per Dahlen**
*Renewable Energy Advisor (Aligarh, India) **Managing Director, AUM Biz Creations Pvt. Ltd. (Singapore)
INTRODUCTION Southeast Asia, with its abundant biomass resources, holds a strategic position in the global biomass energy atlas. There is immense potential of biopower in Southeast Asian countries due to plentiful supply of diverse forms of wastes such as agricultural residues, woody biomass, animal wastes, municipal solid waste, etc. The rapid economic growth and industrialization in the region has accelerated the drive to implement the latest waste-to-energy technologies in order to tap the unharnessed potential of biomass resources. The Southeast Asian region is a big producer of wood and agricultural products which, when processed in industries, produces large amounts of biomass residues. According to conservative estimates, the amount of biomass residues generated from sugar, rice and palm oil mills is more than 200-230 million tons per year which corresponds to cogeneration potential of 16-19 GW. Figure 1 In 2005, rice mills in the region produced 38 million tonnes of rice husk as solid residues. Sugar industry is an integral part of the industrial scenario in Southeast Asia accounting for about 10% of global sugar production. Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand account for 90% of global palm oil production leading to the generation of thousands of tonnes of waste per annum in the form of empty fruit bunches (EFBs), fibers and shells, as well as liquid effluent. Woody biomass is a good energy resource due to presence of large number of forests and wood processing industries in the region. The prospects of biogas power generation are also high in the region due to the presence of wellestablished food-processing and dairy industries. Another important biomass resource is contributed by municipal solid wastes in heavily populated urban areas. In addition, there are increasing efforts from the public and private sectors to develop biomass energy systems for efficient biofuel production, e.g. bio-diesel from palm oil. NEED FOR BIOMASS ENERGY IN SOUTHEAST ASIA The rapid economic growth and industrialization in Southeast Asia is characterized by a significant gap between energy supply and demand. The energy demand in the region is expected to grow rapidly in the coming years which will have a profound impact on the global energy market. In addition, the region has many locations with high population density, which makes public health vulnerable to the pollution caused by fossil fuels. Another important rationale for transition from fossil-fuel-based energy systems to renewable ones arises out of observed and projected impacts of climate change. Due to the rising share of greenhouse gas emissions from Asia, it is imperative on all Asian countries to promote sustainable energy to significantly reduce GHGs emissions and foster sustainable energy trends. Rising proportion of greenhouse gas emissions is causing large-scale ecological degradation, particularly in coastal and forest ecosystems, which may further deteriorate environmental sustainability in the region. The reliance on conventional energy sources can be substantially reduced as the region is one of the leading producers of biomass resources in the world. The energy generating capacity of biomassbased CHP plants is comparatively much higher than other alternative energy technologies like solar, wind and geothermal energy. In addition, solar and wind projects are confined to remote rural
electrification and community centres, where the required installed capacity is low. On the other hand, biomass-based cogeneration plants can generate higher capacities of electrical and heat energy that could benefit an entire township and industries in the immediate area. BAGASSE Sugar industry is an integral part of the industrial scenario in South-east Asia and produces large quantities of bagasse as waste. Sugar mills in Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam generate 34 million tonnes of bagasse every in 2005. Thailand accounts for around 6% of the global sugar production. Indonesia and Philippines are also among the top producers of sugar. There are more than 75 sugar mills in operation in Indonesia with size ranging from 1,000 to 12,000 tons of cane per day. The Philippines has a potential cogeneration capacity of at least 235 MW from bagasse. Bagasse has traditionally been used as a fuel to produce electricity and steam for in-house consumption in sugar mills. However, most of the mills are still using outdated equipment using conventional steam thermal technology based on old cogeneration plants which are unsuccessful in realizing the true energy potential of bagasse. PALM OIL RESIDUES The palm oil is another important industry of the region. Indonesia and Malaysia are the biggest producers of crude palm oil (CPO) in the world. Indonesia's CPO production was 17.4 million tonnes in 2007 from 6 million hectare of palm oil plantations throughout the country. Malaysia is the world’s leading exporter of palm oil, exporting more than 13.75 million tonnes of palm oil in 2007 with annual power generation potential of 8,000 GWh. Thailand has also emerged as a major player in the palm oil industry during the last decade. The palm oil industry in Southeast Asia is expanding at a rapid pace using large mills which produce thousands of tonnes of biomass wastes every year. There are attractive opportunities for biofuels development from CPO and combined heat and power generation from biomass residues. In a typical palm oil mill, almost 70% of the fresh fruit bunches (FFBs) are turned into wastes in the form of empty fruit bunches (EFBs), fibers and shells, as well as biogas-rich liquid effluent. Thus, palm oil factories have high potential of generating large amounts of electricity and heat, for internal consumption and public grid, using their own biomass residues. PADDY RESIDUES The main source of biomass energy in Indonesia can be obtained from rice residues which give the largest technical energy potential of 150 GJ/year. Thailand is one of the world’s biggest rice producers and has the supply of 5 million tonnes of rice husk annually. Rice industries in the Philippines have good potential for CHP plants as one-third of the agricultural land produces rice and consequently large volumes of rice straw and hulls are generated with an estimated potential of 1,500 GWh. Rice mills produce a large amount of rice-husk as solid residue (around 20% of paddy input), which is a good fuel for producing heat and power. There are very few installations of cogeneration systems in rice mills in the region despite the fact that such systems can act as efficient power generation
installations. On an average, 1 million tons of rice husks could produce 100 MW of electricity, while 5 million tons of rice straw could produce 400 MW. Table 1 WOODY BIOMASS Woody biomass is a good energy resource due to presence of large number of forests in Southeast Asia. Apart from natural forests, non-industrial plantations of different types have emerged as important sources of biomass. The presence of a large number of wood processing industries generates tremendous amount of wood wastes. The annual production of wood wastes in 2005 was more than 30 million m3. The industrial scenario in Indonesia is dominated by wood processing industries located in Central Java which mainly comprise of saw mills, plywood industries, laminated board industries etc. Rubber wood industries are the main source of wood waste in Thailand. In 2003, there were 599 sawmills in Thailand which processed sawdust and wood wastes. Around 1.95 million tonnes of wood residues are generated on a yearly basis in the Philippines. Approximately 73% of these residues are fieldderived, mostly from logging operations. An estimated 40% of total waste wood products are logging residues left in the field. Wood wastes generation in Peninsular Malaysia is also substantial. Saw mills in Vietnam generated 2.27 million m3 of wood residues in 2002. The biomass wastes generated from wood processing industries has been traditionally used by local people for domestic heating purposes. Most of the sawdust and bark remain unutilized as sawmills burn residues to keep the immediate area clean from such wastes. Many wood and paper processing plants already utilise their waste to generate both heat and electricity but more could be exploited, while existing plants are often not the most efficient available. It is difficult to quantify the forest residues that are left behind when trees are felled or those that could become available as a result of good forest management. BIOGAS POWER There is immense potential of biogas power in Southeast Asian countries with its abundant availability of palm oil residue, industrial wastewater and livestock manure. Liquid effluents from palm oil mills can be converted into biogas by anaerobic digestion which can be efficiently to CHP through gas turbines or gas-fired engines. In Malaysia, the palm oil mills produced 46 million tons of palm oil mill effluent (POME) in 2006. In Thailand, the installed capacity of biogas power plants was estimated at 20 MW in 2006 and its generating potential has been valued at 278 MW. Abundant availability of livestock manure in the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand provides investment opportunities for biogas project developers to develop large capacity CHP plants to produce electricity. In addition, food processing industries, slaughter-houses, and tapioca and starch industries generate large amounts of organic wastewater which can be treated to recover biogas. The energy-recovery and environmental benefits that the Khorat waste-to-energy project has already delivered is attracting keen interest from a wide range of food processing industries around the world.
MUNICIPAL SOLID WASTE Another important biomass resource is contributed by municipal solid wastes in heavily populated urban areas of Southeast Asia. The high rate of population growth, urbanization and economic expansion is not only accelerating consumption rates, but also increasing the generation of waste. The MSW generation in Indonesia is the highest in the region and many of its cities are comparable to any other city in the developed world in terms of solid waste generation. In Bangkok, nearly 6,000 tonnes per day of MSW per day is collected, of which around 30% is transferred to landfill facilities outside the metropolitan area while the rest is dumped. In Malaysia, approximately 20,000 tonnes of MSW is generated daily throughout the country. For Kuala Lumpur alone, the waste production is expected to rise to 3200 t/day in 2017. Solid waste generation in the Philippines is estimated at around 50,000 tons per day of which only a small fraction is recycled. The amount of solid waste generated in Vietnam has also been increasing steadily over the last decade. Figure 2 The prevailing scenario for solid waste disposal is its transportation to the nearest available open space and dumping it. Despite the degradation of valuable land resources and creation of long-term environmental and human health problems, uncontrolled open dumping is still prevalent in the region which requires urgent attention due to the associated harmful impacts. Waste-to-energy plants, based on modern combustion and anaerobic digestion technologies, can transform solid waste into clean energy, apart from tackling waste management problems. CONCLUSIONS Biomass resources, particularly residues from forests, wood processing, agricultural crops and agroprocessing, are under-utilised in Southeast Asian countries. There is an urgent need to utilize biomass wastes for commercial electricity and heat production to cater to the needs of the industries as well as urban and rural communities. Current technologies for biomass utilization need urgent improvement towards best practice by making use of the latest trends in the waste-to-energy sector. Southeast Asian countries are yet to make optimum use of the additional power generation potential from biomass waste resources which could help them to partially overcome the long-term problem of energy supply. There can be several routes for dedicated power generation from biomass at various scales of power output. Cogeneration of heat and power from residues in forest-based and agro industries is being increasingly promoted by the private sector, mostly for in-house consumption. In contrast, utility companies in Western countries already supply electricity and heat from biomass to national grids and local communities.
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Figure 1: Biomass-to-biofuel potential in Southeast Asia Biomass
Source: AUM Business Creations Pte Ltd., 2008
Table 1: Availability of agricultural residues for CHP in Southeast Asia (as of 2005) Country Bagasse (1000 tonnes/year) 8,990 Rice Husk (1000 tonnes/year) 11,220 Palm Oil Residues (1000 tonnes/year) 11,250
Figure 2: Municipal solid waste generation (in tonnes per year) in Southeast Asian countries.
200000 180000 160000 140000 120000 100000 180509 80000 60000 40000 20000 20472 0 Malaysia Philippines Thailand Indonesia Vietnam 49952 72042 47364
Source: Authors’ research