North America’s largest coal plant could convert to biomass

Such a switch would not be easy, but Canada is considering doing it.

Figuring out how to burn biomass such as wood or switchgrass pellets could solve many problems at once. The government could make good on its commitment to phase out coal. It could keep a sizeable amount of electricity generation in the area without having to build new transmission lines or plants, whether nuclear or natural gas.

One problem. Where to find that much biomass on an ongoing sustainable basis that doesn’t drive up prices. Switchgrass grows easily on non-agricultural land, and thus would be a possible choice.

Dozens of Scandinavian power plants in burn biomass as fuel. In August, Atlanta-based Georgia Power asked its local electricity regulator if it could convert one of its 100-megawatt coal plants to wood.

So, it is doable.

One comment

  1. It’s good to see the utilities decreasing their reliance on coal. My only concern is whether powering the plant with wood is the right way to go. Where is all this wood going to come from, and if it has to be grown, how much land will have to be taken up to produce enough wood?

    All the environmental and social impacts of these plans need to be taken into account.

    Perhaps it is better to use other biomass, such as fuels from waste, for the power plant?

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