Feasibility Study into the Potential for Gasification Plant in the New Zealand Wood Processing Industry
Thesis DisciplineChemical Engineering
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Engineering
The purpose of this research was to investigate the feasibility of installing gasification based combined heat and power plants in the New Zealand wood processing industry. This is in accordance with Objective Four of the BIGAS Consortium.
This thesis builds on previous work on Objective Four (Rutherford, 2006) where integration into MDF (Medium Density Fibreboard) was investigated. The previous research identified the most suitable form of combined heat and power was a BIG-GE (Biomass Integrated Gasification Gas Engine) process, due to both lower capital investment and overall breakeven electricity production cost. This technology has therefore been adopted, and the investigation has been carried further in this research to incorporate integration into sawmills and LVL (Laminated Veneer Lumber) plants.
It is recognised, however, especially when reviewing overseas successes and failures, that the base economics are only one factor in the feasibility of a plant. The research, therefore, has moved further to investigate New Zealand policy, the power market, lower capital alternatives and novel methods of integration.
The conclusion of the study is gasification based combined heat and power plants in the New Zealand wood processing industry can be equal or better in economic terms than other forms of renewable generation, however, the application is very niche. Lower capital cost alternatives, stable and low priced biomass feed and a favourable power market in regards to distributed generation is key to the viability of such a plant.
Government policy is favourable towards biomass gasification due to the target of 90% electrical generation by renewable resources by 2025. Distributed generation is also encouraged in the Government’s forward strategy. However, the technology has advanced further overseas due to capital grants and a premium paid for ‘green’ electricity. While the technology may be economic in its own right, active government support would lower the perceived risk increasing the likelihood of an investor taking interest in an initial project.