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Open AccessArticle

Carbon Debt Payback Time for a Biomass Fired CHP Plant—A Case Study from Northern Europe

Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, University of Copenhagen, Rolighedsvej 23, 1958 Frederiksberg C, Denmark
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Current Affiliation: Viegand Maagøe A/S, Nørre Farimagsgade 37, 1364 Copenhagen K, Denmark. Research was conducted, while affiliated with the Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, University of Copenhagen.
Energies 2018, 11(4), 807; https://doi.org/10.3390/en11040807
Received: 22 January 2018 / Revised: 20 March 2018 / Accepted: 23 March 2018 / Published: 31 March 2018
The European Union (EU) has experienced a large increase in the use of biomass for energy in the last decades. In 2015, biomass used to generate electricity, heat, and to a limited extent, liquid fuels accounted for 51% of the EU’s renewable energy production. Bioenergy use is expected to grow substantially to meet energy and climate targets for 2020 and beyond. This development has resulted in analyses suggesting the increased use of biomass for energy might initially lead to increased greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to the atmosphere, a so-called carbon debt. Here, we analyze carbon debt and payback time of substituting coal with forest residues for combined heat and power generation (CHP). The analysis is, in contrast to most other studies, based on empirical data from a retrofit of a CHP plant in northern Europe. The results corroborate findings of a carbon debt, here 4.4 kg CO2eq GJ−1. The carbon debt has a payback time of one year after conversion, and furthermore, the results show that GHG emissions are reduced to 50% relative to continued coal combustion after about 12 years. The findings support the use of residue biomass for energy as an effective means for climate change mitigation. View Full-Text
Keywords: carbon debt; bioenergy; forest residues; payback time; combined heat and power (CHP) carbon debt; bioenergy; forest residues; payback time; combined heat and power (CHP)
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Madsen, K.; Bentsen, N.S. Carbon Debt Payback Time for a Biomass Fired CHP Plant—A Case Study from Northern Europe. Energies 2018, 11, 807.

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