Development of Biomass Power Generation in China: Constraints and Measures for Perfection

Article excerpt


Having started late in China, the development of biomass power generation currently encounters many restraining factors, such as the inconclusive biomass resources distribution, the obstructed supply channel of raw materials, the weak foundation of technology industrialization, the immature market mechanism, imperfect relevant laws and regulations, as well as unfriendly market environment. By reviewing the development of biomass power generation industry in foreign countries and analyzing China's present conditions, this paper puts forward some counter measure for the orderly development of China's biomass power generation.

Key words: biomass power generation, generation cost, R & D, financing channels

1. The Current Development of Biomass Power Generation Industry in China

1.1 Continuous Expansion of Biomass Power Generation in China

The raw material for biomass power generation is mainly agricultural wastes, forestry waste, and industrial waste, which are directly burned or gasified for power generation. The Renewable Energy Law of China issued in 2005 stipulates that "the Government encourages and supports the integration of biomass power into the grid", and its promulgation and implementation provides the legal guarantee and lays the foundation for biomass power generation in China. With the related supporting laws, regulations, and polices for implementation of the law being published in succession, China's biomass power generation has enjoyed an unprecedented growth. By the end of 2005, China's overall biomass power generating capacity amounted to 2000 MW, of which the power generation using crane wastes took up a larger part, and the rest was generated through gasification of rice hulls. Since 2005, three power generation demonstration projects based on straw have been completed, and the straw power generation witnessed a rapid development. Meanwhile, the construction of refuse incineration power plants has been accelerated.

By the end of 2009, some 170 biomass generation projects have been approved by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), totaling 4,600 MW of generating capacity. Fifty projects have been put into operation, totaling 1,110 MW. By the end of 2010, the total generating capacity of biomass power reached 5,550 MW. The production capacity of China's biomass power generation continues to grow.

1.2 Biomass Power Generation Enterprises as Large-scale Business Operation Model

With the continuous expansion of the industry, biomass power generation enterprises have been undertaking a transition to large-scale business operation model. Established in 2005, National Bio-energy Group has become the world's largest professional company integrating business investment, construction, and operation of biomass power generation projects. The company has nearly 50 biomass power plants in Shandong, Hebei, Henan, Jiangsu, Heilongjiang, Jilin, Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, Hubei, and Shaanxi, with a total of 10 billion Yuan of investment and annual revenue of 3 billion Yuan. Eighty percent of refuse incineration power plants of the company were built in the last five years. Leading businesses for the related technology development, manufacture of the power generators, investment, and logistics service have been consolidated within the group.

1.3 Wide Distribution of Biomass Power Generation Projects

Biomass power generation plants using crop straw are mainly concentrated in agricultural areas. By the end of 2006, there had been 34 crop straw power generation projects under construction across the country with a total of 1,200 MW of generating capacity. By the end of 2010, Shandong province had put into operation 27 biomass generation plants totaling 642 MW of generating capacity, which provided 1.3 billion KWh of green energy.

Although starting late in China, the refuse incineration power generation has grown very fast in recent years. …