There are a whole lot of benefits from biomass gasification, both economy wise and ecology wise. Speaking of environmental benefits, gasification plants produce significantly lower quantities of air pollutants, which is really a good thing. The process can also reduce the environmental impact of waste disposal because it can use waste products as feedstock, generating valuable products from materials that would otherwise be disposed as wastes.
Gasification’s byproducts are non-hazardous and are readily marketable and also use significantly less water than traditional coal-based power generation, and can be designed so they recycle their process water, discharging none into the surrounding environment.
If that is not convincing, let us look at the economical benefits. Gasification can be used to turn lower-priced feedstocks into valuable products like electricity, substitute natural gas, fuels, chemicals, and fertilizers. For example, a chemical plant can gasify petcoke or high sulfur coal instead of using high-priced natural gas, thereby reducing its operating costs.
While a gasification power plant is capital intensive (like any very large manufacturing plant), its operating costs are potentially lower than conventional processes or coal-fired plants because gasification plants are more efficient and require less back-end pollution control equipment. With continued research and development efforts and commercial operating experience, the cost of these units will continue to decrease. The process also offers wide fuel flexibility. A gasification plant can vary the mix of solid feedstocks, or run on gas or liquid feedstocks—giving it more freedom to adjust to the price and availability of its feedstocks.
Many predict that coal-based power plants and other manufacturing facilities will be required to capture and store CO2, or participate in a carbon cap and trade market. In this scenario, gasification projects will have a cost advantage over conventional technologies.