Microscale Biomass Generation for Continuous Power Supply to Remote Customers

  • Mathias Loeser

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Remotely located and sparsely populated areas often do not have access to an efficient grid connection for electricity supply. However, plenty of biomass is normally available in such areas. Instead of employing island solutions such as small diesel generators or large battery stacks for power provision, a flexibly operating microscale biomass power plant using locally available and renewable feedstock is not only an efficient way of providing those areas with competitive and reliable electricity, but also a step towards energy self sufficiency for a large share of areas worldwide, and towards mitigating the looming high costs of grid infrastructure upgrading and extension.

A novel power plant design combining thermo chemical and biochemical biomass treatment was developed in this research. This system consists of a small scale gasifier and an anaerobic digester unit, both coupled to a gas storage system and a micro turbine as the generation unit. This design is suitable to continuously provide reliable electricity and accommodate fluctuating residential power demand, and it can be scaled to a level of around 100kWe, which is a fitting size for a group of residential customers, such as in a remote village.

The project covers a review of available technology; the choice of suitable technology for such a plant and the design of the system; the set up of a detailed plant model in chemical engineering software; extensive simulation studies on the basis of load profiles to evaluate and optimise operation; and feedstock sourcing, efficiency and economic analyses.

It will be shown that such a system is a feasible and economic solution for remote power supply, and that it can overcome many of the current obstacles of electrifying rural regions.
Date of Award1 Jul 2010
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorMiles Redfern (Supervisor) & Geoff Hammond (Supervisor)

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