Abstract : Co-firing biomass with coal is a relatively low-cost technology to utilize biomass for electricity production compared to dedicated biomass power plant. Co-firing could help to reduce the negative impact of coal power plants to economy, environment and society. Vietnam has potential to develop co-firing base on the abundant of biomass resources and because Vietnam will continue to build more coal-fired power plant in the next 2 decades as stated in the latest National Power Development Plan.
Among the co-firing technologies, direct co-firing is the most suitable for Vietnam context. Despite of low biomass ratio, direct co-firing offers low investment cost and could utilize most of the biomass feedstock. Vietnam has huge biomass potential, especially the agriculture and forestry residues. These biomasses should be considered first as feedstock for co-firing. Biomass pellets is also a good choice in term of technical features and local supply. However, the price of pellets is not yet competitive with coal or agricultural residues.
Economic benefit of co-firing would be higher in the plants that has following features: assess to stable biomass supply, biomass price competitive with coal, incentives and support in term of market for renewable energy utilization and waste reduction. Vietnam should start experimenting co-firing in the coal power plants that located in the area where biomass resource is available, easy to collect and deliver to the plant, using imported coal such as Vinh Tan 2, Duyen Hai 1, Long Phuoc 1…; or the plants that are soon or already depreciated such as Ninh Binh, Uong Bi or Pha Lai to utilize the existing infrastructures.
The case study of co-firing 5% rice straw with coal in Ninh Binh Coal Power Plant shows that co-firing could bring benefit to the plant owner in the condition that lack supporting mechanism for co-firing as well as with the absent of carbon credit. Farmers and workers that work in biomass supply chain also benefit from co-firing, especially farmers. In addition, co-firing provide significant positive externalities, in which the most notable is health benefit from reducing air-borne pollutants. Greenhouse gas emissions reduction adds a small part to the overall benefit of co-firing.