Bioenergy calling the shots on Asian fuel supply

Emerging markets have tremendous biomass resources. Such fuels also enjoy commercial advantages due to grid and baseload power availability and a strong willingness from users to pay for electricity. Yet to become a corporate sector, biomass power has avenues to explore to take it away from being made up of mostly isolated one-off projects, captive-generation schemes or public policy/NGO projects.

Biomass power needs to focus on the vertical logistics of the fuel business. Indeed, conventional fuel price rises and demand-side pressures from north Asia point to the adoption of such a logistics chain.

Biomass can compete favourably against fuel oil where incomplete grids exist. For example, Indonesia’s 230 million people live on 17,000 islands, only three of which are part of a national grid tied to baseload power. Yet only 1600 MW of the country’s 50 GW of biomass potential has been used, mostly in corporate captive-power plants, despite a critical shortage of electricity that is exacerbated by a high growth economy.

Even in more grid-developed economies such as Thailand, social awareness has grown, making it virtually impossible to build baseload coal-fired plants, for example.

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