Generating Electricity from Agricultural Residue Biomass in Bolivia; A GIS and Techno-economic Analysis

  • Author / Creator
    Morato Lopez, Ana Teresa
  • Agricultural residues, a renewable source of energy, are widely available in Bolivia. Using agricultural residues to generate electricity on a large scale could decrease dependence on fossil fuels and provide a secure energy supply. Although the country depends on natural gas to generate electricity, the share of renewable energies in the power portfolio is expected to increase from 36% in 2015 to 78% in 2025. A significant portion will be covered by hydro, followed by solar and wind. However, there are currently no initiatives that consider using biomass to generate electricity on a large scale. The present study is focused on electricity generation in Bolivia using agricultural residues. Most of the time, agricultural residues are left on fields for soil conservation or simply burned, thereby increasing air pollution. Through a biomass quantification process, this study estimated biomass availability to be 3.8 M dry t/yr. The biomass logistics involve collecting and baling the dispersed agricultural residues and moving the bales to biomass collection points (BCPs) for truck pick-up and further delivery to the energy conversion facility. A framework was developed in a GIS environment for locating BCPs considering biomass yield variation and proximity to road networks. The framework was applied to Bolivia, and 107 BCPs were sited to collect altogether 1.5 M dry t/yr. In order to assess the suitability of sites for bioenergy facilities, social, environmental, and economic factors were considered in GIS-based models. Since biomass transportation is a key parameter, mostly due to associated emissions and costs, a network analysis was conducted to optimally locate bioenergy facilities such that the weighted transportation distance was minimized. The conversion technology considered was combustion (grate-firing and fluidized bed). The levelized cost of electricity (LCOE), considered as an economic indicator, includes only the feedstock cost, capital cost, and operating and maintenance cost so that it can be compared with existing studies and technologies. The LCOE was estimated for a wide range of plant sizes (10-600 MW). The lowest LCOE was estimated at 111 $/MWh for fluidized bed technology at an optimal power plant size of 300 MW. The energy cost during the first year of generating electricity was estimated at 71.6 $/MWh, well above than the actual energy cost of 19.5 $/MWh, which is low because of the natural gas subsidy. If policies change in favor of renewable energies and the fossil fuel subsidy is removed, biomass becomes competitive. The results and analysis of this study are expected to provide information for, and increase the attention of, policy makers about a potential source that has not yet been well exploited.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2018
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Science
  • DOI
  • License
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