The substitution of conventional fossil fuels with biomass for energy production results both in the reduction of greenhouse gases emissions and in the replacement of non-renewable energy sources. The use of biomass for energy production responds to the growing pressure of government policies towards the achievement of better environmental sustainability of power generation processes. This is particularly true for the agricultural areas of Sicily, where the realization of new economic dynamics can lead to development of a local economic system. However, at present, generating energy from biomass is rather expensive due to both technological limits related to low conversion efficiencies, and logistic costs. In particular, the logistics of biomass fuel supply is complex due to the limited period of availability and the scattered geographical distribution over the territory. The conversion of biomass to energy can be achieved using different production processes. In this paper, after an initial estimation of the energetic potential in the territory of Trapani, the size and the location of a biomass plant for direct production of electric energy by means of combustion and gasification conversion processes, has been investigated. GIS data of biomass growing was used to locate the appropriate sites and sizes of the power plants. Finally, the economical feasibility of biomass utilization has been evaluated over a capacity range from 10 to 30 M, taking into account total capital investments, revenues from energy sale and total operating costs. Moreover, the effect of main variable such as vehicle transport and biomass costs has been analyzed.
Key words: Plant location, agro-residues, economical feasibility.
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