Biomass Power Stations in Fire-prone Areas by Trialballoon
Ridwan D. Rusli
Aug 16, 2017
To ensure effectiveness as well as economic feasibility and or reduce required public funding, key is where to locate and how to size these power stations. Since such fire-prone areas can be in remote locations far from typical demand centers, the cost of transport of the resulting energy/electricity is key.
Aug 17, 2017
There are a few considerations here. One is the waste of energy and CO2 production in wildfires. The other is the danger that wildfires often present to populated areas. Obviously wildfire risk areas close to populated areas do not have as much of an energy transportation issue. In more remote areas, the energy might be used productively "off-grid", say, to pump water from low areas less prone to wildfires, up to the more risky areas where the water could be used to fight wildfires. This would reduce the cost of fighting wildfires and reduce their impact by having more resources available to fight the fires which would minimize the fire's spread. The water could be stored in low-tech man-made lakes and used either to fight wildfires or to produce hydroelectric power when needed for other tasks like harvesting biomass with electric vehicles.
Sep 7, 2017
it seems that your proposal will be applied in USA. Be carefull that in any country legal rules regulate the topic. Therefore you should consider the legal factor.
Sep 10, 2017
Dana -- this is an interesting proposal, but I think still has some important points to work through. From the perspective of simply generating power, this seems very feasible. However, given that this proposal system is intended to be for projects that could potentially reduce the factors contributing to climate change, I don't know that it meets that standard. At the same time, there could be a case to be made for burning this biomass in a plant, which could include scrubbing technology, thereby releasing fewer greenhouse gases through burning of the biomass in a controlled process, rather than in a wildfire.
Your idea of a tinder tax is interesting. With the situations in the Western states in recent years, I could certainly see some municipalities, counties, and potentially even states moving towards something like that. However, I think it could become quite difficult and complex to determine who should pay how much, and why (but I won't dig into that any further, since your proposal isn't specifically for a tinder tax).
Similar to a few of the previous comments, the economics of such a plant would be important to get right. I'd be interested in seeing some rough numbers as to 1) approximately how much such a plant would cost to build, 2) how much it would cost to operate on an ongoing basis (how much, if any, is being paid for the biomass stock? how much does it cost to transport the biomass to the plant site? etc.), and 3) how much electric energy could be produced for a given amount of biomass stock?
Some other things that would be important to think about are related to the timing of the availability of the biomass stock, and the timing of the creation of the electric energy. It seems like there will be certain seasons each year where there would be much biomass to harvest and be used, while in other seasons of the year there might be relatively little. This would directly affect how much electric energy could be produced, and in what months of the year. On a similar note, another important consideration would be the time of day the electric energy is produced. It would be important to align the production with the local/regional electric demand, and this may or may not be possible with using local biomass as fuel stock.