Renewable Energy

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University of Strathclyde Mechanical Engineering Department

Socio-Economic Impacts of Biomass Deployment for the Production of Heat and Electricity

Thesis submitted for the MSc degree Energy Systems and the Environment

Helen Stavroulia 2003

The copyright of this thesis belongs to the author under the terms of the United Kingdom copyright acts as qualified by the University of Strathclyde Regulation 3.49. Due acknowledgement must always be made of the use of any material contained in or derived from this thesis.

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Acknowledgements
The following people have helped me throughout the completion of this thesis and of the MSc course and I would like to express my gratitude to them. My supervisor, Pr.Umit Bititci, for his insight, help and support during the research and writing of the thesis. Dr. Chris Bronsdon, Director of SEEF, for his remarks and valuable guidance and for our conversations on practical problems. Pr. Joe Clarke, the Course Director, and the academic and administrative staff of the Department, for their valuable support throughout the course. All my friends and classmates for their moral and psychological help. My parents, for their absolute faith in me.

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Abstract
Today, concerns about the environmental impacts associated with fossil fuel use, particularly the global climate change, have added new immediacy to the development of alternative energy systems. Biomass energy systems are among the alternative systems under development. There is enormous biomass potential that can be tapped by improving the utilisation of existing sources, developing more efficient and advanced technologies to convert raw biomass into easy-to-use carriers (electricity, liquid or gaseous fuels, processed solid fuels) and by increasing plant productivity. Therefore, much more useful energy could be extracted from biomass than at present, bringing significant social and economic benefits to both rural and urban areas and to the environment. The present thesis attempts to investigate the different renewable sources and to set the main reasons for supporting their use. It focuses on biomass and looks through the technologies used to convert it into useful energy. It tries to evaluate the social, economic and environmental impacts of bioenergy production systems. It presents the obstacles – known as externalities - that still hinder the extensive implementation of biomass energy. This theoretical approach is followed by the development and trial of a model for the financial evaluation of a biomass project. This is going to be a preliminary tool for planners and developers, used for the evaluation of the financial viability of a biomass project and for the analysis of the social, economic (financial and employment) and environmental impacts of the project in the local economy. This thesis will conclude that there are significant opportunities related with the development and commercialisation of biomass conversion technologies, the growth of energy crops and their management, and the operation of biomass energy projects. It will also be seen that when rough comparisons are attempted, initial results indicate that biomass energy net external costs may be lower than those of conventional energy sources. In the case of global warming and erosion, particularly, the difference between biomass and coal externalities may account for more than the difference in their production prices.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION------------------------------------------------------------ 7 1.1 The picture today---------------------------------------------------------------------- 7 1.2 Objectives of the thesis --------------------------------------------------------------- 8 CHAPTER 2 RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES ----------------------------------- 9 2.1 Introduction ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- 9 2.2 Types of Renewable Energy Sources...
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