Manufacturing Sustainability: Green Manufacturing News

Login Register

Biomass for Biogas and Power

Rotterdam, Netherlands
March 24, 2011

A 1-day introduction to the science, technology and economics of Biogas and other Biopower solutions.

Course objectives

Designed specifically to be accessible to non-experts and the commercially-minded, this course describes the various feedstock sources and processes through which biomass can be converted into biogas and/or electrical power. It is particularly aimed at non-engineers who need to understand the basics of the science and technology but want them explained in a simple, hype-free manner and within a clear economic and commercial context.

It provides an excellent basic grounding for business people from a variety of sectors including biomass supply (e.g. agriculture, waste, forestry), processing (e.g. biogas and biopower facilities or equipment), energy distribution and end-use (e.g. power utilities); plus investors or regulators across the supply chain.


Although the course includes scientific and technical information and terminology, we assume no prior technical knowledge – indeed a key aim is to demystify the terminology and language you will encounter within the bioenergy industries.

The course runs in a friendly, informal manner, encouraging discussions and questions to ensure that participants get the most out of their time. In order to better understand and illustrate the various topics, some simple calculations and other explanatory exercises may be incorporated.

Approximate Timing

Course begins:                     09:00
Course ends:                        17:00

(Timings are approximate and include lunch plus morning and afternoon refreshment breaks)

Agenda Details

Biogas and Biopower Markets and Feedstocks

  • Applications of biopower, both via biogas and direct from biomass.
  • Other markets for biogas, via upgrading to biomethane
  • The fundamentals of biomass feedstock, including energy content, chemical and physical properties, ease of conversion.
  • Types of feedstock (including first, second, third and subsequent generations).
  • Sources and security of feedstock supplies (including energy crops, animal and human wastes, landfill etc.).
  • Navigating the maze of terminology: digestion, pyrolysis, gasification, FT synthesis, W2E, upgrading and more.  

Biogas Conversion Pathways

  • “Natural” vs. Thermochemical gasification processes
  • Feedstock options; including crops, animal and other wastes
  • Biomass pre-processing.
  • Pathways to methane, hydrogen and other useful gas fuels
  • Key processes, including anaerobic digestion, landfill gas capture and thermal gasification
  • Applications and uses of biomass-derived gases;
    • Low-calorie biogas uses
    • Upgrading and grid-injected biomethane
  • Market and supply chain issues
  • Current Biogas activities and examples


  • Contrasting biomass pathways and processes for power with those for fuels
  • Direct biomass-to-power conversions vs. biomass-to-gas-to-power
  • Integrating biomass with fossil fuel power production: co-firing
  • Understanding power markets, pricing and competition
  • Levelised electricity cost as a method for comparing power technologies: how it is calculated and which factors affect it.
  • Power-only vs. CHP (combined heat and power)
  • Current Biopower activities and examples

Other Market Factors and Economics

  • The competitive context of biogas and biopower.
  • Pros and cons of biomass as compared to its conventional and renewable competitors.
  • Cost contributions, scales and factors.
  • Regulations, government support schemes and bioenergy economics.
  • Bioenergy in the wider global energy landscape including: peak oil, energy security, climate change and other socio-political aspects and lobbyists.
  • Carbon markets (and other carbon reduction mechanisms) and bioenergy.