A review of biomass co-firing in North America

Ezinwa Agbor, Xiaolei Zhang, Amit Kumar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Citations (Scopus)


Biomass fuels have long been accepted as useful renewable energy sources, especially in mitigating greenhouse gases (GHG), nitrogen oxides, and sulfur oxide emissions. Biomass fuel is carbon neutral and is usually low in both nitrogen and sulfur. For the past decade, various forms of biomass fuels have been co-combusted in existing coal-fired boilers and gas-fired power plants. Biomass is used as a supplemental fuel to substitute for up to 10% of the base fuel in most full commercial operations. There are several successful co-firing projects in many parts of the world, particularly in Europe and North America. However, despite remarkable commercial success in Europe, most of the biomass co-firing in North America is limited to demonstration levels. This review takes a detailed look at several aspects of biomass co-firing with a direct focus on North America. It also explores the benefits, such as the reduction of GHG emissions and its implications. This paper shows the results of our studies of the biomass resources available in North America that can be used in coal-fired boilers, their availability and transportation to the power plant, available co-firing levels and technologies, and various technological and environmental issues associated with biomass co-firing. Finally, the paper proffers solutions to help utility companies explore biomass co-firing as a transitional option towards a completely carbon-free power sector in North America.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)930-943
Number of pages14
JournalRenewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2014


  • biomass fuels
  • biomass co-firing
  • GHG emission
  • co-firing issues
  • biomass pre-treatment
  • North Amierica


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