Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE credits
The cornerstone of our production system is based on the concept “take, make, waste”. Moreover, the manufacture of a product requires the input of energy and raw materials which produce waste and products. The latter ultimately end up becoming wastes. In other words, the root problem of this production system is that is designed on a linear, one-way cradle-to grave model (McDonough, W. and Braungart, M., 2002). This approach coupled with the population explosion and our thirst for growth has led to an unprecedented pressure to the environment. The consequences are multiple; climate change, dwindling energy resources and waste generation.
This study lies in two pillars: the concept of sustainable development and the waste management hierarchy. The idea was how these two fundamental concerns (energy generation and waste production) could be tackled. This study assesses the availability of biomass residues and wastes in the off-grid island of Crete with the aim to ‘close the loop’ by converting waste to an energy resource. In addition, the exploration of the most sustainable energy generation solutions was attempted in order to drive forward the synergies between biomass waste production and energy generation.
The collected information was extracted from the literature about agricultural, livestock, Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) and Industrial & Commercial (I&C) waste. It is also based on numerous interviews to waste management associations, the Greek Ministry of Rural Development & Food and all the Waste Water Treatment Plants in the island were analysed in order to shed light on the potential energy generation from all the aforementioned biomass sources and its contribution to the electric energy production system of Crete.
It is considered that the biomass potential in Crete is a sleeping giant. There is considerable potential for biomass-to-energy technologies in Crete providing improved rural energy services based on agricultural residues. From the findings of this study it appears that the biomass potential is more than estimated in previous papers. Based on the findings it is concluded that the largest portion of Crete’s biomass potential is agricultural residues and animal wastes. The utilisation of low-cost biomass power in Crete could help provide cleaner, more efficient energy services and to reduce the island’s economic and environmental vulnerability. Biomass can provide both base load power and turn into liquid transportation fuels and contributes to reducing energy dependence due to import fuel from the mainland.
In terms of the study’s goal to select the most sustainably viable biomass-to-energy technologies, that was based on the multi-criteria methodology. A number of integrated biomass-to-energy alternatives were assessed against technical, environmental, financial and social criteria with the aim to assist the regional authority’s decision making process of energy generation planning.
From the final screening of the integrated biomass-to-energy alternatives it was concluded that the best in a descending order technologies from the regional authority’s standpoint are:
F - Anaerobic digestion & Fuel cell;
E – Anaerobic digestion & Gas engine;
C - Gasification & Gas engine;
A – Combustion & Steam turbine; and
B – Gasification & Steam turbine.
Biomass residues, biomass waste, renewable energy, power generation technologies, sustainable development, off-grid, multi-criteria analysis.