Biomass residues for power generation: A simulation study of their usage at Liberia’s plantations

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This study employs an Agent-Based Model (ABM) to simulate rural electrification in Liberia using biomass residues from Liberia’s major rubber and oil palm plantations. The model is constructed using the NetLogo software (v 5.2.0) [1]. We evaluate the use of gasifiers powered by residues from replanting in major rubber and oil palm plantations, traditionally used for charcoal production. Since several existing plantations intend to expand their areas of operation, we assume an annual replanting rate, enabling steady availability of fuel. Projects are evaluated based on their Net Present Value (NPV) and marginal cost of connection. The electric grid is extended to districts with the highest NPV, thereby forming an electrical network. We employ two decision strategies for the general operation of the model. In the first strategy, Power Plants aim to maximize the level of self-generation to satisfy the plantation’s electricity demand while in the second they maximize the plantation’s producing area. The first strategy results in lower investment costs, higher NPV and lower land requirement, with fewer unelectrified districts. We find that less than 2% of a plantation’s producing area is sufficient to support the networks over a period of 30 years. Residential power consumption patterns neither impact land use nor profitability due to large differences between industrial and residential load consumption patterns. An increase in annual demand growth rates has a negligible impact on the system. However, transmission line costs have a high effect on the electrification patterns.

Research Areas: 
agent-based modeling
renewable energy
Publication Type: 
Master's Thesis
Date Published: 
August 2016
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Full Citation: 
Krishnan, Rashmi. (2016) “Biomass residues for power generation: A simulation study of their usage at Liberia’s plantations.” Master’s Thesis, University of Michigan: Ann Arbor: 1-46.
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