The biopower model is a performance- and cost-modeling tool for assessing the biomass power resource of a location. SAM can model biopower plants that use crop and wood residues as a feedstock and a grate stoker furnace, fluidized bed combustor, or cyclone furnace coupled to a steam ranking cycle for electricity generation. It can also model a supplementary coal feedstock for a co-fired plant, or completely coal-fed power plant for comparison with a biopower option. You can also specify custom feedstocks.

SAM models biomass combustion power systems. It does not model biomass digesters or gasifiers. It also does not model thermal loads for biomass power systems.

SAM can access and download data from the NREL Biofuels Atlas to quantify the type and amount of biomass available at the project location.

You specify the basic mass and energy balances for the plant's combustor and steam turbine.

SAM generates performance metrics such as heat rate, thermal efficiency, and capacity factor. It also generates financial metrics such as the levelized cost of energy (LCOE), net present value (NPV), and payback period.

Dedicated biomass power facilities are generally on the order of 1 – 60 MW, but SAM can evaluate plants of any size.

Jorgenson, J.; Gilman, P.; Dobos, A. (2011). Technical Manual for the SAM Biomass Power Generation Model. 40 pp.; NREL Report No. TP-6A20-52688. (PDF 728 kB)

When you create a new case or file, SAM populates inputs with default values to help you get started with your analysis. So, if you create a case for a utility-scale biomass combustion power project with a single owner, SAM populates the inputs on the Financing and System Costs pages with values that are reasonable for a biopower project for power generation in the United States. The default values are just a starting point: As you develop and refine your analysis, you should change the inputs to values that are appropriate for your analysis scenario.

The default biomass power capital costs in SAM are from the documents listed below.

EPA Combined Heat and Power Partnership. (2007). CHP Project Development Handbook. 85 pp.; (PDF 1.3 MB)

Bain, R. L.; Amos, W. P.; Downing, M.; Perlack, R. L. (2003). Biopower Technical Assessment: State of the Industry and the Technology. 277 pp.; NREL Report No. TP-510-33123. (PDF 4.4 MB)

Default biomass transportation costs are from:

Mahmudi, H.; Flynn, P. C. (2006). Rail vs truck transport of biomass. Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology 129-132:88-103. (PubMed.gov Citation)

Default feedstock costs are from:

Biomass Research and Development Board. (2008). The economics of biomass feedstocks in the United States: A review of the literature. Biomass Research and Development Initiative. (PDF 495 KB)