Assessment of biomass energy sources and technologies: The case of Central America Articles uri icon

publication date

  • May 2016

start page

  • 1411

end page

  • 1431


  • 58

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1364-0321

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1879-0690


  • This paper reviews and assesses conditions for increased and efficient use of biomass in Central America (CA), providing an overview of conditions for biomass supply in each country. Then, a Fuzzy Multi-Actor Multi-Criteria Decision-Making (MCDM) method is applied to identify a portfolio of biomass conversion technologies appropriate for CA, considering technical, economic, environmental and socio-political aspects. The work is motivated by the relatively large availability of biomass in CA at the same time as current conversion of biomass is carried out in inefficient processes. The assessment of technologies includes thermochemical processes (pyrolysis, combustion and gasification) for production of different energy carriers, including improved cooking stoves (ICSs). The most promising biomass feedstocks in the region are residue based; animal (manure), forest and agricultural origin. We show that around 250 PJ/year could be available for the energy sector, which is equivalent to 34% of primary energy supply for CA. It is concluded that in the short term promoting and implementing ICSs will give the largest improvement in the efficiency of biomass use, whereas on the long term small combustion plants seem to be the best choice for transforming CA's biomass into a clean and sustainable energy carriers, boosting economy and industrial development. Results show that the introduction of ICSs will result in an annual saving in the range of 4-8 Mt of fuelwood (59-113 PJ). Moreover, even when the investment cost of the cooking stoves is considered, ICSs yield economic savings to fuelwood consumers compared to traditional stoves. The total savings during the first year of implementation would be in the range of 19-152 US$/stove. (C) 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


  • Industrial Engineering


  • biomass; bioenergy; central america; multi-criteria decision-making; technology assessment; sugar mills; electricity generation; bioenergy production; power generation; sweet sorghum; gasification; resources; bagasse; combustion; conversion