Decision support for lifecycle planning and risk management of small-scale biomass combined heat and power (bCHP) projects in the UK

  • Daniel Wright

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Biomass is projected to account for approximately half of the new energy production required to
achieve the 2020 primary energy target in the UK. Combined heat and power (CHP) bioenergy
systems are not only a highly efficient method of energy conversion, at smaller-scales a significant proportion of the heat produced can be effectively utilised for hot water, space heating or industrial heating purposes. However, there are many barriers to project development and this has greatly inhibited deployment in the UK. Project viability is highly subjective to changes in policy, regulation, the finance market and the low cost incumbent; a high carbon centralised energy system.
Unidentified or unmitigated barriers occurring during the project lifecycle may not only negatively impact on the project but could ultimately lead to project failure. The research develops a decision support system (DSS) for small-scale (500 kWe to 10 MWe)
biomass combustion CHP project development and risk management in the early stages of a potential project’s lifecycle. By supporting developers in the early stages of project development with financial, scheduling and risk management analysis, the research aims to reduce the barriers identified and streamline decision-making. A fuzzy methodology is also applied throughout the developed DSS to support developers in handling the uncertain or approximate information often held at the early stages of the project lifecycle.
The DSS is applied to a case study of a recently failed (2011) small-scale biomass CHP project to
demonstrate its applicability and benefits. The application highlights that the proposed development
within the case study was not viable. Moreover, further analysis of the possible barriers with the DSS
confirmed that some possible modifications to be project could have improved this, such as a
possible change of feedstock to a waste or residue, addressing the unnecessary land lease cost or by
increasing heat utilisation onsite. This analysis is further supported by a practitioner evaluation
survey that confirms the research contribution and objectives are achieved.
Date of Award19 Jun 2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aston University
SupervisorPrasanta Dey (Supervisor) & John G Brammer (Supervisor)


  • decision support system
  • combined heat and power
  • project development
  • fuzzy set theory

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