Profitability of corn cob utilization as a fuel in small residential heating appliances
The subject of this paper is utilization of corn cobs as a fuel in small residential heating appliances in Serbia. The objective was to investigate the profitability of the three cob forms: whole, crushed and pellets. Thereby, construction and reconstruction option of a heating system that uses corn cobs were compared with woody and fossil fuel forms. Net present values (NPV) of generated costs in the first option, as well as NPV of savings, payback period (PBP) and internal rate or return (IRR) in the second, were analyzed. Assessment was conducted using BiomasaPro calculator with integrated approach for energy facility investments. Only utilization of whole cobs were profitable, comparing with wood logs, coal and natural gas. In option construction, around 8,700, 7,000 and more than 4,100 € could be thus saved after the appliance lifespan, respectively. The savings could be 7,800, 5,500 and more than 3,600 € in option reconstruction, with PBP less than two years compared with wood logs and coal, and around 2,5 years with natural gas. Sensitivity analysis showed that utilization of whole cobs could be profitable with up to three times higher purchase price. With bank loan as a financing option for economically weaker biomass users, the scenarios though remain profitable. Subsidy of more than 40% for a heating appliance that uses crushed cobs would allow for profitable investment in comparison with wood chips. Future investigation should comprise assessment including social and environmental aspects, to conclude if corn cobs are a sustainable fuel in Serbia.
More Funding Information
This investigation was financed by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the Ministry of Education, Sciences and Technological Development of Republic of Serbia (Pro-ject no.: III42011) and the German Federal Environmental Foundation (Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt– DBU, Project CoCoEnergy).