Biomass CHP: Steam turbine

Find out about biomass steam boilers, their typical outputs and costs and the pros and cons of using a steam turbine in your biomass CHP system.

Back to: Biomass combined heat and power (CHP)

What are steam boilers?

Biomass steam boilers use standard combustion principles, with automatic fuel delivery and adjustment of combustion air to optimise burning efficiency. By using standard combustion, the quality of the biomass fuel is less critical and the user has more flexibility regarding the biomass fuel type and supplier.

The steam boiler is normally mounted directly on top of the combustion chamber, ensuring a simple, compact design and efficient heat transfer. For most horticultural applications using steam biomass CHP, the electricity will be generated by a steam turbine operating at relatively low pressure.

Biomass steam-driven CHP systems are a versatile option, as they are based on tried-and-tested technology using common-place design and components.

Typical outputs and costs

Electrical output

Heat output

Indicative cost

Tonnes of fuel per day*


200 kW

2.5 MW



Good quality wood chip

500 kW

3.5 MW



Good quality wood chip

1 MW

4 MW



Lower quality wood chip

2 MW

8 MW



Lower quality wood chip

*24 hour operation

Pros and cons of steam turbine


  • Can be configured to run on cheaper recycled timber or wet wood
  • Highly incentivised through government subsidies
  • Can provide high-temperature waste heat up to 150°C


  • High operation and maintenance costs on high-pressure steam
  • High initial outlay
  • High proportion of heat to electricity

Useful links

Go to Biomass CHP: Gasification

Go to Biomass CHP: ORC turbine (Organic Rankine Cycle)

Go to Biomass CHP: What about CO2?

Got a question? Ask a member of the team:

Image of staff member Nathalie Key

Nathalie Key

Knowledge Exchange Manager (Protected Edibles, Vine Crops, Mushrooms)

Biomass steam driven CHP

Biomass steam driven CHP. Image courtesy of NFU Energy.

Image courtesy of NFU energy.