Pre-conversion process (PCP) is a technology that can convert biomass into denser energy carriers that ease transportation and handling for biomass-to-liquid (BTL) plants. This paper assesses three existing PCP technologies in three location scenarios. The assessed PCP technologies are rotating cone reactor pyrolysis (RCRP), fluidized bed reactor pyrolysis (FBRP) and torrefaction (TOR/TOP) technology. The BTL plant is assumed to be located in the Netherlands, while the PCP plants can be distributed outside of the Netherlands, or centralized in the same complex as the BTL plant. Alternatively, the PCP plants can be centralized in one complex outside of the Netherlands. The assessment considers factors like biomass price, forest yield, transportation distance, capital investment of the PCP and BTL plants, and operating costs of those plants. Furthermore, this work proposes a modification of the existing FBRP technology to avoid the usage of fossil fuels for its energy supply. The original design is called 'FBRP Non-green', while the modified one is called 'FBRP Green'. The costs of the CO avoided for different PCP-BTL plants and corresponding location scenarios were also compared. Based on the assessment, the torrefaction technology with distributed scenario for the production of 1000 MWsynthesis gas (syngas) is the most cost-effective and the greenest option. © 2009 Society of Chemical Industry and John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.