In this study, the structures of external costs are built in line with coal-fired and biomass power plant life cycle activities in Northeast China. The external cost of coal-fired and biomass power plants was compared, using the lifecycle approach. In addition, the external costs of a biomass power plant are calculated for each stage for comparison with those of a coal-fired power plant. The results highlight that the external costs of a coal-fired plant are 0.072 US $/kWh, which are much higher than that of a biomass power plant, 0.00012 US$/kWh. The external cost of coal-fired power generation is as much as 90% of the current price of electricity generated by coal, while the external cost of a biomass power plant is 1/1000 of the current price of electricity generated by biomass. In addition, for a biomass power plant, the external cost associated with SO2, NOX, and PM2.5 are particularly lower than those of a coal-fired power plant. The prospect of establishing precise estimations for external cost mechanisms and sustainable energy policies is discussed to show a possible direction for future energy schemes in China. The paper has significant value for supporting the biomass power industry and taxing or regulating coal-fired power industry to optimize the energy structure in China.