With a growing energy demand in a carbon-constrained society, fuels cells powered by renewable fuels, and specifically solid waste, are seen as interesting contributors to the energy portfolio. The alternative energy industry needs to reduce costs, enhance efficiency, and demonstrate durability and reliability to be economically feasible and attractive. This paper addresses biomass waste gasification in distributed energy systems, using a solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) to produce electricity and heat. The potential and optimal plant efficiency and layout (i.e., anode off-gas (AOG) recirculation point via small-scale turbomachinery and heat exchanger network) are analyzed through a multi-stage approach that includes scenario evaluation and multi-objective optimization via a hybrid optimization strategy with heuristics and mathematical programming. The results in this paper summarize the most convenient operating conditions and provide an optimized heat exchanger network (HEN). The AOG recirculation toward the gasifier combustor is the preferred option; the electrical and thermal efficiencies can separately go up to 49 and 47%, respectively. The combined total efficiency ranges between 76 and 82%, and the area of heat exchange, which corresponds to an amount of heat exchanged between 91 and 117 kW, is within 6–14 m 2.