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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Waste Management taps clean power from garbage

NEW YORK, June 27 (Reuters) - Waste Management Inc. said on Wednesday it will speed up its tapping of gas from rotting garbage to generate clean power from 60 landfills over five years.

The company, the country's largest landfill operator, will spend $400 million to bring turbines to the dumps, boosting its power generation from such projects to to 700 megawatts of power a year, or enough power for about 700,000 homes, the company said.

Waste Management will earn renewable energy credits it can bank or sell for its projects in states that have such programs.

Alternative energy sources are growing in the United States amid high oil and natural gas prices and as the U.S. Congress debates bills that would put limits on greenhouse gases.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says about 425 U.S. landfills tap gas for power and an additional 560 dumps hold promising supplies of the fuel.

Waste Management said landfills are more dependable than other sources of alternative energy.

"Unlike wind power, which doesn't always blow, or solar which doesn't always shine, landfills produce gas constantly," Paul Pabor, Waste Management's vice president of renewable energy, said in an interview.

Separately on Wednesday, Fujifilm said it would use landfill gas to power 40 percent of its manufacturing complex in South Carolina while cutting heat-trapping gases 10 percent.

Rotting garbage produces a gas that is about half methane, which has about 20 times the heat-trapping potential of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas. Most landfills simply vent the gas to the atmosphere and those dumps are the largest source of human-related methane emissions in the country, according to the EPA.

Pabor said landfills are often placed near urban areas which makes it more convenient than some other alternative sources of power, like wind turbine farms, which can sometimes be placed far from customers.

Waste Management first generated power from garbage in the United States more than 20 years ago and about 100 of its 281 landfills tap the gas.
 

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Britain invests in waste digesting energy plants

LONDON, Feb 18 (Reuters) - Britain is to invest in several anaerobic digestion plants as it seeks to cut emissions of greenhouse gas methane and boost renewable energy production, Farm Minister Hilary Benn said on Monday.

Benn said the government would invest about 10 million pounds ($19.50 million) to help build several commercial-scale anaerobic digestion demonstration plants.

Anaerobic digesters take slurry, grass clippings, food waste and other agricultural products to produce heat or electricity and cut emissions of potent greenhouse gas methane.

Agriculture emits about 7 percent of Britain's greenhouse gases and an industry report last year suggested that anaerobic digestors could cut UK methane emissions from dairy, cattle and fattening pig enterprises by up to 75 percent.

"Anaerobic digestion has a lot of potential, not least because it will help us meet three of our needs at the same time," Benn said, noting it produced renewable energy, reduced emissions of greenhouse gas methane and helped to divert organic waste from landfill.

Germany builds around 1,000 digesters a year and leads the world in the technology with Britain trailing far behind.

Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks told the conference that proposals to build anaerobic digestion plants would receive "the top level of support" under proposed reforms to the government's renewable energy policy.

"Farmers have a vital role to play in the UK in meeting our climate change targets and increasing our energy security," Wicks said.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Garbage is dirty, but is it a clean fuel?
Reuters
Tue May 20, 8:17 PM ET

About 45 minutes north of downtown Los Angeles, a machine the size of a small truck flattens tons of food scraps, paper towels and other household trash into the side of a growing 300-foot pile.

To Waste Management, which operates the landfill, this is more than just a mountain of garbage. Pipes tunneled deep into the mound extract gas from the rotting waste and send it to a plant that turns it into electricity.

Apart from the huge-wheeled compactor driving over garbage on its surface, it looks like an ordinary hillside. And it doesn't even smell. Yet it produces enough energy to power 2,500 homes in Southern California.

Trash, rubbish, whatever you call it, the 1.6 billion tonnes of stuff the world throws away each year -- 250 kilograms per person -- is being touted as a big potential source of clean energy.

As concerns about climate change escalate and prices on fossil fuels like oil and natural gas soar to record levels, more companies are investing in ways to use methane gas to power homes and vehicles.

Around the world, landfills where municipal waste is collected and buried are one of the biggest producers of methane, a gas whose greenhouse effect is 21 times worse than carbon dioxide. If instead that gas is collected and burned to generate electricity, proponents say the resulting emissions of carbon dioxide are less harmful to the environment than the original methane.

In the United States, trash haulers like Waste Management and Allied Waste Industries Inc are rapidly expanding the number of gas-to-energy projects at their landfills, while start-up companies are developing the latest technologies to transform garbage into ethanol, gas and electricity.

"We are able to take that resource and turn it into real value financially for us. In a very basic sense it helps improve our earnings," said Ted Neura, senior director of renewable energy development for Phoenix-based Allied Waste, which is turning waste into energy at 54 of its 169 U.S. landfills, with 16 more projects in the works.

The "green" credentials that go along with the waste-to-energy projects are an added benefit, Neura said.

"You begin to look at landfills a little differently when you couple them with a renewable energy project," he said.

Environmentalists aren't quite as enthusiastic. Nathanael Greene, director of renewable energy policy for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said touting the benefits of landfills was akin to putting "lipstick on a pig." Instead, we should be trying harder to reduce waste.

BIOGAS AROUND THE GLOBE

Biogas, another name for methane produced from waste, manure or other organic matter, is most developed in Europe, where Germany has 70 percent of the global market. In Britain, landfill gas makes up a quarter of the country's renewable energy, giving electricity to some 900,000 homes.

Waste-to-energy projects are also being expanded in the developing world, where rapid economic growth has led to a surge in municipal waste, but efforts to collect the methane emitted by rotting garbage have been slower.

Last year, the World Bank announced a deal to install a gas collection and electricity generation system at a landfill in Tianjin, China, saying the opportunities for other such projects in the world's most populous nation was enormous.

In less developed countries than China, however, a waste infrastructure needs to be installed before energy projects from landfills or garbage incinerators will make sense.

"Some of the developing countries are fascinated by the possibilities of introducing incineration," said Henrik Harjula, principal administrator for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. "The problem is normally that it is like putting a modern facility in the jungle. There is nobody to take care of the maintenance."

In the United States, technology to produce electricity from waste has existed since the 1970s, according to Waste Management's vice president of renewable energy, Paul Pabor, who said federal tax incentives introduced in 2005 and state mandates to produce a percentage of their power from renewable sources has fueled the recent growth in such projects.

Environmentalists recognize that turning methane into power is preferable to releasing it into the air, but quibble with the characterization of landfill gas as renewable.

"This is an environmentally preferable option, but it's not renewable in the sense that it's not something we can do forever," said the NRDC's Greene. "Before we go adding incentives for energy production from garbage, we need to first get the incentives right so that we are maximizing the amount of recycling we do."

RUBBISH TO REVENUE

Despite the arguments about how "green" landfill gas really is, Waste Management and Allied Waste are benefiting from their growing new revenue streams. Allied Waste's Neura said the company generates less than 5 percent of its revenue from sales of electricity, but is evaluating all of its landfills to determine how best to develop them.

Landfill energy projects are much smaller than gas or coal-fired power plants, producing about 5 megawatts (MW) of electricity each, on average, Neura said. That's about enough power for 4,000 homes.

Houston-based Waste Management, which already produces energy at 100 of its 280 U.S. landfills, plans to spend $400 million over the next five years to build an additional 60 landfill gas-to-energy plants.

To produce enough gas to make a power plant financially viable, landfills must contain a large amount of organic waste and have been in operation for several years, Pabor said. At the moment, they also have to be located in states where power prices are high enough that electricity from the landfill will be competitive with energy from the grid. Finally, they also need to be close enough to transmission lines that the interconnection costs do not get out of hand.

"As a public company, of course, we've got to invest our fund in projects that do make a return for the investors," Pabor said in an interview. He declined to say how much of the company's revenue comes from its energy projects.

TRASH TO TRUCKS

In its latest effort, Waste Management last month joined a growing number of companies that are using waste to power vehicles. In California, the company is building the largest-ever facility to turn landfill gas into liquefied natural gas to fuel its heavy-duty garbage collection trucks.

But big, established companies aren't the only ones using waste to replace fossil fuels.

One start-up company, Boston-based Ze-gen Inc, is creating what it says is a zero-emissions process for producing electricity from construction waste that it is diverting from landfills. Ze-gen, which is backed by venture capital firms Pinnacle Ventures LLC, Flagship Ventures and VantagePoint Venture Partners, through a gasification project turns waste into syngas, a combination of hydrogen and carbon monoxide.

Bill Davis, the company's chief executive, said Ze-gen's syngas is able to produce more energy than competing gases without the waste having to be buried. Ze-gen hopes to attract industrial customers that will be able to power their factories with both their own waste and Ze-gen's technology.

"We are talking to large companies who are really worried about the escalating price of oil or natural gas," Davis said.

General Electric Co is also working to adapt its gasification technology, which today is used to burn coal more cleanly, to turn municipal waste into a cleaner-burning gas.

Solena Group, which is backed by Spanish conglomerate Acciona SA, is developing a facility in California to make renewable jet fuel from municipal waste, and BlueFire Ethanol Fuels Inc is building its first cellulosic ethanol plant adjacent to a landfill in Lancaster, California, so it can use municipal waste as its feedstock.

"It was the lowest risk feedstock," said Arnold Klann, president and chief executive of BlueFire Ethanol. "By putting this inside the landfill we totally avoid the creation of a new infrastructure, because the infrastructure already exists to bring (waste) into the landfill every day and bury it. We are taking the material that society values the least and converting it into a transportation fuel."

(For more coverage on the business of waste, click on http://www.reuters.com/news/globalcoverage/recycle)
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Modern-day alchemy: turning trash into power

BOSTON, May 21 (Reuters) - It's not turning lead into gold, but General Electric Co is working on a form of modern alchemy, converting garbage into electricity.

GE, which aims to make $25 billion in annual sales from green businesses by 2010, is working to adapt its gasification technology, used to burn coal more cleanly, to turn municipal waste into a relatively clean-burning gas.

The process takes solid material and heats it to temperatures up to 1,400 Celsius (2,552 F) -- far hotter than an incinerator -- which causes most matter to shift into a gaseous state. That gas is then converted into a synthetic fuel called syngas, largely free of pollutants, that can be burned in an electricity-producing turbine.

The materials that do not convert to gas, including some metals and minerals, shift to a liquid state and when they cool turn into slag, a stable rocklike substance. Slag's stability means its contents do not leach out into their surroundings, so it could be safely used in construction material.

The challenge is how to take a process that works with a uniform input -- coal -- and make it run smoothly with the hodgepodge of materials that make their way into a garbage truck.

"We're really trying to understand the variability that is in municipal solid waste," said Kelly Fletcher, advanced technology leader in sustainable energy at GE's research center in Niskayuna, New York.

"Not to be cute about it, but garbage in, garbage out," Fletcher said in a phone interview. "We have to really understand what it is that our gasification system is going to get, in terms of the feedstock."

Environmental groups have long opposed incinerating waste -- which releases polluting gases into the atmosphere and creates ash that can be hazardous -- but some are open to the idea of gasifying municipal solid waste.

"We are open to technologies that would deal with MSW in a way that doesn't have the downsides of incineration and created a useful product," said Dave Hamilton, director of global warming and energy at the Sierra Club, in Washington. "We're interested in looking at it."

Many companies around the world, including Waste Management Inc , the largest U.S. trash hauler, already produce energy from garbage by capturing the methane gas emitted by decomposing trash in landfills and burning it.

The gasification approach cuts out the landfill -- a key concern in crowded urban areas -- and prevents the trash from decomposing and producing methane, which has more than 20 times the heat-trapping potential of carbon dioxide.

"If you can intercept it from turning into methane, then doing something else with it is probably a better route," said Scott Sklar, president of The Stella Group, a Washington-based green energy consulting and design firm.

Energy experts said there are no garbage-to-energy gasification plans currently operating in the United States, although privately held Plasco Energy Group late last year opened a site in the Canadian capital of Ottawa, which is capable of processing 100 tonnes of municipal trash a day.

Cities in Florida, California, Louisiana and Michigan are contemplating or planning waste gasification facilities.

Fletcher estimated that GE is about five to ten years away from making garbage gasification a paying business.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Dallas landfill wants to ramp up methane process
13 July 2008

DALLAS (AP) - City officials in Dallas plan to have the state's first landfill that speeds production of methane gas through biotechnology, then captures it for conversion into natural gas to be used in homes.

If successful, the McCommas landfill would turn banana peels, milk cartons and newspapers into a series of energy-producing compost piles that could fuel up to 16,000 homes.

The process also could extend the life of the landfill, perhaps up to 100 years through faster decomposition.

McCommas wouldn't be the first landfill to capture methane gas and reuse it, but it would the first to speed the production of methane.

The process involves burying several layers of pipe across a 30-acre trench, or "cell." One series of pipes will pump in water and landfill liquid, known as leachate. The moisture will saturate the trash, making a better food source for the naturally occurring organisms that turn the trash into gas.

As gas is produced, a second series of pipes will extract it using vacuum pressure. It will then be sent to an onsite processing plant where carbon dioxide will be separated from methane. The methane then will be transferred to an Atmos Energy pipeline.

There are plans for seven such cells, with construction of the first scheduled to start in October.

"Even though it looks like we're just burying trash, it's really a huge science project," Ron Smith, assistant director of the city's sanitation department, said in Sunday's editions of The Dallas Morning News. "It's probably going to end up being the largest in the country."

The system can produce methane gas at two to three times the rate of a traditional landfill and could generate $30,000 to $50,000 a month for the city.

McCommas currently captures about 2.5 million cubic feet of methane a day, which is piped to an onsite plant operated by an independent company, Dallas Clean Energy. Some of the city's estimates show that by 2012, output could reach 20 million cubic feet per day.

Environmental Protection Agency spokesman Willie Kelley said his agency is planning to teach other cities and landfill owners about the Dallas plan at a September conference.

"This is energy. You want to capture it," he said.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
From stink to green: San Antonio plans to convert human waste to energy
10 September 2008

SAN ANTONIO (AP) - The city plans to turn the stench of its residents' waste into sweet green cash and renewable energy.

The San Antonio Water System will sell captured methane gas generated from the utility's treatment of 140,000 tons of biosolids, or sewage, from customers each year.

The city-owned utility's board of trustees approved a contract Tuesday to provide at least 900,000 cubic feet of natural gas daily for the next 20 years to Ameresco Inc., a Framingham, Mass.-based energy services company.

"Treating these biosolids generates an average of 1.5 million cubic feet of gas a day," said Steve Clouse, the water system's chief operating officer. "That's enough gas to fill seven commercial blimps or 1,250 tanker trucks each day."

The utility already sells for reuse a portion of the water that's cleaned at its wastewater treatment plants. It also converts some biosolids into compost that's sold for use in yards and gardens.

"As far as we know, SAWS is the only city in the United States that has completed the renewable recyclable trifecta," Clouse said.

The water system will receive up to $250,000 a year for the methane, which will be drawn from the utility's Dos Rios Water Recycling Center.

Clouse said it will take 18 to 24 months for construction of facilities needed for the contract.

"We're very pleased that we can capture and sell this gas, which is good for San Antonio's air quality and puts this renewable energy resource to work for San Antonio," he said.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Washington Electric Co-op given go-ahead to expand methane power plant
18 September 2008

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - The Washington Electric Cooperative is moving forward with plans to expand a methane-power generating operation at Vermont's largest landfill in Coventry.

The co-op says the Vermont Public Service Board issued a certificate of public good for the plan to add a fifth generator that will make electricity using methane gas emitted by rotting garbage.

Methane from the Coventry landfill is now generating almost two-thirds of the electricity used by the co-op's 10,000 members in Orange, Washington and Caledonia counties.

The co-op says construction will begin within the next few weeks and the additional generator will begin making power early next year.
 

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Eating kangaroos could help fight global warming: scientist
1 October 2008
Agence France Presse

An offbeat suggestion that Australians should eat kangaroos instead of cattle and sheep has been given a scientific stamp of approval by the government's top climate change adviser.

The belching and farting of millions of farm animals is a major contributor to Australia's greenhouse gas emissions, Professor Ross Garnaut noted in a major report to the government on global warming.

Kangaroos, on the other hand, emit negligible amounts of methane gas.

If farmers were included in a system requiring industry to buy permits for the gas they produce, the cost of meat would rise and could lead to a change in eating habits, Garnaut said in the 600 page report released Wednesday.

"For most of Australia's human history -- around 60,000 years -- kangaroo was the main source of meat," he said.

"It could again become important. However, there are some significant barriers to this change, including livestock and farm management issues, consumer resistance and the gradual nature of change in food tastes."

Garnaut cited a study looking at the potential for kangaroos to replace sheep and cattle for meat production in Australia's rangelands, where kangaroos are already harvested.

The study concludes that by 2020, beef cattle and sheep numbers could be reduced by seven million and 36 million respectively, allowing for an increase in kangaroo numbers from 34 million now to 240 million by 2020.

This would be more than enough to replace the lost lamb and beef production, and kangaroo meat would become more profitable than cattle and sheep as the price of emissions permits increased.

Garnaut's report said livestock, mainly cattle and sheep, are responsible for some 67 percent of agricultural greenhouse gas emissions.

Despite being the national animal and appearing on the Australian coat of arms, millions of kangaroos are slaughtered in the wild each year to control their numbers and much of the meat is used for pet food.

The idea of farming them for human consumption is controversial, but many health-conscious Australians already eat kangaroo meat.

"It's low in fat, it's got high protein levels, it's very clean in the sense that basically it's the ultimate free range animal," says Peter Ampt of the University of New South Wales's institute of environmental studies.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Trash is turning into key power source
26 October 2008

KEARNY, New Jersey (AP) - Standing atop the 400-acre (162-hectare) 1-E landfill, you get a panoramic view of the Meadowlands sports complex to the north and the New York City skyline to the east. You're also standing on a critical part of New Jersey's, and the nation's, energy future.

Decades' worth of household trash, construction waste and assorted refuse buried in the landfill are providing electricity to thousands of homes.

"It's like you're buying back your own garbage, but in a different form," said Tom Marturano, director of solid waste and natural resources for the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission, which owns and operates the 1-E site.

The Kearny site is among 21 landfills in New Jersey where methane gas produced by decomposing garbage is used as fuel to generate electricity, according to the state Board of Public Utilities.

That is almost as many as in the state of Texas and more than the combined number in Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma.

Nationwide, the federal Environmental Protection Agency counts 455 landfills that use their methane to generate electricity and has targeted more than 500 others as potential candidates through its Landfill Methane Outreach Program.

One of New Jersey's leading environmentalists envisions the state's landfills someday making more use of the sites by installing wind and solar power to supplement methane.

"We see landfills as potential New Age energy plants because you can combine all three and create a steady source of power -- and not everybody wants a windmill in their backyard," said Jeff Tittel, executive director of the New Jersey chapter of the Sierra Club.

Marturano cautioned that adding wind farms might take awhile because landfill surfaces are constantly shifting, but the Meadowlands Commission already has plans to install 20 acres (8 hectares) of solar panels on the southern side of the 1-E landfill.

Gov. Jon S. Corzine's Energy Master Plan touts landfill methane gas as one of the key renewable energy sources that the state hopes will combine to supply 30 percent of New Jersey's electricity by 2020. According to the plan, New Jerseyans produce 6.7 pounds (3 kilograms) of trash per day, 50 percent more than the national average.

While wind and solar power are in their relative infancy in New Jersey -- Corzine recently announced the state's first offshore wind power project -- landfills in the state have been collecting methane gas and using it as fuel to generate electricity for more than two decades.

Mike Winka, director of the Board of Public Utilities' clean energy office, said new landfills in New Jersey are required to be designed to accommodate methane gas collection.

Existing landfills can produce methane long after they've been shut down.

For example, the freshest garbage in the Kingsland landfill, adjacent to 1-E, dates to 1987, according to Marturano. That means the half-eaten Big Mac you threw away near the end of the Reagan administration may be helping to light your neighbor's home today.

Marturano estimates the 1-E landfill can keep collecting methane for 20 more years or so. He said the energy produced by the four landfills in the Meadowlands district powers about 25,000 homes.

The Edgeboro landfill in East Brunswick, operated by the Middlesex County Utilities Authority, has been collecting methane since 2001 and currently generates about 13 megawatts of electricity, enough for about 13,000 homes for a year, according to Public Service Electric and Gas, the state's largest utility.

The Middlesex County agency uses the electricity generated by the Edgeboro landfill's methane to power the county's wastewater treatment plant in Sayreville. Last year, that saved the authority about $3 million, according to executive director Rich Fitamant.

Methane gas is produced by micro-organisms that feed on organic matter in trash. The bacteria are not picky eaters and have adapted to feasting on wood, cardboard or plastic if food waste isn't available.

"It's evolution on a fast track," Marturano said.

Long tubes with perforated bases are drilled down into a landfill to collect the methane gas, which then is used as fuel to drive generators. Inactive landfills like 1-E are capped, usually with a plastic or rubber covering that prevents excess gas from escaping.

"People used to think of the landfills as wasted space," Marturano said. "But we're turning them from the juvenile delinquents of the district into productive members of society."
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Cow power: Oregon's largest dairy to test new generation of manure-to-energy technology
12 December 2008

GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) - Oregon's largest dairy will test a new generation of technology that captures methane from cow manure -- tapping an underused energy source and lowering greenhouse gas emissions.

NW Natural and Bonneville Environmental Foundation are building the $1 million methane digester at Threemile Canyon Farms in Boardman.

Methane digesters are not new, but Bill Eddie of the foundation said the model developed by J-U-B Engineers of Boise, Idaho, costs much less and can be used on small farms as well as big ones.

That means small farms wouldn't have the expense of trucking heavy manure to a central facility. Instead, they could have their own digesters and pipe excess gas to a collection spot.

Unlike older digesters that rely on concrete and steel to build the manure holding basin, the new design contours the earth and lines the basin with plastic. The covered basin is filled with old tires, which serve as a matrix for bacteria that break down the manure, allowing the methane to be drawn off for use as fuel.

The utility and the environmental group get half the capital costs back as state energy tax credits spread over five years. NW Natural can sell carbon offsets to its 6,300 Smart Energy customers, who make up about 1 percent of its customer base. The dairy can substitute the methane for propane to heat water that is used to clean milking parlors.

Agriculture accounts for about a third of the methane released into the atmosphere in the U.S. Other sources include landfills, coal mining, and oil and gas refineries. It is considered the No. 2 greenhouse gas contributing to global warming, after carbon dioxide.

Oregon is one of the seven western states and four Canadian provinces that have signed the Western Climate Initiative to cut greenhouse gas emissions in the region by 15 percent by 2020.

The Threemile Canyon equipment is scheduled to go on line in March.

"It's a risky project," said Eddie. "Every piece of the revenue stream is going to be important."

Farm manager Marty Myers said the digester fits the dairy's existing manure handling operation and easily be expanded if the test works out. The methane could ultimately power the refrigeration units that cool milk.

Threemile Canyon Farms employs 300 people full time and 400 seasonally. The farm milks 16,000 cows on a farm covering 93,000 acres. Until now, the manure has been held in a lagoon and sprayed on the farm's 37,000 acres of farmland growing feed for the cows.

The digester will handle the manure from 1,200 cows, each producing an estimated 120 pounds of manure a day -- for a total of about 144,000 pounds a day.

Once technology is ready to remove impurities, NW Natural expects to use digester methane in its pipelines, said spokesman Bill Edmonds. Methane is the main component of natural gas.

Stephanie Page, renewable energy specialist for the Oregon Department of Agriculture, said methane digesters are coming into increasing use in Oregon. Two are working on diary waste in Tillamook and Salem, and others are in municipal waste. A fruit processing company outside Corvallis is developing one.
 

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Idaho energy czar aims to harness cow pie power
22 December 2008

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Idaho is hoping to capitalize on more than just the milk emerging from its cows.

The state's mountains of manure are fueling dreams of pipelines linking waste treatment facilities at dairies large and small to central refineries that produce natural gas pure enough for homes or cars.

State energy czar Paul Kjellander, who heads up Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's Office of Energy Resources, is pushing a package of income tax credits, property tax waivers and other incentives in the 2009 Legislature starting Jan. 12 to transform Idaho's southern heartland into a methane Mecca.

The hope is that processed manure could be sold as plant bedding and dairies could also fire turbines, shooting electricity into the power grid. And they could sell carbon credits in schemes to slash greenhouse gas emissions.

"We can put together the right package and right mechanism to help move it along," Kjellander told The Associated Press. "You've got to have somebody locally who is ready to take the risk and move this forward. But the state can provide the right type of incentives."

Idaho, with 550,000 cows, is now America's No. 3 milk producer, trailing California and Wisconsin. Other states are also trying to whet potential manure investors' appetites.

Minnesota recently gave a farmer more than $200,000 to finance a project that returns unused electricity to its power grid. Washington offers sales tax exemptions for dairies that install so-called digesters, which converts methane from cow manure into electricity.

In Oregon, a utility and an environmental group are taking advantage of state energy tax credits to build a $1 million methane digester at the state's largest dairy. NW Natural and the Bonneville Environmental Foundation are building the facility at Threemile Canyon Farms in Boardman.

And in the midst of 2001's rolling blackouts, California set aside $10 million for "manure methane power production projects."

Idaho's measure would eventually allow counties not in the south, including depressed timber hamlets in the northern forests, to create alternative "energy enterprise zones" to assist companies in turning wood waste to energy.

With this pilot project focusing initially on the region around Twin Falls, however, Kjellander hopes to direct attention to where massive dairies have expanded en masse in recent years, lured by cheap land, cheap feed and utility costs that are just a third of California's.

Agriculture accounts for a third of U.S. methane released into the atmosphere. Methane, also from landfills, coal mines and oil refineries, is considered the No. 2 greenhouse gas contributing to global warming, after carbon dioxide.

The Idaho Conservation League has highlighted risks associated with Idaho's enormous dairy feedlots, including water quality threats and air pollution. The group supports Kjellander's bill.

"We're hoping the digesters will not only capture greenhouse gases, but also because of the way the system works, there will be additional controls of other air pollutants," said Courtney Washburn, from the environmental group's Boise office. "Hopefully, it will make the lives of the neighbors a lot easier."

Intermountain Gas Co., a privately owned natural gas utility headquartered in Boise that serves more than 275,000 customers, backs the plan, too.

The company, a unit of Montana-Dakota Utilities Co., gets its natural gas largely from reservoirs in Canada and beneath the Rocky Mountains, including Wyoming and Utah. Incentives could help dairies cut the cost of their gas to competitive levels, said Brent Wilde, a spokesman.

"We're charged with purchasing the least expensive gas we can get our hands on," he said. "Probably the biggest benefit is being able to use that methane for something useful, rather than letting it go into the atmosphere."

Minneapolis-based Cargill Inc. soon aims to sell electricity from its $8.5 million, 2.25 megawatt digester and generator facility at the 10,000-cow Bettencourt Dairy in Hansen to Idaho Power Co., the state's largest utility.

This is the agricultural conglomerate's first such project, but Cargill has another southern Idaho plant due to open in 2009. It's also exploring similar endeavors in neighboring Washington, Oregon, New Mexico, California, Texas, New York and Indiana, said Craig Maetzold, Cargill Environmental Finance's operations manager.

"We believe the credits in renewable energy are only going to increase in value in the future," Maetzold said.

------

On the Net:

Idaho Office of Energy Resources http://www.energy.idaho.gov
 

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Puerto Rico is going to invest in this because we can't keep making landfills on the island, they're all due for shutdown by EPA rules because they've finished there lifespan. After recycling, the rest of the garbage should be burned for energy however, the plant should be located strategically as to avoid harm to human health and natural environments.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
City buses turn to sewage for 'clean' fuel
22 March 2009
Agence France Presse

Can the key to "clean" energy be found down in the sewer? That's the idea in Oslo, where city officials soon plan to introduce buses that run on biofuels extracted from human waste.

As of 2010, the new buses are due to start plying the streets of the Norwegian capital.

"It's a win-win situation: It's carbon neutral, it hardly pollutes the environment, it's less noisy and its endlessly renewable," says Ole Jakob Johansen, one of the people in charge of the project at Oslo city hall.

The biofuel, which is methane generated by fermenting sludge, will come from the Bekkelaget sewage treatment plant which handles waste from 250,000 city dwellers.

"By going to the bathroom, a person produces the equivalent of eight litres (2.1 gallons) of diesel per year. That may not seem like a lot, but multiplied by 250,000 people, that is enough to operate 80 buses for 100,000 kilometres (62,000 miles) each," Johansen says.

Compared to diesel, biomethane is a giant green step forward.

In addition to being carbon neutral, it emits 78 percent less nitrogen oxide and 98 percent fewer fine particles -- two causes of respiratory illnesses -- and is 92 percent less noisy.

Even the price is advantageous, says Johansen.

All included, the cost of producing biofuel equivalent to one litre of diesel comes to 0.72 euros (98 cents), while diesel at the pump in Norway currently costs more than 1.0 euro.

"The fuel is less expensive but the cost of the new buses and their maintenance is higher. In total, it's about 15 percent more expensive," notes Anne-Merete Andersen of Ruter, the operator of Oslo's public transport system.

Contrary to first generation bio-ethanol, made from grains and plants, biomethane has the added advantage of not impacting food supplies, nor does it require fertilisation or deplete precious water resources.

Environmentalists are delighted.

"We've been waiting for this for a long time. It's extremely good for the climate and also for the quality of urban life," beams Olaf Brastad of the Bellona environmental organisation.

"I see absolutely no downsides. On the contrary, it is an optimal way of using a renewable energy that has always been there, just waiting to be exploited," he adds.

The initiative, if extended to Oslo's second waste treatment plant and complemented with biofuels made from food waste, could provide enough fuel for all of Oslo's 350 to 400 buses.

"If our entire fleet switched to biomethane, carbon dioxide emissions would be reduced by around 30,000 tonnes per year," according to Ruter.

Biofuel buses have already been introduced in several cities, including the French city of Lille and Stockholm, Sweden, where 70 such buses are already in service.

"There were some teething problems with the introduction, but now that those problems have been resolved we see that we have a fuel that works well," Sara Anderson, a biofuels specialist for Stockholm's public transport system SL, told AFP.

And, for those who remain sceptical, Johansen stressed that "there is absolutely no smell."
 

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Canadian scientists breeding cows that burp less

TORONTO, June 23 (Reuters) - Canadian scientists are breeding a special type of cow designed to burp less, a breakthrough that could reduce a big source of greenhouse gases responsible for global warming.

Cows are responsible for nearly three-quarters of total methane emissions, according to Environment Canada. Most of the gas comes from bovine burps, which are 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas.

Stephen Moore, a professor at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, is examining the genes responsible for methane produced from a cow's four stomachs in order to breed more efficient, environmentally friendly cows.

The professor of agricultural, food and nutritional science completed primary tests using traditional techniques to breed efficient animals that produce 25 percent less methane than less efficient animals. But more work needs to be done before the long-term impact is known. Moore's study was published earlier this year in the Journal of Animal Science.

"We are working on producing diagnostic markers for efficient animals. We are looking at the next generation of technologies that will enable us to determine the genetics of an animal through a blood test or testing some hairs that you might pluck from the animal," said Moore.

To shrink cattle's ecological footprint ranchers could also decrease the time cows are left standing in the field by getting animals to market sooner. That means breeding cattle that grow faster. Also, through breeding, cattle could become more efficient in converting feed into muscle and producing less methane and waste, said Moore.

Another method already being used to reduce methane emissions is feeding livestock a diet higher in energy and rich in edible oils, which ferment less than grass or low-quality feed.

Farmers in Alberta that feed their livestock edible oils and shorten the time to market can accrue carbon credits that could amount to between one C$1 and C$10 per head.

New Hampshire-based Stonyfield Farm, an organic yogurt producer in which Groupe Danone holds a majority stake, reduced emissions from their cows on an average of 12 percent by adding alfalfa, flax or hemp to livestock feed on a small number of its farms.

"If every U.S. dairy farmer reduced emissions by 12 percent it would be equal to about half a million cars being taken off the road," said Nancy Hirshberg, vice president of Stonyfield's Natural Resources department. ($1=$1.13 Canadian)
 

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Mass. company ends plans for Conn. garbage-to-energy power plant
8 July 2009

WATERBURY, Conn. (AP) - A Massachusetts company says it is no longer interested in building a garbage-to-energy power plant in Waterbury.

Chestnut Hill BioEnergy has terminated its contract to buy a former Waterbury factory to convert it into the power plant.

The company said Tuesday it is not interested in engaging in a fight for 18 months with people who arent even willing to listen to what it's going to do.

Chestnut Hill planned to build a plant that would take in 625 tons of food waste a day and convert it into methane gas and burn the methane to generate electricity. The 12-megawatt power plant would have employed 40 to 50 people.

Chestnut Hill still plans to build the plant somewhere in the state.
 

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Australia 'reef and beef' project seeks to curb flatulent cows
4 September 2009
Agence France Presse

An Australian scientist Friday launched what he called a "reef and beef" study into whether feeding cows seaweed would reduce their flatulent carbon emissions, in a move that could help save the Great Barrier Reef.

Tony Parker, from James Cook University, said cattle produced up to 20 percent of global man-made methane emissions, and the problem was largely linked to their diet.

At least 50 percent of these cows lived in developing nations, many of which were in the tropics, where the quality of pasture tended to deteriorate in the winter, increasing emissions, Parker said.

"Seaweed, algae and other sea grasses have been proven to be much more digestible than land grass because they have less cellulose and more starch," added Parker's research partner Rocky de Nys.

"A better diet for cattle, then, will encourage better digestion and thus lead to a decrease in methane emissions."

Methane gas from livestock accounts for about 12 percent of Australia's annual greenhouse emissions, with flatulence from 120 million sheep, cows and goats comprising its third-largest source of damaging gases.

The average beef cow expels the equivalent of around 1,500 kilograms (3,300 pounds) of carbon per year.

The scientists said that using seaweed as cattle fodder could also have wider benefits for the environment, by providing coastal farmers with a way to clean waterways that flowed into the Great Barrier Reef.

Seaweed could be used to clear nitrogen and phosphorous from farming water, but few farmers adopted the method because they were left with "a huge biomass that they don't know what to do with," De Nys said.

He said those nutrients were partly responsible for the breakdown of aquatic ecosystems within the iconic Barrier Reef, which authorities warned this week faced significant threats from climate change and farming runoff.

"I like to call it the 'reef and beef' project because it has far reaching implications that come full circle: starting with seaweed, taking in the beef and aquaculture industries, and extending back out to the sea to help conserve the Great Barrier Reef," added Parker.

Australia's centre-left government has committed to reducing emissions by at least five percent of 2000 levels by 2020, including the introduction by 2011 of a carbon trading scheme.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has committed to deeper cuts of up to 25 percent if world leaders agree on an "ambitious" reduction plan at Copenhagen in December.
 

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Mountains of trash: Nev. landfill is largest in US
12 December 2009

LAS VEGAS (AP) - "The dump" conjures images of broken couches, mounds of garbage, flies, rats, smells so strong they radiate visibly into the air.

But very few Southern Nevadans have seen the region's main dump. The biggest landfill in the U.S. is tucked away in a narrow valley in the Apex area an hour north of Las Vegas, just off Interstate 15 but not visible from the freeway.

Mountains surround the dump valley, which is etched out into red earth terraces. The garbage is layered like a sheet cake beneath each terrace, and pipes crisscross the land, carrying away the methane generated by the decomposing garbage. Republic Services just announced a plan to convert the methane into electricity by late 2011.

But that energy plant has yet to be built, so for now the place looks like a plastic bag-pocked mining site.

The odor is a clue to its real purpose. It does faintly stink, but not as bad as one might expect, considering it stores nearly 50 million tons of rotting trash. Another 9,000 tons or so rolls in every day. During the height of the construction boom a few years ago the daily average exceeded 15,000 tons.

Today there's almost no construction waste going to Apex, commercial waste is down and even residential waste has decreased, according to landfill General Manager Mark Clinker.

So this is a place where the recession is doing some good. The less trash sent to the landfill, the longer the landfill stays open. There's enough space at the 2,200-acre site to store all of the Las Vegas Valley's waste for the next 200 years, according to Bob Coyle, vice president of government relations for Republic Services.

The landfill is also ever-expanding in a way. Las Vegas Paving comes in and digs out the rock of the surrounding mountains, making way for the terraces of trash that will take their place. The company uses the rock for roadway construction. A Republic Services team comes in after the paving crew and preps the area with a welded toxins shield intended to protect the aquifer, layers of rock and dirt. Then they add vacuum tubes to suck up the methane and pipes to gather the liquid that drains from decomposing trash. Everything is mapped with precise GPS coordinates.

Giant trucks roll in at all hours from transfer stations across the valley. (The transfer stations are where trash from curbside cans and commercial bins are taken.) When it arrives at the landfill, the trash is weighed and taken to the latest dump terrace. The drivers hook their trailers up to tippers that lift the containers 90 degrees in the air, sending a cascade of garbage onto the terrace below. Huge steel-wheeled compactors -- the wheels alone are at least 8 feet tall -- then chop and compress the trash.

The compactors can work on up to 150,000 square feet of trash at a time, after which bulldozers are brought in to cover it all up with at least six inches of rock and dirt, and start a new terrace. In a 24/7 operation like Apex, that happens about once a week.

The goal is to keep the trash from flying off in the strong winds prevalent in the area.

Tires and plastic grocery bags are the archenemies of landfill employees.

Tires have an uncanny ability to make their way to the surface, and plastic bags are almost impossible to keep down when the trash is being dumped. There are several fences and bag traps around the landfill, but it's not hard to spot one or two bags soaring for the heavens.

"The day they outlaw those plastic bags I will stand and salute," Coyle says. "I will be a happy man that day."

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Information from: Las Vegas Sun
 
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