Sunday, September 21, 2008

Nice Bioenergy Links and Summaries

Lignocellulosic materials are the most abundant biomass available on earth. In the United States, one study showed that 1.2 billion metric tons (1.3 billion tons) of crop residue could be collected without decarbonating the soil. _Source
It is estimated that one billion tons of biomass are needed to replace 30 percent of current annual petroleum consumption in the United States alone. _Source
The use of biomass for both generating electricity and producing liquid biofuels is still in its infancy. The infrastructure is still being developed and tweaked for efficiency and yield. But scattered across North America, different local and regional constituencies are beginning to comprehend the distributed and decentralised promise of the abundant biomass of North America.
A $1 billion investment in at least two power plants will use leftover timber products - in abundant supply in Georgia - to generate electricity for nearly half the state's residents supplied by electric membership cooperatives.

Tucker-based Oglethorpe Power Corp, the nation's largest cooperative-owned electric generator, announced Thursday it will build two 100-megawatt plants to be fueled by the sawdust and wood chips from pine trees harvested for pulp and timber. Increased demand could prompt the utility to add a third plant by the planned 2015 start-up date. _Source
At this time, the choice appears to be between using food crops for fuel, or using non food crops and biomass, such as algae, jatropha, or lignocellulosic materials. That is a false dichotomy, parroted by people who know nothing about energy or agriculture. In reality, everything relating to bioenergy is a dynamic tradeoff heavily dependent on global economics, government decisions, climate effects on crops, etc etc.
The best energy crops may be those that are multipurpose and allow farmers to respond to market changes by combining food, feed, fiber, and biofuel product streams. Many advances have already been made with conventional plant breeding using molecular genetics and plant physiology to significantly improve crops. These technologies can also lead to significant improvements in bioenergy feedstocks.

In the future, engineered plants may be the solution to low- cost, abundant feedstocks. By tweaking plant genes, scientists can encourage production of more biomass or change a plant's cell wall composition so that it can be readily converted into biofuels or industrial products such as lubricants, inks, fabrics, or glue. ARS has 20 gene banks across the country that can be used to design, develop, and produce better energy crops.

....Because of the wide variation in biomass feedstocks and their impacts by geographic location, research is being conducted on many of these issues on a regional basis. Land grant and other universities, as well as ARS, are evaluating various crops for suitability and sustainability based on eco-region, genetic variation, and production economics. Some land grant universities have joined together in five geographical locations throughout the country to address regional biomass feedstock capabilities in terms of sustainable production for energy purposes. _Source
Only idiots such as Pelosi, Boxer, Reid, etc. try to dictate energy policy from a central golden throne. Those dunderheads cannot even legislate an offshore energy bill properly, without completely making a monumentally corrupt mess of it.

The sooner power is distributed from the central haven of fools called Washington DC to more regional and local control, the better.



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