Landfill Garbage Methane Gas Counterpoint

One of the biomass fuels that have been given little attention is methane gas generated from garbage in Waste Management dumps. Waste Management is converting methane gas from rotting trash into electricity power. The gas powers turbines that turn generators, producing electricity for a power grid. In the U.S. the number of methane gas projects has grown to 510 and generate more than 1.563 megawatts per year, or supply energy to power 1.6 million homes. A landfill will produce gas for 20 to 30 years, and is a reliable consistent source. Economics, energy legislation mandates, and technology advancements are the reason for the fuels development. At the present, landfill gas power cost is about the same as from wind, but is still more expensive than from coal-generated power (Cents per kilowatt-hour: Coal=3 to 8, Landfill gas=7 to 10, Wind=5 to 11).

Methane is the second most important green house gas after carbon dioxide. Reducing its emissions in the atmosphere, and using it for energy power generation and a component of natural gas are good reasons landfill methane-electricity projects made up 10.8% of the country’s renewable energy output. The EPA says, landfill methane becomes a greenhouse gas at least 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide, the principle greenhouse gas, when it rises in the atmosphere.

The 1.6 billion tons of garbage, 550 lbs per person, is a growing potential source for clean energy. The methane generated in the landfills should be used for energy power instead of being released to the atmosphere.

Other Reference info:

EPA Landfill Methane Outreach Program (LMOP)

A look at Waste Management and landfill gas energy resources

Sources of Energy-the fossil fuels

FEC harnesses methane gas to create energy

Garbage to gas

Fun Facts about Fungi

California garbage trucks fueled by…

Biomass Fuel, Energy, Power Counterpoint

Biomass is a term being more frequently used for renewable fuel, energy and power made from any organic material from plants or animals. Sources are organic crops, plants, and trees, agricultural food and feed crops, and residues from plants, crops, wood, and animals-in other words what is left over or scraps. The usable by-products are gas additives (ethanol and biodiesel), methane gas (burned as fuel), and organic fibers and wood (for heat and generating electricity).

I became more interested in biomass after previously covering the following topics:

Solar Power/ Energy

Wind Turbine Power

Natural Gas Car Fuel

U.S. Oil Reserves

Price of Oil

Corn Food Fuel

Car Fuel Efficiency

Global Warming and Energy Reserves

Electrical Utilities are facing new rules requiring them to generate 20% of their power from renewable resources by 2020. Solar and wind power has been considered by most utilities and many don’t have the resources, or have run into legislative roadblocks. With all Utilities being required to meet quotas, they are now considering, and building, “Biomass” Power Plants, since they can get significant federal tax credits.

Most studies are based on data such as that from “The Engineering Toolbox”.  The data shows that the biomass energy is free, since the process is considered nearly carbon neutral, because the plants only emit the carbon they absorbed while they were growing. The time and volume of usage is neglected-it is not explained that more is used than grown, and in between there are fewer trees to absorb the carbon dioxide. The real world is more like Fig. 3 Plot “Pounds of CO2 per KWH” of the article “How to measure fuel efficiency, energy costs, and carbon emissions for home heating”.  Both coal and wood have the same high-level carbon footprint.

An interesting article, “Biomass Energy Facts”, is a good comprehensive worthwhile list. It is not mentioned that renewable energy in 2007 was 7% of the US energy supply, and of this 3% is biomass. In 2020 20% of US energy is to be by renewable, with a good part of the increase by biomass, meaning a much-increased usage of wood from trees that takes time to replace and is now a big source of CO2 absorption.

Of major concern is that states (Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Missouri, etc.) are now proceeding with biomass energy projects based on the process being considered nearly carbon neutral because the plants only emit the carbon they absorbed while they were growing. Is this a fact-based conclusion? And will the increased biomass usage have any effect on the natural cycling of CO2 because it takes time for volume replacement?

Other biomass information of interest:

Biomass Emissions-Air Emissions from Modern Wood Energy Systems

Massachusetts Forest and Environment Threatened

Global Warming and Energy Reserves Counterpoint?

The science is clear, “climate change is happening, and it is linked directly to human activities that emit greenhouse gases”. A number of technological options exist to avert dangerous climatic change by dramatically reducing greenhouse gas emissions both now and into the future. Business Solutions, International Action, State Action, and Local Action describe how business and government leaders at all levels have recognized both the challenge and the vast opportunity climate change presents. These leaders are responding with a broad spectrum of innovative solutions: Dell moves up the timeline, and South Africa has a way to make oil from coal.

Scientific evidence paints a clear picture, and it will have many serious and potentially damaging effects in the decades ahead. Scientists have confirmed that the earth is warming, and “those greenhouse gas emissions from cars, power plants and other manmade sources—rather than natural variations in climate—are the primary cause”.

“Evidence of CO2 and other greenhouse gases can be seen from the following observable impacts”:

  1. Polar ice is melting
  2. Glaciers around the globe are in retreat
  3. Storms are increasing in intensity
  4. Ecosystems around the world already are reacting\
  5. Plant and animal species struggle to adapt to shifting climate
  6. New climate-related threats emerge

A report states 2004 U.S. greenhouse emissions of CO2 equivalent million metric tons are:

  1. Electric generation-2338 (32%)
  2. Transportation-1995 (28%)
  3. Industry-1377 (20%)
  4. Agriculture-491 (7%)
  5. Commercial-460 (7%)
  6. Residential-391 (6%)

The same report states achieving the necessary total reductions will require a combination of strategies:

  1. Producing cars with higher gas mileage
  2. Displace coal power with other means (wind, water, light)
  3. Build with nuclear power
  4. Decrease car travel per year
  5. Capture and store carbon emissions
  6. Improve energy efficiency buildings and appliances
  7. Increase ethanol output

However, it is estimated in the report that increased CO2, with the increased energy requirements of the world’s developed nations, by 2030 are:

  1. U.S. 60%
  2. China 120%
  3. India 100%
  4. Europe 20%

All other developing nations are expected to surpass those of the developed nations. This means that the increasing energy requirements are occurring at a faster rate than the total reductions that are deemed necessary.

It has been estimated that there is enough energy reserves accessible, using current mining technology, to provide the following for the entire planet:

  1. Oil-57 years
  2. Coal-67 years
  3. Natural gas-167 years

It has been reported in “An Inconvenient Truth” that if we do nothing concerning Global Warming, in about 10 years the planet may reach a “tipping point” and begin a slide toward destruction of our civilization, and most of the species on the planet. After that point is reached, it would be too late for any action: a dire prediction.

The estimated energy reserves leaves only about 150 years until the planet runs out of electric generation, transportation, and industry as we now know it, for our heating and air conditioning, travel, and work conveniences we now take for grant it: a dire prediction, but a limit to activities that emit greenhouse gases.

Scientists, engineers, professors, politicians, and a few magazines are now questioning what is being stated in the media about global warming or cooling, and the energy reserve predictions. Refer to the listed article and a start to the people giving facts:


  1.  Global Warming the Cold Hard Facts?-Timothy Bell
  2. Design News-Charles J. Murray
  3. Newsweek-Robert J Samuelson
  4. Yuri A. Israel- Vice President (IPCC)
  5. Michael Crichton- the scientist, writer and filmmaker
  6. Richard Lindzin- an atmospheric physicist and a professor of meteorology at MIT
  7. Thomas Kuhn- book author of “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.”
  8. Bob Carter- a paleoclimate geologist from James Cook University in Australia
  9. Borris Winterhalter-marine researcher at Geological Survey of Finland
  10. Wibjorn Karlen-Emeritus Professor, Stockholm University
  11. James Inhofe-Senator
  12. See “Global Weather Predictions Counterpoint” article
  13. See “Global Weather Facts Counterpoint” article

Of interest are the candidate’s views on technological issues: Energy, Climate change, Space program, skilled worker shortage, and technology.