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…

Advertisements

Green Jobs and Coal Counterpoint

Articles are now being written that state “The wind industry now employs more people than coal mining in the United States.” Wind industry jobs increased to 85,000 in 2008, while coal mining employs about 81,000 workers. The increase in wind energy generation is due to proposed climate change and carbon tax legislation. The 50% increase in installed wind capacity in 2008 is one third of the nations total, and is still leading the green energy industry. The future of wind energy generation seems to be tied to the tax credit due to global credit crisis delays and investor liabilities.

The coal, oil, and natural gas industries have become fairly stable for the last few years, as the ability to find new sources has been limited and mining more efficient. The increase of green (renewable) energy jobs has increased due to strong global government support. It has been estimated that the nearly $2 billion in money from the American Recovery and Investment has been spent on Wind Power, but 80%of that money has gone to foreign manufacturers of wind turbines. It is a fact that renewable energy makes up 3% and coal 50% of our nations electrical energy. Then why does the wind industry require more jobs than coal?

Does wind power really provide more jobs than coal?

Refer to “Coal and jobs in the United States.”

Other interesting reading:

Green Jobs, Fact or Fiction?

Defining Green and meaningful net jobs.

Renewable energy is more for jobs than dirty coal.

Coal is not the answer.

Green policies in California generated jobs?

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

Solar Power/Energy Counterpoint


Solar Power/Energy refers to the utilization of the radiant energy from the Sun. It refers more specifically to the conversion of sunlight into electricity, either by photovoltaics or concentrating solar thermal devices. The amount of solar energy reaching the surface of the Earth is so vast that in one year it is about twice as much as will ever be obtained from all of the Earth’s non-renewable resources of coal, oil, natural gas, and mined uranium combined.


As of 2007, the total installed capacity of solar hot water systems is approximately 154 GW. China is the world leader in their deployment with 70 GW installed as of 2006. Chinese government officials signed an agreement on Tuesday (9/8/09) with First Solar, an American solar developer, for a 2,000-megawatt photovoltaic farm to be built in the Mongolian desert. Israel is the per capita leader in the use of solar hot water systems with 90% of homes using them.


Photovoltaics (PV) has mainly been used to power small and medium-sized applications, from the calculator powered by a single solar cell to off-grid homes powered by a photovoltaic array. Germany, Japan, US, and Spain have become the leaders in the PV market. It is expected that by 2009 over 90% of commercial photovoltaics, installed in the United States, will be installed using a power purchase agreement. Grid parity (cost), the point at which photovoltaic electricity is equal to or cheaper than grid power, is achieved first in areas with abundant sun and high costs for electricity such as in California, Hawaii, and Japan. It is not common knowledge, but George W. Bush has set 2015 as the date for grid parity in the USA. Here are some examples of large-scale photovoltaic power plants and here are some more.


Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) systems use lenses or mirrors and tracking systems to focus a large area of sunlight into a small beam. The concentrated light is then used as a heat source for a conventional power plant.


Storage is an important issue in the development of solar energy because modern energy systems usually assume continuous availability of energy. Solar energy is not available at night, and the performance of solar power systems is affected by unpredictable weather patterns; therefore, storage media or back-up power systems must be used.


Solar installations in recent years have also largely begun to expand into residential areas, with governments offering incentive programs to make “green” energy a more economically viable option. The program allows residential homeowner installations to sell the energy they produce back to the electrical power grid. It has now been stated by the chairman of the 2008 European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference that photovoltaics can cover all the world energy demand.


The Solar Electric Power Association made a statement concerning the historical announcement that “The Pacific Gas and Electric Utility (PG&E) will develop two photovoltaic (PV) power plants equivalent to almost double the amount of current U.S. grid-connected PV capacity”.


Florida Power and Light (FP&L) unveils the plans to build Florida’s first large-scale solar thermal power plant (CPS), one of the largest such plants in the world. It also announced new solar energy projects that include the world’s largest photovoltaic solar plant and first “hybrid” energy center, coupling solar thermal technology with an existing combined-cycle generation unit.


As can be seen from the brief “Solar Power/Energy Counterpoint” facts article, solar energy is becoming one of the most viable alternatives for electric power generation. We don’t hear much about it, but it has the possibilities of playing an important part in the new energy resources available without much say-so from known government programs (except for insentives).

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

Some more interesting articles:

  1. A Solar Grand Plan.
  2. Are solar photovoltaics just to costly?
  3. Solar Cell Production Jumps 50 Percent in 2007.
  4. Solar Power: The Pros and Cons of Solar Power.
  5. Machine Design Editorial: The Economics of Renewable Energy

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.