Renewables - August 22
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The Dean of Dung is Back - and Full of Gas!
Alice Kenny, Ecosystem Marketplace
Self-described "manure trader" Peter Hughes made headlines for harnessing water quality trading to turn chicken dung into fertilizer. Now he wants to bundle payments from various ecosystem services to convert the stinking stuff to fuel. The Ecosystem Marketplace examines the plan - and the pitfalls.
After a few swigs of scotch, Peter Hughes got an idea. This manure trader extraordinaire (above right, in his element) was already making money trucking nutrient-laden manure out of the overextended Chesapeake Bay watershed and dumping it onto nutrient-deprived strip mined land.
Removing the guano - and its contaminants - from the watershed paid out in water quality credits, while delivery of fertilizer where it was needed provided another income stream.
But there was so much manure and so little demand.
"We had these long-term credit contracts and I knew we would need long-term disposal sites," he says, recalling the free-associations that led to his inspiration.
Coal-fired power plants, he realized, need biomass for fuel...
And chicken dung is, well, just that.
According to data extrapolated from the National Association of Development Organizations, Pennsylvania chickens are so prolific in their poop that they excrete enough to power most of the homes within the watershed, a land mass twice the size of Ireland.
(7 August 2008)
Bloomberg offers windmill power plan
Michael Barbaro, New York Times
In a plan that would drastically remake New York City’s skyline and shores, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is seeking to put wind turbines on the city’s bridges and skyscrapers and in its waters as part of a wide-ranging push to develop renewable energy.
The plan, while still in its early stages, appears to be the boldest environmental proposal to date from the mayor, who has made energy efficiency a cornerstone of his administration.
Mr. Bloomberg said he would ask private companies and investors to study how windmills can be built across the city, with the aim of weaning it off the nation’s overtaxed power grid, which has produced several crippling blackouts in New York over the last decade.
(20 August 2008)
New York Mayor sees conservation as main path to energy savings
Christopher Martin, Bloomberg
New York City will likely benefit more from energy efficiency and conservation than mounting wind turbines on city skyscrapers and bridges.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg this week asked renewable energy developers to propose ideas for generating wind energy and other pollution-free power sources within the city's five boroughs. Along with offshore wind farms, other ideas included tidal and solar power and geothermal energy. Responses are due Sept. 19.
"Most of what New York can do is on the conservation side," Bloomberg said at a New York press conference yesterday. Reports in the New York Times and New York Post suggested wind turbines might be built on top of bridges and skyscrapers. "Windmills are no panacea for our problems," Bloomberg said. "They can help, just like biofuels can help, just like tides can help. In the end, it is conservation that is the main thing you and I can do."
U.S. cities consume 75 percent of all electricity and contribute about the same amount of greenhouse gasses. The much smaller German city of Aachen, with a population of 246,000, began a similar effort back in 1993 and it helped spur a development program that made Germany the world's biggest producer of solar and wind power...
(21 August 2008)
Golden image of corn-based ethanol shows some erosion
Sue Kirchhoff, USA TODAY
... Market changes and a growing chorus of concerns about ethanol make Doyal and other ethanol supporters question how long the good times will last. Corn prices, though down lately, remain high at $5.98 a bushel, making it harder for ethanol producers to profit. Livestock producers blame the ethanol industry for driving up feed prices and fueling food inflation for consumers.
Industry supporters say opponents are overstating the impact of ethanol on food prices and ignoring other factors in driving up food costs - high oil prices and bad weather in exporting nations, for example. But they acknowledge that corn-based ethanol is not seen as the long-term solution to greater energy independence, but rather a transition to more efficient biofuels that may not benefit those farmers fueling current ethanol plants.
They also acknowledge that the explosive growth of the ethanol sector has contributed to increasing volatility in grain markets and in farming generally. The industry took off at the same time the world began consuming more grain than it was producing and oil prices surged. The result: tight supplies, high prices and unpredictable markets as food prices now are linked to energy demand.
... For corn growers and other farmers, the strain of high energy costs and tight supplies of everything from fertilizer to seed - caused partly by the ethanol boom itself - has started to show.
(21 August 2008)
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