Renewable Energy Magazine writes that global biomass investments could be worth $100 billion by 2021. A new study by Pike Research suggests that global investments in biomass power generation will total $104 billion by 2021, as capacity is ramped up from 58 GW in 2011 to 86 GW by 2021. Biomass is inexhaustible and found everywhere and currently supplies about 14% of global primary energy. Traditional biomass products like firewood, charcoal, human and animal manure, and crop residues still provide the main source of household energy use for some two billion people worldwide. Now an increasing number of countries are turning to biomass resources as a substitute for coal in the generation of electricity and transportation fuels. This includes using grass, leaves, wood, wood chips, rice husks, peanut shells, sugarcane fibre, as well as food and landfill waste.

energydigital says that biogas is the best kept secret in the renewable energy industry. This is the methane gas which is produced by the biological breakdown of organic matter. Dead plant matter, human and animal manure, and food waste can easily be converted into biogas in a simple biogas digester. It can then be used as fuel for cooking, lighting, water heating, as well as being able to run biogas generators to produce electricity. Some believe that generating electricity from biogas offers a better Return on Investment (ROI) than solar or wind systems. The author believes that South Africa is behind in the use of biogas compared to other countries and needs to do more to support it. In a similar vein, Enviromental Protection discusses the uptapped potential of biogas. The author concludes that biogas efficiently uses materials that would frequently be disposed of, is flexible in its applications, supports rural development, cuts waste management costs, can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and has a higher energy yield when applied to energy crops.

Renewable Energy World talks about generating biogas from biomass. The article tells how the Azienda Agricola Brusadino project in Italy demonstrates that anaerobic digestion of energy crops and agricultural wastes can be an effective means of generating electricity from a renewable source, along with a low cost means of waste disposal and fertiliser production.

Biofuels for transportation are not a good idea says the Energy Bulletin. The posting reviews the recent book “The Biofuel Delusion” by Mario Giampietro and Kozo Mayumi which concludes that “Full substitution of fossil energy with agro-biofuels is impossible.”  Their analysis leads them to believe that there is not enough land to cultivate enough organic material to power our transportation needs. Moreover, “agriculture is terribly expensive in terms of the resources it requires. It needs land, water, fertilizers, pesticides, mechanical work; all supplies that normally come from fossil fuels. Taking all that into account, the energy return for energy invested of biofuels is generally low; unless the invested energy is supplied by low cost human labor, as it is the case for Brazilian sugar cane.” To make matters worse, land cultivation for biofuels is competing with land for growing food and in the process leading to higher food costs. 

ESI-AFRICA tells us about Keyna\s first commercial biomass plant. Construction starts next month on an 11.5 MW bio-fuel plant in Mariga. The source for the electricity will be the noxious weed, the Prosopis Juliflora tree, popularly known as ‘Mathenge’. The area has a Mathenge forest cover of about 30,000 hectares, the highest density of the invasive plant in Kenya. It is estimated that the forest can serve the power plant for 10 years. The plant will also be fed by agricultural residue such as wheat and sisal waste. At 8 US cents per kilowatt-hour, biomass ranks second in Kenya as the cheapest source of energy after geothermal power, which costs US 6.4 cents; and tops hydro and thermal coal, which cost US 12.5 cents and US 10.2 cents respectively.

Rice husk power helps fuel India says Renewable Energy World. Husk Power Systems is bringing electricity to more than 32,000 rural households in rural India by installing a 32 kW biomass gasifier that burns a combination of rice husks and diesel fuel to generate power. It can also burn mustard stems, corncobs, grasses, and other agricultural residue. The potential demand for biomass power generation in India exceeds 30,000 MW (30 GW) or more than 1,000 times Husk Power’s current installed capacity.

renew Grid says that Plainfield, Connecticut will have a new biomass plant. The plant will consume wood available from various sources – such as construction and demolition debris, recycled wood pallets and land-clearing materials – and is expected to generate 37.5 MW of electricity. Connecticut Light & Power will purchase the power from the plant-based on a 15-year off-take agreement, utilizing the plant’s status as a renewable power source. The plant is expected to begin operation in late 2013 or early 2014.

In Pennsylvania a sewage treatment plant will take wastewater and convert it into electricity says WNEP.  Methane from the wastewater and food waste from a nearby food processing plant will be used to power the treatment plant.  It will also sell surplus power to the local electrical grid. This will save the local government about $400,000 per year on energy costs.

Waste Management World reports on a UK company that intends to open two plants that will generate electricity from food waste. Food waste specialist PDM plans to build anaerobic digestion (AD) facilities during 2012 in Widnes and East London. Each will convert some 90,000 tonnes of food waste annually into 4 MW of energy and a nutrient rich fertilizer. Food waste generated by retailers, restaurants, hotels and households will be used as a feedstock and the electricity will be sold to the national grid.

A new power plant near Warminster, England will use rotting food to generate electricity says This is Bath. The plant will take 20,000 tonnes of food waste a year that would probably otherwise go to landfill and generate 4.3 million MWh of electricity a year – enough to power 1,000 homes. 7% of the electricity generated will be used to keep the power plant going while the rest will be sold to the National Grid. Feedstock for the plant will be non-packaged food waste supplied by commercial and industrial firms within the local area.

German utility E.ON plans to convert a UK coal-fired power plant to biomass reports Reuters. Starting in early 2013 the plant will produce electricity using wood pellets but will keep the ability to burn coal for up to 20% of its capacity. The wood pellets will be supplied from North America.  The plant will have to shut down by the end of 2015 under EU-wide regulation that bans highly polluting power plants.

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