As we all know a fundamental law of physics says energy is conserved.  Energy can neither be created or destroyed.  It just transforms itself into another manifestation like light or heat or motion or sound. Yet we also know an enormous amount of the energy we produce on Earth is dissipated as heat — wasted energy to many of us.  Whether from a lamp bulb, a nuclear bomb, a petrol engine or a gas flare, a lot of heat is transferred from potential useful energy and spread out into the atmosphere. Now there is a world-wide effort to recapture that waste heat and turn it back into useful energy. One example is Germany where it wants one-quarter of the energy used to heat homes to come from recycled heat waste generated at industrial plants. Deutsche Welle tells us about city of Karlsruhe which is investing heavily in new infrastructure to make this possible. The Miro oil refinery in southwest Germany used to pump its excess heat into the air. Now the heat in piped into nearby homes in a scheme called district heating. This is part of a broader effort by Germany to siphon off residual heat generated in industrial plants and use it to benefit the population at large. “In Germany, so much heat is generated by electricity production alone that we could heat the entire country. And we just throw this heat away,” said energy consultant Holger Ochs.

In The Republic of Biofuels and the Age of Plenty Biofuels Digest asks: What is the role and scope of biofuels in a world potentially awash in new found oil & gas? while the Deccan Herald says biofuels are finding diverse uses. The later finds “biofuels are mainly used for energy diversification and national energy security strategies.”

Ethanol Producer reports European biofuel consumption is slowing. EurObserv’ER’s annual Biofuels Barometer report shows the growth in biofuel consumption in the 27 EU member states decreased in 2011 to just 3%.  This is down dramatically from the 10.7% growth recorded between 2009 and 2010, the 24.6% growth achieved from 2008 to 2009, and the 41.7% increase between 2007 and 2008. Biodiesel remains the primary biofuel used in Europe, with a 78% market share while ethanol is at 21%.

Azocleantech says bioenergy is playing a minor role in Germany’s transition to renewable energy sources. This conclusion comes from the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina. The Academy says bioenergy needs more land surface area and is linked with high level of greenhouse gas emissions. Compared to other renewable sources such as solar thermal energy, wind energy and photovoltaic energy, bioenergy is more dangerous to the environment. “The current proposal by politicians to have bio-energy supply 23%, sometimes even 30% of our overall energy supply is entirely illusionary,” commented Bernhard Schink, professor of microbial ecology at the University of Konstanz.  See Leopoldina issues a critical statement on the use of bioenergy and Deutsche Welle Is Germany headed the wrong way on biofuel?

Australia’s first advanced algae biofuel facility opens reports BIOMASS Magazine. Algae.Tec opened its algae-to-biofuel plant in New South Wales this past week, the first of its kind in the country. The facility, located just south of Sydney, is designed to grow algae on an industrial scale to produce biofuels. The plant will also use waste carbon dioxide from a food production company for the algae growing process.

Brazil is building an algae-based biofuel plant we learn from The facility will be built in the northeastern Brazilian state of Pernambuco in late 2013. Using sugar cane that yields ethanol, it will produce 1.2 million litres of algae-based biofuels annually. It will also make use of the carbon dioxide emitted in the ethanol production to speed up the photosynthesis process in the seaweeds and thus reduce CO2 emissions into the environment. Brazil is the world’s second largest producer of biofuels after the United States.

Scientific American posts innovation is cleaning up waste-to-energy in the US. The post discusses new technology, like gasification, that produces less toxic gases than incineration of landfill waste in the production of electricity. Many landfill-to-waste projects have been opposed in the US because of these toxic gases. And Cogeneration & On-Site Power Production tells us why waste isn’t rubbish any more.

Waste Management World tells us waste-to-energy is ready for liftoff in India. India is currently producing some 55 million tonnes of solid waste and a further 38 billion litres of sewage each year, excluding industrial wastes, making it ripe for waste to energy technologies to develop rapidly, according to a recent report by KuicK Research. The report says that India has the requisite raw material, capital and technology to develop a highly profitable waste to energy market and is rapidly increasing its generation potential. Grid connected waste to energy capacity  crossed the 70 MW mark in 2011, while the non grid connected generation is at 90 MW and rising. The analysts forecast that India is looking at a future in which domestic and international businesses will soon enter the waste energy market to profit from the immense potential. You can access the report, India Urban & Industrial Waste to Energy Market, here.

news-press tells us about garbage in, energy out at a waste to energy plant in Florida. Now in its 18th year, the plant in Lee country, takes garbage normally destined for a landfill and coverts it in to electricity. Since opening in 1994, the plant has processed more than 7 million tons of garbage into energy. The Lee plant is one of about 85 such facilities across the U.S. and one of 11 plants in Florida. In 2011 the plant burned more than 547,000 tons of garbage , generating up to 344 MW of electricity – enough to power about 25,000 homes. About 85% of that energy is sold to the grid and the remainder is used to operate the various operations at the plant.

Biomass Magazine looks at biomass vs. natural gas to assess which is more economical as a feedstock for power production, transportation fuel production or thermal and steam applications. The answer of which energy source to choose in North America is easy: where natural gas is available, natural gas for electricity generation will most likely be used in favour of biomass due to its lower costs. For locations that don’t have access to natural gas via pipeline the situation is much more complex, especially if liquid natural gas is available. And while natural gas fluctuates in an international market (if exports and imports are allowed), the main variable in the price of biomass is the cost of diesel. Biomass would be favoured, however, if specific government policies mandated the use of biomass as a more friendly greenhouse gas emission source.

New Hampshire Public Radio posted Got Wood? (The Other Energy in New Hampshire). The post says New Hampshire remains the second most oil-dependent state in the US  for residential, commercial and industrial heating. 63% of the state’s residents or 250,000 households rely on oil – or propane made from petroleum – for heat. The author suggests that wood pellets would be an obvious substitute for oil given the US is the largest pellet produce in the world.

Pallet Enterprise asks: What’s happening in the wood energy market? The post summarizes RISI’s North American Bioenergy 5-year forecast which says the US bioenergy industry is expected to more than double in the next 5 years, creating substantial demand for wood biomass, and intensifying completion for fiber and changing the dynamics of wood biomass supply. While wood is currently mainly used for heating and producing electricity (via wood pellets), in future biofuels for road and aviation transport could become a major market as oil prices climb above $100 a barrel. Yet the main driver is expected to be the wood pellet sector, which remains the most promising opportunity for wood energy – both domestically and for exports, particularly since thermal power yields the most efficient use of biomass and is the cheapest alternative in areas of the US where natural gas is not available. Moreover, exports of wood pellets to Europe are increasing rapidly as that continent’s energy policies are phasing out coal in the production of electricity. With so much domestic and foreign demand on the horizon, the southern US is expected to profit the most because of its many port facilities and shorter shipping distances to European markets.

BIOMASS Magazine tells us about a new tool which allows cost comparisons of pellets, natural gas and heating oil. FutureMetrics Inc. have released a free download life-cycle cost analysis dashboard that compares pellet boilers to heating oil and natural gas boilers. You can access it here.





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