Biofuel vs. Food debate. The Verge wonders if ethanol is starving Africa and The New Internationalist says food should be used for people, not cars while Troy Media talks about the hazards of growing food for fuel. Yet AG Professional says a new study from the Netherlands refutes the myths about biofuels’ impact on land use.
Ever wonder what happened to next generation biofuels.? Both Energy Trends Insider in What Happened to Advanced Biofuels? and treehugger in What happened to biofuels? offer their views. Second-generation biofuels like cellulosic ethanol and algae biodiesel were to be made from marginal food crops or limited feedstocks, and they would be much cleaner than fossil fuels. The latter observes:
That was a good vision, but somewhere along the way, the dream seems to have fizzled out. Many are still working on making it happen, but most next-gen biofuel projects seem to have been cancelled or scaled back, and 40% of America’s corn production is still going to ethanol production, raising food prices for everyone and using fertile arable land to make fuel that isn’t that much greener than what it replaces..
Waste Management World tells us how plasma gasification works and then explains the pros and cons of waste gasification. Plasma gasification is more efficient than many technologies for conversion of waste into electricity, and can generate a much wider range of additional outputs, including heat, hydrogen, chemicals and synthetic fuels. At the same time it has a lower environmental impact than alternatives, emitting less CO2 – it is the lowest-carbon large-scale waste to energy conversion technology currently available. In addition, it is recognised as a solution to reduce the number of landfills worldwide and to recover valuable materials from waste. The hurdle for this technology is that it is expensive and complex and a commercial gasification plant has yet to be operated despite many attempts to do so. The UK is hoping its Air Products’ Tees Valley Renewable Energy Facility, which is currently under construction, will establish the viability of gasification when it opens in mid-2014.
Research and Markets has a new study on the world market for waste incineration plants. Globally there are almost 2,200 waste to energy facilities. They have a disposal capacity of about 255 million tons of waste per year. By 2017, approximately 180 plants with a capacity of around 52 million annual tons will be added to this total.
From Waste360 we learn China’s waste to energy market is expected to double by 2018. Thermal facilities will continue to be the dominant segment using municipal solid waste as a feedstock. Thermal plants are more popular as they have a low cost of plant installation and a superior rate of processing waste when compared with biological plants. See also pr.com, China’s Waste-to-Energy Plants Market Expected to Grow at 18% CAGR by 2018.
Australia’s waste to energy market is poised for big growth according to Penn Energy. A new report from Frost & Sullivan projects The municipal solid waste to energy sector is expected to see strong growth between 2015 and 2020, with installed capacity reaching around 80 MW and treatment capacity about 12 million tonnes per year by 2020. Meanwhile, the plant value for the biomass and biogas sector is forecasted to have compound annual growth of 3.2% between 2013 and 2020. Currently, biomass power generation is largely composed of bagasse, black liquor (at paper and pulp plants), and wood waste.
By 2024, the Asia Pacific region is projected to have the highest number of municipal solid waste-to-energy plants in the world (with about 47% share of the global market.
The BBC tells us how grease and fat from sewers can fuel our homes. In London, UK Thames Water will shortly be burning the fat that collects in the city’s sewer system to keep the lights on. Piers Clark, the commercial director of Thames Water says “We’ll be harvesting fat from our sewer network and turning it into power in our facility in east London where we hope to provide enough for 40,000 homes.” To achieve this goal the company will need to extract 30 tonnes of fat a day, refine it to create a biofuel for use in a specially-built electric power station producing nearly 130 GWh of electricity every year.
The same source tells us how Norway uses waste as eco-friendly fuel. The Northern European country uses waste thrown out by millions of households from Norway, the UK and elsewhere and turns it into heat and electricity for 56,000 homes in the city of Oslo. The English cities Leeds and Bristol export waste to Oslo as a cheaper alternative to putting it in landfills.
OILPRICE writes about how the Spanish coastal town of Chiclana de la Frontera uses wastewater and sunlight to produce algae-based biofuel. The facility is the first in the world to convert sewage into clean energy. All-Gas is the first to grow algae from sewage in a systematic way to produce a net export of bioenergy, including transport biofuel. The goal is to produce 3,000 kilograms of dry algae per day with an oil content of 20% or enough biodiesel to fill about 200 cars. However, researchers caution it could take years before algal biofuels are commercially viable.
Sweden does not have enough rubbish for its waste to energy industry says OILPRICE. The Nordic country relies on burning its waste to provide electricity and heat to hundreds of thousands of homes, and the country is running out of garbage. The nation of 9.5 million citizens must now import rubbish from other countries in order to feed its waste-to-energy incineration power plants. Each year it imports 80,000 tonnes of garbage, mostly from Norway, to fuel homes and businesses. Sweden then burns it to create heat and electricity and then sends the ashes left behind by the incinerated waste (which contain many highly polluting toxins) back to Norway for disposal in land fill.
Eco-Business notes how a cement company in Luzon, Philippines will be converting landfill garbage into energy. Some 60 metric tons of garbage from Payatas landfill will be processed daily to be create heat and electricity for cement manufacturing by Lafarge Republic.
Bloomberg reports that a UK cheese manufacturer is using animal manure to produce electricity. Thanks to a feed-in tariff (9.24 pence a kilowatt-hour to 15.16 pence a kilowatt-hour) for the electricity generated by its biogas plant, Wyke Farms Ltd.is able to produce all of its electricity to operate its cheese plant. The facility uses the manure from pigs and cows to create the biogas. As a result, the company has reduced its energy bills by up to 1 million pounds ($1.6 million) a year.