The decades-long pursuit of fermenting woody plants into fuel aka cellulosic biofuels is now a commercial reality with two pilot plants just opened and more under construction. This renewable fuel – not made from corn or other food crops – has one-sixth the amount of carbon dioxide compared to petroleum-based fuels. If those forests get, then it could even be claimed that cellulosic fuels are carbon neutral. Of course, there is the ecological footprint of chopping down forests for energy – but that is a debate that is yet to come.
In Columbus, Miss., KiOR has spent more than $200 million on a plant that is supposed to mix shredded wood waste with a patented catalyst, powdered to talcumlike consistency. Its process does in a few seconds what takes nature millions of years: removes the oxygen from the biomass and converts the other main ingredients, hydrogen and carbon, into molecules that can then be processed into
and diesel fuel…
And Ineos, a European oil and chemical company, is putting the final touches on a plant in Vero Beach, Fla., that would cook wood and woody garbage until they broke down into tiny molecules of hydrogen and carbon monoxide. Those molecules would be pumped into a giant steel tank, where bacteria would eat them and excrete ethanol. – NYTimes.com
KiOR’s Columbus, MS Plant
Ineos Vera Beach, FL Plant
via Alternative Fuels’ Long-Delayed Promise Might Be Near Fruition – NYTimes.com.
Forbes Magazine, not a very pro-environmental or pro-renewable energy publication, seems to take great glee in the suggested collision between the California Condor and wind turbines being built in the Tehachapi Mountains. But what the author fails to mention is that Bird/Wind Turbine Collisions account for a miniscule number of avian fatalities each year and brings up a new electrical transmission corridor as a benign part of the landscape (bird/electrical line collisions are the 2nd highest cause of avian deaths) per the US Forest Service. The article admits that no condors have been killed – yet. So, it ends up reading like a hatchet job against renewable energy wrapped up in faux concern for the condor. What’s next – an article about birds being cooked by reflected sun light at solar thermal power plants in the Mojave?
Altamont is the first generation of wind farms, and historically has a significantly higher level of avian kills than all other wind power sites. Continue reading
The Institute for Local Self-Reliance’s 2009 report about available renewable energy that found that 31 states have a surplus of energy to be self-sufficient has been turned into an interactive map [here].