Balancing the Use of Crop Residues for Biofuels with Impacts on Soil and Greenhouse Gases

by Jessica Bass

The use of crop residues as a second-generation source of biofuels may hold potential to help the United States fulfill its 2022 goal production quota outlined in the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act. Yet, this annual accumulation plays an important role toward maintaining soil organic carbon (SOC) stocks and reducing soil erosion, protecting field health to sustain year-after-year of yields. Adler et al. (2015) use the DayCent biogeochemical model to analyze the costs and benefits of crop residue removal and use based upon its impact on crop yield, SOC content, and N2O emissions, over the course of twenty years. They examined these relationships with respect to a variety of anticipated treatment options, including: a baseline condition with no residue removal, a sample of 50% residue removal without any replacements, 50% residue removal with a nitrogen replacement equivalent to the amount removed, and a 50% residue removal and equivalent application of a high-lignin fermentation byproduct (HLFB). Continue reading

Growing Energy: an Analysis of the Role Forests Play in Europe’s Renewable Energy

by Griffin Merians

Picture yourself walking through a forest, surrounded by green foliage, the gentle creak of swaying trees, and… energy? Forest and biomass energy are key sources of renewable energy, however, according to an article published in the journal, BioResources, not all nations are equally blessed in this regard. The study used a cluster analysis approach to divide 27 countries into 9 “clusters” based on factors such as forest cover, annual wood production, the amount of energy consumed, greenhouse gas emissions, energy dependence, and expenditure on research and development. Continue reading

Global Developments in Algaculture Point Toward a Bright Future

by Gage Taylor

With the global petroleum industry currently bottoming out, algaculture, the farming of algae to convert CO2 to ethanol, has never looked more appealing. Compared to other methods of biofuel production (corn, for example), it produces more oil and doesn’t put pressure on land use. However, since the amount of oil that can actually be used from a standard ton of algae is only around 28%, it’s far from the most cost-effective method available. There’s also the additional problem of removing CO2 contaminants before the process can even begin, which is currently accomplished through a high-energy, high-cost process. However, developments in Australia and the US are working to make algaculture viable. Continue reading

Biomass: The Key to Unlocking Africa’s Hydrogen Energy Potential?

by Charles Kusi Minkah-Premo

An article in the August 2015 edition of the Environmental Progress & Sustainable Energy journal assesses Africa’s promising hydrogen energy potential (HEP) from biomass.

Africa’s long-standing issues with electricity generation and access have been well documented. With Northern Africa and South Africa accounting for 30% and 45% respectively of the total electricity generation in Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) —excluding South Africa— generates only 25%. The alarm bells start ringing when you consider the fact that 80% of Africa’s population resides in SSA and a whopping 67% of people living in this region lack access to electricity. Continue reading

Oslo Pilots CCS System at Waste Incineration Plant to Slow Climate Change

by Erin Larsen

Norway just became the first country to attempt to capture CO2 from the fumes of burning trash. A test plant at a waste incinerator in Klemetsrud will test several technologies for CO2 capture with a goal of presenting results to the government by June 2016. If successful, this innovative project will be a huge step forward for carbon capture technology and will help Norway mitigate the environmentally degrading impacts of its largest emission source. Continue reading

Projected Increases in Biomass Energy in the United Kingdom

by Isaiah Boone

In a recently written article on ChronicleLive, Peter Mccusker explores the potential impact that biomass energy will have not only on the energy market in the United Kingdom, but on the labor market as well. Biomass energy is produced from the burning of plant and animal remains. (http://www3.epa.gov/climatechange/kids/solutions/technologies/biomass.html) There are a number of schemes and plans being developed in the North Eastern part of the United Kingdom that involve the construction of new biomass energy plants and the conversion of previously non-biomass energy plants to biomass energy plants. (http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/business/business-news/biomass-power-could-bring-thousands-10726768) These plants have the potential to yield new jobs and new, cleaner energy. Continue reading

Assessing Wood-Energy Pricing Policies in Urban Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso)

by Monkgogi Bonolo Otlhogile

Burkina Faso is a landlocked, energy-dependent country, which relies heavily on firewood as its primary household fuel. In an effort to mitigate deforestation, air pollution, and lung-related illnesses caused by wood burning, the Burkinabe government has attempted many energy interventions in the hopes of transitioning the country to cleaner fuels such as LPG and kerosene. Ouedraogo (2013) used an AIDS model to explain why wood-energy pricing and substitutions policies have failed in Burkina Faso. The author calculated fuel-related income, own- and cross-price elasticities for households in Ouagadougou to determine household’s dependency on wood energy in Burkina Faso. Ouedraogo found that there was a relative inelasticity for wood-energy demand compared to the fuel price and each household’s income. This confirmed that the growing population of Ouagadougou is dependent on wood-energy. In addition, the cross-price elasticities between wood-energy and other fuels showed that there was very little substitutability between wood-energy and other fuels. These two factors have led to the failure of wood-energy pricing policies in urban Ouagadougou. However, the author argues that the use of these elasticities could allow for the Burkinabe government to identify the most cost-effective policy. Ouedraogo identifies LPG as a possible substitute for wood-energy as it exhibits the greatest cross-price elasticity and urges the government to supplement wood-energy pricing policies with the promotion of LPG cooking equipment, as it is the greatest barrier to energy transition in Burkina Faso. Continue reading

GreatPoint Energy Makes a Great Point

by Alexander Flores

GreatPoint Energy has discovered a way to produce low-cost, clean natural gas from biomass, petroleum coke, and coal utilizing its patented Bluegas catalytic hydromethanation process. This Bluegas is able to operate at a much higher efficiency than competing technologies while benefitting from lower capital intensity, a superior environmental footprint, nearly complete carbon capture, and a significantly lower cost of production. The natural gas produced can be transported through existing pipeline infrastructure while remaining much less expensive than liquefied natural gas. By being completely interchangeable with drilled natural gas, it also can be used for power generation, residential and commercial heating, and the production of chemicals. Continue reading