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Fledermaus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-08-09 12:26 PM
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BG&E division to grow biomass for Florida power plant
Georgia-based Biomass Gas & Electric plans to grow 50 percent of the feedstock that will be required to power its soon-to-be-constructed biomass facility, Northwest Florida Renewable Energy Center in Port St. Joe, Fla., at its subsidiary AgTech Renewable Fuels LLC.

The company will begin work on the 45-megawatt power plant in the first quarter of 2010, and is currently working to raise capital to build a laboratory and nursery to grow arundo and miscanthus seed plantlets. AgTech Renewable was formed almost a year ago, upon licensing the technology rights from the University of South Carolina.

BG&E plans to use a micropropagation technology that is applicable for up to 50 species of perennial grasses. Although arundo and miscanthus can yield between 20 and 30 tons per acre, the major limitation in the widespread adoption of the two biomass crops has been the labor-intensive hand propagation and transplanting required for the sterile grasses. BG&Es micropropagation technology involves growing thousands of plantlets in vitro that are then matured in bioreactors for mass row planting, drastically reducing labor requirements.

Were in the process of looking for growers, although its still a ways away, said BG&E spokesman Keith McDermott. The laboratory and nursery will be in close proximity to where the farming operations will be, he added.

Besides energy grasses, NFREC will also utilize wood waste from the local forest industry. What were trying to do is have a good mixture of open and closed-loop sources, McDermott said. Were building the facility in the heart of the nations wood basket, so there are a tremendous amount of biomass opportunities. There are companies down there that have been in the timber business for many, many years, and because a lot of the paper industry has gone overseas, a big void has been leftnot to mention the downturn in the economy with construction and building, so were definitely stepping into a place where were going to be able to affect the economy very positively.

McDermott said BG&E doesnt foresee using the farming operations for 100 percent of the required feedstock of NFREC. Especially at the outset; we dont want to put all our eggs in one basket, he said. We want to help support the local economy from the timber aspect, and also give the farmers something to plant, harvest and transport.
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kristopher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-08-09 01:17 PM
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1. Hmmm.
Edited on Sat Aug-08-09 01:18 PM by kristopher
Greater Transportation Energy and GHG Offsets from Bioelectricity Than Ethanol
J.E. Campbell et al.,
Science324 1055 (2009);
DOI: 10.1126/science.1168885

The quantity of land available to grow biofuel crops without affecting food prices or greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from land conversion is limited. Therefore, bioenergy should maximize land-use efficiency when addressing transportation and climate change goals. Biomass could power either internal combustion or electric vehicles, but the relative land-use efficiency of these two energy pathways is not well quantified. Here, we show that bioelectricity outperforms ethanol across a range of feedstocks, conversion technologies, and vehicle classes. Bioelectricity produces an average of 81% more transportation kilometers and 108% more emissions offsets per unit area of cropland than does cellulosic ethanol. These results suggest that alternative bioenergy pathways have large differences in how efficiently they use the available land to achieve transportation and climate goals.

In spite of the advantages that biomass for electricity holds over biomass for ethanol, I'm still uncomfortable when I see large scale projects like this that are designed to depend on farmed feedstocks. I wouldn't go so far as to say they shouldn't be part of what we are doing, but we should have in place a set of policies to ensure they get much more scrutiny than whether or not someone can make a buck doing it.
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