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From Biomass Magazine
By Erin Voegele
On May 19, the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources held a hearing to receive testimony on 26 pieces of legislation related to energy supply, including the recently introduced S. 1264 bill, which aims to establish a national renewable energy standard (RES). Bioenergy was among the topics discussed during the more than two hour event.
S. 1264 was introduced by Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M, on May 11. The bill aims to create the first national threshold for utilities to provide a certain percentage of their electricity from renewable resources, including wind, solar, biomass, landfill gas, ocean, tidal, geothermal, incremental hydropower or hydrokinetic. The RES requirement would phase in, starting at 7.5 percent in 2015 and gradually increase to 30 percent in 2030 and thereafter, through 2039.
During the hearing, Franz Matzner, director of the Beyond Oil Initiative at the Natural Resources Defense Council, submitted testimony in favor of the RES legislation. “The 30x30 RES will promote clean energy source that cut carbon pollution, further expand our powerful clean energy economy which currently employs hundreds of thousands of American workers, drive innovation, and provide a strong market signal that the future lies in renewable energy developed here in America,” he said in written testimony.
Matzner added that 29 states and Washington, D.C., have mandatory renewable energy targets, while seven more have set nonbinding goals. “Between 1998 and 2013, approximately 68 percent (51 GW) of non-hydrorenewable capacity additions have occurred in states with binding renewable portfolio standards. A recent analysis by the Lawrence-Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) found that many states are on track to successfully meet their 2035 requirements within the next few years,” Matzner continued.
“Implementing a federal renewable electricity standard would expand on the success of state-level policies across the country and ensure that our entire nation reaps the benefits of a clean energy economy. A strong federal RES would also secure America’s place as a global leader in clean energy, providing policy certainty and a transparent market signal to drive investment in American companies and manufacturers,” he said.
Matzner also cited recent analysis completed by the Union of Concerned Scientists that found a federal RES would increase renewable energy by more than 265 percent over current levels, driving $294 billion in cumulative new capital investments and decreasing electricity sector carbon dioxide emissions by 10.8 percent below business-as-usual levels in 2030. He stressed these achievements could be accomplished with little impact on electricity prices when compared to business-as-usual, with the maximum average incremental increase in electricity prices in any given year being only 0.2 percent.
In her written testimony, Susan Kelly, president and CEO of the American Public Power Association, objected to the creation of a national RES, noting that 28 states already have RES programs and eight have voluntary RES targets. She also cited the impact of cumulative U.S. EPA proposed regulations. “State and local policies promoting the greater use of renewables, along with EPA regulations to reduce CO2 emissions are sufficient drivers for the increased use of renewable resources. A federal RES is unnecessary,” Kelly said.
“Furthermore, the creation of a federal RES could create a host of issues for utilities that are already subject to state RESs and are also trying to comply with state plans issued under EPA’s final Section 111(d) rule that will be released in the summer of 2015,” she added, noting Udall’s legislation could have the unintended consequence of forcing public power, rural electric cooperative, and investor-owned utilities located in the same state to compete against one another for in-state renewable energy resources to meet state goals set by EPA in its final Section 111(d) rule.
Brent Sheets, deputy director of the Alaska Center for Energy and Power at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, addressed biomass energy during his testimony. “The heat requirement for Alaska far surpasses the electricity requirement, and while a majority of the state’s communities use diesel fuel to meet their heat demand, woody biomass is often a more economical solution, especially in communities separated from the road/rail connected system,” he said.
During the hearing, Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., highlighted District Energy St. Paul’s biomass district heating operation, noting the organization was recently recognized for its leadership in using wood waste to generate heat and electricity for downtown St. Paul while providing customers with stable and competitive energy prices and reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
Responding to a question posed by Franken regarding Alaska’s use of biomass, Sheets noted more than 29 Alaskan communities have invested in biomass projects. Some have been successful and some have not, he said. “The successful ones demonstrate a commitment to the increased manpower that is associated with that, and then within the local communities it provides jobs, cutting down the trees, delivering them, stacking them,” Sheets continued. “In many of the rural communities, unemployment is huge, so any cash you can keep in the local economy is good. So, we have found that augmenting our other sources of power with heat from wood keeps cash in the community a little bit longer and circulating.”
Additional information on the hearing is available on the committee website.
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From Biomass Magazine
Aboitiz Power subsidiary’s Aseagas Corp., which focuses on renewable energy solutions, has inked an agreement with GE’s Distributed Power business to power its first waste-to-electricity project in Lian in the province of Batangas, Philippines.
The 8.8-MW facility, the first “greener” energy venture of Aboitiz, will be a biomass power plant running with GE’s ecomagination approved Jenbacher gas engines. The Batangas plant will utilize organic waste from sugar cane and molasses from a nearby alcohol distillery. Aside from electricity, the plant will have by-products of fertilizer and CO2 that can be sold to farmers and beverage companies, respectively—achieving complete “no additional waste” production. The plant will be able to generate power for an estimated 22,000 homes.
“I think there’s a huge potential for biomass energy in the Philippines. Our population of about 100 million is bound to generate abundant biomass resources including agricultural crop residues, animal wastes and agro-industrial wastes,” says Aseagas chief operating officer Juan Alfonso. “The Philippines’ feed-in tariff allocation right now is 250 megawatts for biomass. Other countries like Germany, for example, have thousands of megawatts of biomass. So we’re just scratching the surface.”
Additionally, the Department of Energy has stated that the Philippines’ supply of biomass resources has the potential to generate a capacity of 4,450 MW, which is equivalent to 40 percent of the country’s energy needs, if developed. Abundant and with zero–carbon dioxide emissions, biomass is considered one of the solutions to the energy challenges of the future.
GE’s innovative gas engines technology will ensure the Aseagas power plant’s high levels of efficiency, modularity and reliability in supplying power to the Philippine grid.
“This collaboration is significant to GE because this is our first power generation deal with the Aboitiz group and is the largest procurement of Jenbacher engines in the Philippines to date,” said John Alcordo, ASEAN regional general manager for GE’s Distributed Power business.
Seven of GE’s Jenbacher gas engines, four J420 and three J320 units, will be delivered to Aseagas by October 2015 for the first of three phases of the project, targeting the power plant to go online before year’s end. The second phase commences early in 2016. DESCO Inc.—GE’s authorized distributor for Jenbacher gas engines in the Philippines—will be in charge of the installation and maintenance of the units.
The Aseagas venture signals rosy prospects in utilizing alternative sources of energy to broaden the country’s energy mix, which is seen as vital in powering sustainable progress. “Aside from contributing to the grid’s power generation mix, hopefully this project also increases awareness on how organic waste can be put to good use, such as for power generation,” Alcordo said.
Founded in 2005, ecomagination is the company’s commitment to technology solutions that save money and reduce environmental impact for its customers and GE’s own operations.
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From Biomass Magazine
US Department of Energy
According to an international report on bioenergy and land use, informed management of bioenergy crops can actually alleviate factors contributing to food insecurity, as well as provide practical avenues to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, promote sustainable energy production, and preserve biodiversity. The Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment (SCOPE), an international nongovernmental organization, published the SCOPE Bioenergy and Sustainability Report, titled Bioenergy and Sustainability: Bridging the Gaps, in April 2015. The Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) funded the work of several national laboratory researchers who contributed to the report.
The 21-chapter report examines global agricultural trends and concludes that land availability is not a limiting factor in the expansion of biobased fuels and products. It features detailed analysis demonstrating how energy crops can be used to improve soil conditions, restore productivity to currently marginalized lands, and expand economic opportunities for agricultural workers. Such findings have significant implications for the growing bioenergy industry, as the study addresses misunderstandings that bioenergy crops inherently compete with food production and worsen food scarcity in certain parts of the world.
Led by researchers from the Sao Paulo Research Foundation, the SCOPE report is the collective effort of 137 experts from 82 institutions and 24 countries to document and analyze impacts, benefits, and constraints related to the global expansion of bioenergy. Contributors include several BETO-funded scientists from Argonne National Laboratory, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
SCOPE used peer-reviewed data and scientific evidence from more than 2,000 sources to evaluate how expanding bioenergy production and use affects energy security, food security, environmental and climate security, sustainable development, and innovation. The report identifies opportunities for bioenergy crops and technologies to improve agricultural productivity and environmental health, and provides a vision for sustainably reducing poverty and reliance on dwindling fossil resources.
BETO funding supports researchers from national laboratories, universities, industry, and non-profit organizations who contribute to peer-reviewed scientific studies such as the SCOPE Bioenergy and Sustainability Report. Learn more about how BETO supports the development of a sustainable bioenergy industry through its Sustainability Program.
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By Erin Voegele
The U.K. Department of Energy and Climate Change has released an updated edition of its public attitudes tracking survey, reporting that 78 percent of U.K. households said they support the use of renewable energy provide electricity, fuel and heat. According to the DECC, this result is consistent with survey results from the past three years.
The majority, 71 percent, of respondents said renewable energy industries and developments provide economic benefits to the U.K. That statistic was also consistent with survey results from 2014 and 2013. In addition, 78 percent said that renewable energy developments should provide direct benefits to the communities in which they are located.
Approximately 63 percent of respondents said they support biomass technologies, up from 60 percent last year. In 2012, 64 percent of respondents indicated support for biomass energy.
While support for renewables is widespread, U.K. households showed much less support for non-renewable energy technologies. Only 39 percent of respondents said they support the use of nuclear energy and only 24 percent said they supported the extraction of shale gas to generate heat and electricity in the U.K. Approximately 38 percent of people said were aware of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, and only 52 percent of those who were aware of the technology said they support its use.
The report also addressed public attitudes toward climate change. About 66 percent said they are concerned about climate change. In addition, 40 percent said they attribute climate change solely to human activity, while 42 percent said they believe climate change in caused by a mixture of natural and human causes.
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