Leaders of the wind, solar, geothermal, hydropower, biomass, ethanol and energy efficiency industries have banded together to call for an American energy bill to drive the nation toward a clean energy future. The coalition of renewable energy groups wants Congress to move quickly to pass an energy bill, with or without carbon pricing, to help create and secure new jobs, stabilize the U.S. economy and develop the domestic industries that will replace fossil fuels.
At this time of year, when many municipalities are gearing up for holiday tree recycling programs, the city of Houston is dealing with something far more monumental – more than 5.6 million cubic tons of tree waste left behind after Hurricane Ike swept through Southeast Texas in early September.
The city turned some of the debris into mulch, but launched a contest in October, Recycle Ike, to spark ideas for keeping the remaining tree waste from simply being disposed of in landfills.
The winners, announced last week, are a Rice University team of students and scientists who will create a biomass charcoal from the tree remains. The group was among more than 200 entrants from around the world that submitted ideas.
Biomass technology promises what few other alternative fuel schemes can: energy from waste. Given the controversial use of corn (and other food crops) for biofuel, which is turning out to be less of a greenhouse gas saver than once thought, waste is looking pretty attractive.
A new plant in Central Texas, dedicated last week, promises to take sewage waste, organic garbage, grass clippings and manure, and convert them into gasoline.
Initially the plant, designed as a large-scale demonstration project, will use forage sorghum as its base material. Forage sorghum, unlike other varieties grown to produce sorghum seed for food products, does not steal directly from the human food chain. It is used as feed for cattle, but even so, it’s more renewable than corn because about twice as much (5-7 tons) can be grown per acre.
And the greenest state could soon be… No, not California. Not Washington, or Oregon, or Colorado.
Or at least it could be. Maybe. The islanders have plantation-sized plans for moving off fossil fuels and into clean energy. Their goal: Meet 70 percent of Hawaii’s energy needs with clean energy sources like solar and wind power by 2030. That’s a bigger reach than any other state have taken, or feels able to take.
Across the country, 24 states have set firm goals for adding renewable power to their energy portfolio. Another four states have non-binding goals for their Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS), as they’re called.
Most of these look to increase the amount of renewable energy to 10 to 30 percent of the total used by the state by 2015 or 2020.