Professional Engineers Of North Carolina

FALL 2014

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16 the Professional Engineer Fall 2014 Tere are many good reasons for promoting the development of bioenergy resources in North Carolina. In addition to being an infnitely renewable source of energy, in-state production of biogas and bioenergy can hedge against increasing energy costs stemming from out-of-state and nondomestic fuel supplies. Some other U.S. states are taking aggressive regula- tory steps to realize the potential from transitioning their thinking from "waste" to "resource." For example, Connecticut, Vermont and Massachusetts recently introduced legislation to ban food wastes from landflls. Major U.S. cities such as Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and New York City followed suit. Leading universities, such as North Carolina State University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University have analyzed systems that hold promise for commercialization. North Carolina is one of 28 states with a Renewable Energy and Energy Efciency Portfolio Standard (REPS), and we have ample organic feedstock resources. So, the burning question is: Why doesn't North Carolina see these systems coming online? Capital costs of developing biogas and bioen- ergy systems often are cited as the greatest hurdle to development, along with general lack of knowl- edge and understanding on the part of policy- makers and the public. Te federal government has identifed U.S. biogas development as a priority, given our rich national resources. In August of this year, the USDA, along with the EPA and the Department of Energy (DOE), published the "Biogas Opportunities Roadmap," describing steps that these three federal agencies will take to advance biogas development in the United States. Te report outlines strategies to overcome barriers currently inhibiting the development of a robust biogas industry, create jobs and bolster our economy. In addition to economic benefts, the document aims to inform the public on the benefts derived from biogas development relative to reduced greenhouse gas emissions and environmental quality improvements. According to the "Biogas Opportunities Roadmap," the United States has more than 2,000 active biogas harvesting sites, but claims more than 11,000 additional sites can be developed, with the potential to power more than 3 million American homes — if used to fuel electricity-generating power plants. In addition to fueling electricity generators with biogas, it can be used as a transportation fuel, in the form of compressed natural gas (CNG), liquefed natural gas or fuel cells. Tese uses of biogas may be more benefcial and efcient than generated electricity. Where there are several options for non-fossil-fuel electricity generation (wind turbines, solar, hydro- power and even nuclear), only electric vehicles and CNG have been presented as alternative fuels in the transportation sector. Further development of U.S. biogas strategy should involve seeking a balance in fuel diversity B i o G a s Methane capture potential — combined sources Municipal WWTPs, landflls, agriculture Source: National Renewable Energy Laboratory U.S. bioenergy potential derived from common organic wastes

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