A DREAM BECOMING A REALITY
The dream that today's organic wastes could become tomorrow's advanced biofuels and green power to drive our cars and light our homes is becoming a reality--a major component in achieving energy independence and an improved environment for America.
Conversion Technologies enable the co-production of advanced biofuels, biobased chemicals and green power from organic wastes and hydrocarbons, freeing the world from dependence on fossil fuels, while moving beyond the use of food resources in the production of biobased products. The production of low-cost electricity and ethanol (and soon, butanol and drop-in fuels) from America's waste streams will supplement or replace gasoline, convert vast quantities of waste to energy and significantly reduce greenhouse gases, communities' costs of waste disposal, the need for landfills and the nation's dependence on foreign oil.
This Association is tracking approximately 120 advanced biofuels or biobased chemicals projects and 70 biomass-to-power projects that are in development or under construction across North America using some form of gasification. However, due to its repressive statutory and regulatory environment, almost none of these are in California. California-based technology providers have either moved out of the state, or located in other states, renewable energy projects representing approximately $1 billion in capital expenditures.
Following are just several conversion technology projects that are progressing toward commercial production across North America:
In Florida, INEOS Bio completed construction in 2012. It is the world's first facility to combine thermochemical and biochemical processes to co-produce ethanol and electricity Its design capacity is 8 million gallons of ethanol annually and 6.3 MW of power from 300 tons per day of green wastes, citrus residues and other solid waste. The project benefitted from a $50 million US DOE Section 943 biorefinery grant and an additional $75 million USDA Section 9003 loan guarantee.
The Indian River BioEnergy Center of INEOS Bio in Vero Beach, Florida
In Edmonton, Canada, Enerkem is nearing completion of construction of a waste-to-clean energy facility that will annually produce 9.5 million gallons of advanced biofuels from 110,000 tons of municipal solid waste. The project is a public-private sector collaboration between the City of Edmonton and the Government of Alberta. It will enable the City of Edmonton to increase its residential waste diversion rate to 90%. Meanwhile it is progressing on plans to begin construction on a similar project in Mississippi, aided by $130 million in federal grants and loan guarantees.
In Ottawa, Canada, after rigorous and extensive emissions testing, Plasco Energy Group has been issued the certificates of approval for the permanent production of electricity from 95 tons per day of post-recycled municipal solid waste, and is now pursuing plans to expand the facility and construct additional projects, including the one in association with California's Salinas Valley Solid Waste Authority, which has been put on hold due to the regulatory uncertainty that exists in California.
Elsewhere across the nation, companies like KIOR and POET are commissiong facilities that produce advanced biofuels, including drop-in fuels, from cellulosiic wastes such as corn stover and forest residues. Fulcrum BioEnergy, whose technology has been validated at pilot scale, is poised to move into construction on a commercial facility in Nevada.
Today, with a claimed statewide average recycling rate of 65% (12% of which, by the way, is green waste that is being placed in landfills for use as alternate daily cover), California is still landfilling 30 million tons of MSW per year.
For example, Los Angeles County, with over 10 million residents, is the most populated County in America. Despite recycling 60% of the trash it generates (one of the highest recycling rates in the nation), it still disposes 38,000 tons of trash each day‚ enough to fill the Rose Bowl every 10 days. This number is expected to increase to nearly 50,000 tons per day by 2020.
The state's population is expected to grow by some 10 million people over the next 25 years. Unless more flexible legislative and regulatory policies are put in place, enabling the use of its waste resources for energy production, the state will landfill more than one billion tons (that's one billion tons) of post-recycled municipal solid waste during that time--and a major opportunity to achieve energy independence, AB 32 GHG reduction goals and a Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) will be lost. It is folly to believe that this volume of post-recycled material (and the state's reliance on landfills) can be meaningfully reduced or eliminated through source reduction, traditional means of recycling and composting alone, on which California's waste disposal hierarchy now relies.