Friday, September 08, 2006

Getting Megawatts from Manure

According to Thursday's Sun the Soil Conservation District and the County are considering the possibility of building a biomass power plant at the Sudley Landfill in South County. The thinking is that by burning excess horse manure, and "green waste" (e.g., trees, plants, leaves, grass, etc.) that the County takes in, such a power plant would be a good source of renewable energy.

I'm not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, and I certainly support the stated goal of bolstering renewable energy, but a couple of questions do come to mind: Will locally produced biomass be sufficient to power such a plant, or will it require that trash, or material be hauled in from elsewhere in order to fuel the fire? Burning biomass, while renewable, is still releasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, a key ingredient exacerbating global warming. What about taking the manure and "green waste" and using them as the drivers for a municipal composting operation, where County residents and farmers could take nutrient rich fertilizer for the home or farm, to substitute for the petroleum-based fertilizers that are so often used in these applications?

Regardless, I look forward to the results of the County's preliminary study.



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