Midland To Get Biomass Electricity Facility

If all goes according to plan, the Midland Odessa area could be home to a state of the art facility designed to turn waste into electricity by early next year.  This comes from a recent announcement by Cirque Energy Inc., one of a number of companies that will be working together to build and deploy a 2.5 MW biomass gasification power plant.  This would provide enough electricity to power roughly 2,500 Texas homes.

The project will be making use of a deployable gasification unit (DGU) developed by a partnership between Cirque Energy and Northrop Grumman.  The technology is designed to turn solid waste into fuel that can be burned to generate electricity.  This fuel, known as syngas, could be used in place of more traditional fossil fuels such as diesel or natural gas to generate electricity.

The benefit of such an approach is that it creates a new use for waste that would otherwise simply go in to landfills.  A wide range of waste products can be used in this process including; wood waste, animal waste, landscaping waste, paper, cardboard, food waste, and even plastics.

The concept of converting waste into electricity is not new.  But earlier generations of the technology have proven to be inefficient and costly for certain types of waste.   An even larger problem has been the amount of air pollution generated from the process of burning waste for electricity.  The company believes that their version of the DGU which uses low temperature starved air gasification technology could be the key to wide-scale commercial deployment of biomass to energy technology.

The Texas electricity market is conducive to such innovation because it is deregulated and open to competition. The electricity generated by the facility can be sold to the wholesale electricity market.   Under the structure of the Texas marketplace, retail electric providers purchase this power and sell it to end users including residential and commercial electricity users.

See Also: Microsoft Makes Large Texas Wind Power Purchase
See Also: Texas Clean Energy Coalition Report Provides Incentive For Renewable Energy

Biomass And Biogas Energy Explained

When you think of renewable energy, the wind and sun are probably the first places your mind goes. While solar and wind power are easy to see and understand in the form of panels and turbines, biomass and biogas are two energy forms also powering your everyday life. Clean-tech research and development firm Clean Edge released a 2012 study showing the biofuel industry grew to more than $95 billion in 2012, up more than $12 billion from the previous year. Here’s what to know about this growing industry:

Biomass Renewable Energy

Biomass energy is derived from organic matter that comes from living plants, crops and trees. Most of the energy works by converting the carbohydrates contained in the plant matter into a usable form, as Clean Edge notes. If you’ve ever cooked on a campfire, you’ve used a type of biomass energy. However, there’s a fine line between a renewable energy source and a destructive energy source.

The Natural Resources Defense Council reports biomass power, when done correctly, is a good source of renewable energy. Some states, such as Massachusetts, focus on selecting biomass sources that won’t contribute to pollution and other harmful issues. If this type of careful selection is not used, it ends up being harmful to the environment. Fast-growing plants and trees are the best type of material, since they replenish faster than they’re being used. If the energy is produced using resources that cannot renew themselves in a reasonable time frame, it is counterproductive to the renewable energy goal.

Biomass energy is used for nearly five percent of energy in the United States, reports the Institute for Energy Research. This is not as high as other types of renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power, but it provides a great alternative for locations that don’t receive high wind or lots of sunlight. If you’re looking to get into producing biomass energy, the first step is to determine whether you have a good source of biomass on hand before you dive in head-first. You also want to compare energy suppliers for deals on an electric company that supports you augmenting your energy output.

Biogas Renewable Energy

Biogas energy might make you think companies are trying to extract energy from the methane emissions produced by livestock. However, the gas that it’s actually referring to is the gas that is generated when organic matter breaks down when oxygen is not available, according to The Insititute for Energy Research. Either anaerobic bacteria or a fermentation effect breaks down the organic material.

Common organic matter used for biogas generation includes manure, plants and crops. It can be used in a variety of ways, such as renewable fuels, natural gas, electric production, heating, and transportation. Biogas is a renewable energy source that can be easily used in a residential setting. You use a digester to store your organic material, cover it with water to limit the oxygen, and then seal the container up tight. The average energy usage of a family requires a 200-gallon biogas generator, although you can start smaller if you want to get used to the process.