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Teru Talk News

Teru Talk Newsletter

Volume II, Issue 12, March 19, 2012 
Teru Talk by Michael Theroux (pronounced "Terú")  

Teru's Trash Talk

We humans can talk ourselves into the tightest corners. Right now, California's powers that be are struggling with regulatory confusion stemming from crazy-talk, where the labels we've selected get in the way of what we're really trying to do. Once again, we're splitting hairs on what is and what is not "renewable energy" to determine who gets the credit for making and using it. The problem: electricity and fuel gas or liquids tend to be distributed through wires and pipes, and those conduits don't care whether the electrons or the fuel molecules were made from renewable sources or not. Once they're in that wire or pipe, it gets nigh on impossible to tell 'em apart. Since the "powering" function is the same at the destination, the electrons and molecules are essentially identical and clean to specification, we're stuck with applying arbitrary metrics.
The "greening" of our petroleum-sourced natural gas supply by pipeline injection of biomass-source methane is a good example. Do we say that the resulting gas is 33% Renewable, when it contains a third biomethane and two-thirds oilfield gas? Or must we hold to a standard that demands all or nothing, and try somehow to keep those molecules separate? How do we assign renewable energy credits (RECs) to provide in-state market incentives for renewable fueling, when we're busily buying, selling and "wheeling" the blended commodities throughout the entire multi-state infrastructure of wires and pipes?
Back to Basics: the point here is to replace as much of the petro-sourced imported stuff with the non-petro-sourced home-grown stuff on a national basis as we can accomplish, socio-enviro-economically. We've got the tools and the know-how to make and upgrade biomethane to pipeline quality; we've certainly got plenty of landfills, manure, food waste and sewage to convert into the fuel gas. But try that project magic in California, and you can't get it certified as Renewable. Yet Texas has already decided it's OK to put upgraded landfill biomethane into pipes running to California and California counts THAT as Renewable, causing an imbalance and considerable angst. Greening the gas in the pipeline from Texas is just good sense, good Commerce, good for them as smart regulators and businesses, and good for us as Users. Besides, it's not like we can cut off the pipelines and wires at the state border, right?
The real question for the California legislature and agencies should be "Why CAN"T we inject our own to-specification biomethane into in-state natural gas pipelines, right here, right now, and count it as Renewable?"

Hey Rube!

This sticky wicket is up for discussion at the California Energy Commission meeting later this month, and comments are due on the 23rd, see our Action Item below. Weigh in, please.

The Week's News

LanzaTech and New Zealand Steel Move from Pilot to Commercialization

New Zealand's waste gas to alternative fuels and chemicals company LanzaTech has announced expansion of its partnership with New Zealand Steel, a subsidiary of Australian company Bluescope Steel. 03/18/2012


VERBIO Starts Up Industrial Waste Straw-to-Biomethane Plant in Germany

German company VERBIO Vereinigte BioEnergie AG (VERBIO) has announced opening its industrial-scale waste straw to biomethane anaerobic digestion facility in Zörbig, in the Saxony-Anhalt region of Germany. 03/17/2012


Quantum and Surigao City, Philippines Plan Regional Waste Plasma Facility

Houston, Texas based multi-sector holding and development company Quantum International and the City of Surigao, Philippines, have announced plans for a regional plasma gasification plant. 03/17/2012


California REC Market Update Webinar Scheduled for March 30, 2012

The US Department of Energy's (DOE) Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy Green Power Network has announced a webinar to provide an update California's Renewable Energy Certificate market, scheduled for March 30, 2012 at 11:00 am to 12:30 pm Pacific Time. 03/17/2012


Primus Raises $12 MM to Complete Biomass Gasification Demo Plant

New Jersey's thermal conversion company Primus Green Energy, Inc has announced completion of financing needed to complete construction of the demonstration facility for single-loop biomass gasification to liquid fuels at its Hillsborough, NJ headquarters. 03/16/2012


First US Dairy Sustainability Awards Recognize Dairy Waste to Energy

The Innovation Center for US Dairy has announced its first year's Sustainability Award winners for outstanding dairy farm sustainability, dairy processing and manufacturing sustainability, and including two awards sponsored by the Center for Advanced Energy Studies, Idaho National Laboratory (INL) for outstanding achievement in energy. 03/16/2012


Rivertop Renewables Begins Contract Green Chemical Manufacturing

Missoula, Montana's green chemistry company Rivertop Renewables has announced successful scale up from laboratory to pilot, and the beginning of manufacturing of its carbohydrate oxidation technology platform by DTI under contract. 03/16/2012


WELTEC Begins Construction on Huge Biogas Refinery in Arneburg, Germany

Germany based WELtec BioPower GFmbH has started construction on what will be Germany's largest anaerobic digestion (AD) plant for the conversion of manure and agricultural-sourced biomass to biomethane. 03/15/2012


UD Researchers Study Microalgae that Eats Emissions and Makes Biofuel

The University of Delaware (UD) has announced promising research by assistant professor Kathryn Coyne into the microscopic algae species Heterosigma akashiwo, cosmopolitan algae that Coyne and her team discovered produces an enzyme capable of detoxifying nitric oxide, one the key pollutants in industrial smoke stack emissions. 03/15/2012


Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance Offers Nine-Month Internships

The Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance (NARA) has opportunities for Native American graduate students in the fields of environmental science, forestry, biology, and engineering to work with the Columbia River Basin tribes on project teams for nine months beginning in Fall 2012. 03/14/2012


BiogenGreenfinch Selected to Build Food Waste to Energy Plant in Wales

The United Kingdom (UK) based food waste digestion specialist BiogenGreenfinch has announced that it has been selected by the Gwynedd Council of Wales as the preferred bidder for the design, construction and operation of a food waste anaerobic digestion (AD) facility. 03/14/2012


Ince Park Will Provide Energy from Waste, £1.5 Billion Boost to NW UK Economy Ince Park has announced completion and release of a positive economic assessment with predictions of a £1.5 billion boost to North West United Kingdom (UK) economy. 03/14/2012


Ameresco's SRS Biomass Cogeneration Facility Celebrates Successful Startup

Massachusetts based Ameresco has announced today's well-attended ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate successful operational start-up of the new bioenergy cogeneration plant at the Savannah River Site (SRS) in Aiken, South Carolina. 03/13/2012


UK Green Investment Bank Will Open Main Offices in Edinburgh and London

The United Kingdom's (UK) Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has announced that the country's newly established Green Investment Bank (GIB) will be headquartered in Edinburgh, Scotland, while the GIB's main transaction team will be located in London, "playing to the strengths" of both areas. 03/13/2012


POET-DSM Groundbreaking Celebrates Start of Construction for Project LIBERTY In Emmetsburg, Iowa, the newly formed joint venture of POET-DSM Advanced Biofuels LLC celebrates the start of construction on Project LIBERTY, the commercial-scale cellulosic biofuels plant adjacent to POET's operating corn ethanol plant. 03/13/2012


SWJM Collaborative Schedules Meetings on Forest Restoration Purpose and Need  The Southwest Jemez Mountains (SWJM) Collaborative will hold open public meetings on March 29, 2012 at the Santa Fe National Forest Office and on March 31, 2012 at the Valles Caldera Science and Education Center, Jemez Springs, New Mexico. 03/12/2012

The Week's Action Items

Due 03/23/2012: Comments to CEC on Biomethane to Pipeline RPS Eligibility

The California Energy Commission (CEC), prompted by requests from the state Legislature, has released notice of consideration of the suspension of Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) Eligibility Guidelines governing electricity generating facility (powerplant) contractual use of and RPS accreditation for biomethane injected into the natural gas pipeline infrastructure. 03/17/2012


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Teru Talk is an online publication of JDMT, Inc with the goal of opening the dialogue and providing current news and commentary on issues and successes associated with waste conversion to renewable energy, biofuels and other bio-based products for resource recovery.

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The Teru Talk Newsletter is published weekly or more or less frequently, primarily depending on what is going on in the world of waste conversion or ours.