Indiana is one of those states that lacks a RPS (Renewable Portfolio Standard). Coal-dependent, Indiana obtains 95 percent of its electricity from plants running on coal. The coal largely is imported from Wyoming. Still, the Hoosier State, unlike some of its Southern brethern, is well-positioned to make the switch away from its dirty energy.
Note on usage of the term, “brethern”. “This plural of brother, which has existed since at least 1200 ad, is now archaic in English” – The Free Dictionary. (As to the term, “archaic”, see life on the planet as we know it.)
Such is the conclusion of a NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) report. Green, Inc. blogger Todd Woody summarizes the report, “Analysis of the Rural Economic Development Potential of Renewable Resources (PDF),” which provides a road map for how Indiana “could become one of the nation’s greenest states.”
There are 3 main strategies that the NRDC maps. By fuel source, they are wind, crop waste and manure. (The report includes a chart that also lists energy efficiency, but that’s about it. Sorry, Amory.)
- 1. Wind
“Indiana has some of the best wind potential in the eastern U.S. and has a competitive advantage as a wind producer over most other states because of its location,” said the report’s author, Martin R. Cohen, said during a conference call on Wednesday.
Mr. Cohen noted that while the wind blows stronger in states like North Dakota and Nebraska, Indiana already has the transmission system in place to bring wind-generated electricity to eastern cities.
If Indiana increased wind energy production to 4,500 megawatts from its current 530 megawatts, it would create thousands of jobs and attract turbine manufacturers, according to the report. An owner of a 500-acre farm could earn $30,000 a year from leasing land for wind turbines, Mr. Cohen estimated.
- 2. Crop Waste
Woody gives valuable electronic space to the idea of cellulosic ethanol, while noting that biomass also could be used for the production of electric power. Unfortunately, he omits acknowledging that the latter is more efficient.
Farmers also could profit, the report said, if Indiana starts harvesting corn stalks, wheat stalks and soybean residue and uses the biomass either for power production or to make ethanol.
“Indiana literally has lying on the ground 33 million tons of crop residues,” said Mr. Cohen.
He said that using just one-third of that biomass for ethanol could replace 28 percent of Indiana’s gasoline consumption or it could generate 20 percent of the state’s electricity.
The NY Times blogger also omitted the idea of substituting coal with biomass to reduce GHG, an idea that could be appropriate to Indiana utilities that are coal-dominated, yet situated in a farm state. This could help if Indiana or the federal government adopts a renewable portfolio standard.
Still, there are some major concerns with electric power from crop waste. In general, this blog advocates more so the use of crop waste as a waste stream for co-digestion. Such an approach maintains a focus on “growing soil” since a by-product can be used as a soil enhancement. In traditional agriculture, crop waste is used as a soil enhancement, and, it would seem unwise to omit this source of soil nutrients for the sake of energy.
- 3. Manure
“Agricultural runoff,” writes Charles Duhigg, “is the single largest source of water pollution in the nation’s rivers and streams.” Indiana is part of the Mississippi / Atchafalaya watershed; and, Indiana farms, especially its hog factory farming, contribute to runoff that results in a massive dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico.
As one of the country’s top five hog-producing states, Indiana could make biogas from methane, a potent greenhouse gas emitted by the manure of swine, cows and other farm animals, according to the report. Biogas production on hog farms could generate $10 million in annual revenue.
Anaerobic digestion is
the Sh8ta favorite After Gutenberg topic. This blog endorses such a waste to energy approach, even though there are concerns about anaerobic digestion as a renewable energy resource. And, it should be noted, conversion of the waste stream from hog farming presents some specific challenges. Still, all in all, it would seem a good thing if we saw more federal support for more digesters in major farm states including Indiana.
The NRDC report author, Martin R. Cohen, compares the potential for harnessing wind power in Indiana with North Dakota and Nebraska. Yet, in the Midwest, Iowa and Minnesota have been leading in wind power installments.
“Factory farming is a dirty business.” Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the founder of Waterkeeper Alliance and the Chief Prosecuting Attorney for Riverkeeper, told a congressional subcommittee on February 4 that factory farms producing hogs are a greater danger to the United States than Osama bin Laden.
The NRDC report contains a set of federal and a set of state policy recommendations, to include a list of funding sources. Re-directing the waste stream from factory farming is a very specific recommendation. It is unknown whether the installation of digesters qualifies under REAP (the Rural Energy for America Program), or from the DoE / USDA partnership, “the Biomass Initiative“. Maybe, a tweak in policy administration is needed, eh?