How Renewable Energy Can Solve Smog Problem in China

China is currently facing serious environmental problems, with potentially few solutions. Currently, this is mostly taking the form of serious smog issues plaguing North China, with more than 24 cities on red alert. However, with airports being shut down due to lacking visibility and the economy of China being heavily disrupted, action needs to be taken to solve this serious smog problem. While limited action has been taken, perhaps renewable energy is the key to cutting down China’s smog.

smog-china

How Bad Is the Problem?

The smog problem in China has become increasing worse from 2015 to 2017, with more than 90 micrograms of pollution per meter squared. These levels of air pollution are similar to the levels recorded previous to 2014, when the Chinese premier declared a war on pollution due to the health dangers posed by rising air pollution levels.

However, since 2015, levels of air pollution have risen once again. This pollution has had hard hitting effects on urban areas, especially the Chinese capital Beijing, and has caused widespread disruption to the lives of Chinese citizens and economy of the country.

The air pollution leads to the cities becoming hotter than ever. Urban Heat Island effect, which refers to buildings absorbing the sun’s heat well, is exacerbated by the smog. In fact, a car in the heat can reach temperatures of 114 degrees Fahrenheit after just 20 minutes, making travelling on hot days nearly unbearable for any living creature. In order to decrease the heated condition of China, it is essential to decrease the amount of smog covering the cities.

What Has the Chinese Government Done?

The Chinese government has taken limited action in an attempt to minimize the air pollution being created in the country. This includes the Atmospheric Pollution Prevention Plan, which acknowledged the danger posed by air pollution levels and aimed to reduce coal usage in urban areas like Beijing.

However, this is not representative of the main action the government has taken. Primarily, the Chinese government has focused on individual areas and attempting to reduce local pollution levels through efficient coal burning and banning the burning of waste materials, especially on farms. These solutions, while effective on a short-term basis, are not all that is needed, though.

Investment in renewables can reduce China's dependence on coal for power generation

Investment in renewables can reduce China’s dependence on coal for power generation

China needs to reduce its overall usage of coal produced energy, which currently stands at 64 percent of total energy consumption. While this has already been happening in China, the further introduction of renewable energy could be of great help to China’s pollution levels.

How Could Renewable Energy Help?

Many people believe renewable energy to be a small affair, something undertaken by the Western world in a vain attempt to reduce our collective guilt concerning climate change and wastage levels. This is simply not the case. Renewable energy is a $120 billion industry that receives investment and application across the world. This includes solar energy, waste-to-energy technology, wind energy, hydroelectric energy and many more attempts to reduce overall energy usage.

Through investment in renewable energy, China could reduce its dependence on coal and increase the efficiency of its energy production and economy. Smog is directly created by China’s use of coal for its energy production, and by investing in other renewable means, China can simultaneously improve its health situation.

In fact, the obviously positive nature of investment in renewable energy can be clearly seen through the Chinese government’s already existing plans to further incorporate it into the economy. In the five-year plan announced in 2016, the Chinese government explicitly stated it would decrease air pollution levels through investment in wind, solar and biomass energy production technologies.

While the plans additionally included investment in making the coal industry more efficient and reducing emissions on an industrial and commercial level, clearly renewable energy is believed to be a valid alternative energy source.

Overall, it is clear that renewable energy can certainly help with China’s serious smog problem. Whether this should be in tangent with further investment in the coal industry or necessitate the end of widespread coal usage in China is still a question for debate.

About the Author

Emily Folk is freelance writer and blogger on topics of renewable energy and conservation. To get her latest posts, check out her blog Conservation Folks, or follow her on Twitter.

3 Major Benefits of Using Solar Inverter as a Primary Source of Residential Energy

In recent years, the solar inverter market has witnessed a surge in demand. That’s because  people have started realizing the benefits of switching to solar energy for residential as well as commercial use. Even the central and state governments are stressing on the need to switch to solar energy. They are even offering various subsidies for installing solar power systems on both residential and commercial properties. So why do you think the government is encouraging the shift from local grids to solar energy. Well, in this post, we discuss just that. Listed below are three important reasons/benefits of using a solar inverter as a primary source source of residential energy. Let’s read on:

benefits of solar inverter

1. It is a clean source of energy

While one of the reasons for shifting from fossil fuels to solar is that fossil fuels are exhaustible and are not going to last forever, an even more significant reason for this shift is that unlike fossil fuels that cause a lot of pollution, solar energy is a clean and green source of energy. It helps reduce the carbon footprint which is the need of the hour. And this reflects in the way governments across the globe have been encouraging renewable sources of energy.

India, too, is not an exception, and that is evident from the fact that the Indian government is providing subsidies for installing solar inverter systems. And the good thing is that many people across the country have already started installing solar inverter systems on their residential and commercial properties. So, if you too want to do your bit towards making the Earth a better place to live, go solar!

2. It helps save a lot of money

Well, if you have been worried about the initial investment cost of installing a solar inverter system, we already told you that the Government of India provides subsidies for installing solar inverter systems. And if this reason is not enough let us also tell you that one of the major benefits of installing a solar inverter system is that you are able to generate electricity for free. That’s because the solar energy from the Sun is a free source of energy.

Also, the yearly savings that most households make after installing solar inverter systems are such that they are able to recover their initial cost of investment within 6-7 years. And since the average lifespan of a solar inverter system is anywhere between 15 to 20 years, it means that one is able to make substantial returns on their investment once they have recovered their initial investment cost.

Now isn’t that an awesome reason for you to take the plunge?

3. It provides relief from long and frequent power cuts

Here’s another major benefit of installing a solar inverter system. If you live in an area where there are long and frequent power cuts and even the normal UPS inverter is not of much help, then installing a solar inverter system will help you reduce your dependence on your local grid. In fact, solar inverter systems have gained a lot of popularity in areas where there’s no local grid.

For example, you may be aware of the latest trend of people buying vacation homes at faraway locations. Most of these locations lack a local grid, and therefore, people rely on solar inverter systems for their energy needs.

Ready to make a move?

If you haven’t shifted to solar already, it’s high time you make a move. We suggest you to get in touch with the solar experts’ team at a reputable brand such as Luminous India and they would walk you through the process of choosing the right solar inverter system for your residential property.

What Every Student Need to Know About Bioenergy Technologies

The problem of pollution is a severe and crucial one. As the number of people living on Earth is constantly increasing, so does the strain we put on Earth. There is a higher and higher demand for products and services for people, some that generate high amounts of waste. Plastic pollution is a pressing problem, especially because it is estimated that by 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the seas. But plastic is not the only waste humanity is generating.

We put a strain on this planet not only for meeting our food demands but also for making our lifestyles as easy as possible. Switching to renewable sources of energy is another solution to combat the effects of climate change and slow them. Bioenergy is a rather new field, but one that is gaining more and more momentum.

bioenergy technologies

So, which are the things you need to know, study, and learn about bioenergy technologies that will make your life better?

Bioenergy Technologies Rely on Biomass

Switching to using green technologies is one of the things you could do to lower your carbon footprint and protect the Earth. These kinds of technologies, which protect the Earth and reduce the strain put on it, are called biotechnologies. They are used to generate bioenergy by burning biomass. And it seems that these technologies are gaining more momentum, as more people begin to be aware of the impact of their choices on the environment.

Humanity has always lived in close communion with nature. If people protect nature, they contribute to their overall happiness. Why? Because we rely on nature to get food, to have a shelter, and why not, to relax and discover some of its marvels. When we pollute it, we are in fact poisoning ourselves. Chemicals enter the soil and poison the crops, which are then eaten by animals and, lastly, by people.

There are many books and essay examples on this topic, written by any writing service. And all highlight that it is crucial to shift to sources of energy that produce less waste and protect the environment more. Burning biomass (plant or animal material) to produce energy is one of the most effective and eco-friendly ways to meet humanity’s demand for energy.

Burning biomass produces heat, and it can also be used to produce energy and biofuel. Biomass is represented by agricultural residues such as corn cobs or wood chips. Every organic material can be considered biomass and can thus contribute to more climate-friendly goals.

biomass-gasifier

The Rise of a College Recycling Program

Every university welcomes its students every year and promises to offer the best learning experience. The field of bioenergy caught the interest of many youngsters, who want to study more about the innovations in bioenergy. Learning about this technology from books is one of the ways you can do this. But there are many essay examples by essay services on this topic that could shed a light on this topic more.

At the same time, more and more universities acknowledge the need for a college recycling program. Some of them have already implemented one and they encourage students to become more aware of their habits and increase the recycling rate within the campus.

Because climate change, global warming, and pollution are so pressing issues of today’s world, more and more students are asked to write essays and find solutions for these problems. Biomass energy is one of the solutions that could help people combat the effects of climate change, along with college recycling programs. If you want to write more about this topic, you can find here https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/technology/ free essay examples to inspire you.

More and more universities are opening up their research programs in this area, and it becomes crucial to have more and more experts in this field. Students need to be aware of the current technological advancements in the field of bioenergy. This will enable them to come up with innovative solutions for a healthier planet.

Ending Note

There are currently many bioenergy technologies that are popular in the world. Relying on biomass to produce heat and then electricity seems to be a pretty good idea. This would also reduce the waste humanity is generating, protecting the environment, and eliminating pollution. Of course, we still have a long way to go. This is why many universities are opening up their research programs in this field and inviting students to be part of this journey.

Bioenergy might be the technology of the future and students could be the ones that are nurturing the growth of this field. Not only for green energies and technologies but also for recycling programs that should be in place. Humanity has always lived in strong communion with nature and it offered us so much. Protecting it is important because this is the only home we have.

Renewable Energy and its Applications

Renewable energy. Clean energy. Green energy. Sustainable energy. Alternative Energy. Renewal Energy. No matter what you call it, energy such as wind, solar, biomass and hydroelectric is having an impact on your life and could have an even bigger impact in the future. Renewable energy, in the most basic terms, is precisely what it sounds like. It’s power that comes from sources that regenerate, unlike fossil fuels, which only exist in a limited amount.

The cost of alternative energy systems has dropped sharply in recent years

From 2000 to 2016, the use of renewables in the United States more than doubled and is expected to continue to grow. In 2016, they made up about 10 percent of total energy consumption and 15 percent of electricity generation. During the last 5 years, green energy patents filing worldwide has increased by 50 percent. Consumption of renewable energy has grown worldwide due to government incentives and requirements for renewable energy and the desire to switch to cleaner fuel in order to protect the environment.

There are a number of different sources of renewable energy in use today. Here are some of the most common renewable energy resources and their applications:

Solar Energy

The U.S. solar industry has grown at an average annual rate of 68 percent over the last decade in the form of rooftop solar panels for individual buildings, solar farms built by utility companies and community solar projects, which produce solar for energy users in a certain area through a collection of solar panels.

In Australia the solar industry is also increasing with a record breaking 3.5 million panels installed last year. Queensland was the leader in solar panels that were installed.

Solar photovoltaic panels capture sunlight and convert it directly into electricity, which can power a small device such as a watch or sent into the grid to be distributed to a utility’s customers.

Wind Energy

People have been using windmills to utilize the wind’s energy for a long time, but today wind turbines are used to capture that energy and turn it into electricity. There are approximately 53,000 wind turbines operating in the United States today.

Wind turbines consist of a large tower, which is often around 100 feet tall, and several blades that use the power of the wind to spin. The blades are connected to a shaft that spins a generator in order to create electricity.

Like solar energy, power generated with wind can either be used for a specific application such as pumping water or powering a farm, or transferred into the electrical grid to meet other energy needs.

Biomass Energy

Biomass is another common form of renewable energy. Biomass is any natural substance such as wood, plant matter, gas from landfills and even municipal solid waste that contains stored energy from the sun.

When those substances are burned, they release that energy, which can be used as heat or fuel. Biomass can also be made into a liquid or gas that can be used as fuel.

Bioliquids, such as ethanol and biodiesel, are frequently used to power vehicles. Around 40 percent of the corn grown in the U.S. today is used for biofuels. Researchers are currently exploring new ways biomass can be used and additional substances that could be used for biomass energy.

Hydro Energy

Hydropower, energy generated with water, is one of the oldest and the most common renewable energy resource in the U.S., making up 6.5 percent of utility-scale electricity generation and 44 percent of generated renewable energy.

When water flows, it produces energy. We capture this energy by allowing moving water in rivers, waterfalls or elsewhere to turn generators that produce electricity. Hydroelectric plants can also be man-made, as is the case with dams. Man-made reservoirs hold water through the use of dams. That water is then released to flow through a turbine and create electricity.

Benefits of Renewable Energy

The main benefit of renewable energy sources is the fact that they release very little greenhouse gases and so are better for the environment. Because electricity makes up the largest share of our greenhouse gas emissions, changing how we get our energy is crucial in the fight against global warming.

Biofuels are increasingly being used to power vehicles

Biofuels are increasingly being used to power vehicles

Another key advantage is the fact that they are renewable, which means we won’t ever run out of them. This stability could make access to energy more stable in the future. It can also keep energy prices more predictable, because the markets are subject to changes in supply.

Renewable energy is also flexible and can power large areas or single homes. Additionally, renewable energy projects create a number of well-paying jobs and tend to have a significant economic impact.

Key Drawbacks of Clean Energy

Just like with fossil fuels, there are some disadvantages as well. Renewable energy plants are subject to fluctuations in wind, sunlight and other natural resources, meaning some days or in some particular months, a facility might produce more electricity than others. Today, in areas where renewables are common, fossil fuels are often used to make up any shortcoming in renewable energy production.

Due to their reliance on natural occurrences, renewables may fare better in some areas than others. An area with lots of direct sun all day long will be more suitable for a solar plant than somewhere that’s often dark and cloudy. Renewable energy projects also often require large areas of land, and while renewable energy tends to be cheap, initial construction and development costs can be quite high.

Despite these disadvantages, renewables are proving an important part of the energy mix of today and of the future, especially in the face of environmental concerns and worry about the availability of fossil fuels. Chances are we won’t see the end of the growing renewable energy industry any time soon.

Unending Benefits of Solar Street Lights

Solar power is getting increasing popularity as a dependable source for street lighting all over the world. Some of the benefits associated with solar street lights include reduced dependence on conventional energy, conservation of energy and less reliance on the national grid. In countries experiencing abundance of sunlight, solar lights are the best option to illuminate the streets, garden, parks and other public spaces.

solar-lights-highway

Solar-powered lights are a perfect eco-friendly green lighting solution

Nowadays, solar street lights are powered by PV panels, in-built battery, LED lights and smart sensors, all integrated into a single compact unit. Solar LED street lights have emerged as a cost-effective and environment-friendly to light up roads and public spaces. LED lights are widely acknowledged for energy conservation, are long-lasting and good-looking, and are maintenance-free. These characteristics make LED-based solar street lights well-suited for commercial as well as domestic lighting applications.

Key Features

A modern solar street light has embedded solar panel, inbuilt lithium-ion batteries, battery management system, night and motion sensors as well as automatic controls. The fully automatic device comes with LEDs, inbuilt and replaceable Lithium-ion battery and passive infrared (PIR) sensors. A typical solar street light is weather-proof and water-resistant, has low insect attraction rate and low glare and has a longer life.

The embedded solar panel converts solar power into electrical energy which is stored in the inbuilt battery, and used for dusk-to-dawn lighting operations. The main innovation of modern solar street lights is the battery management system which is facilitated by the presence of night and motion sensors.

During the first 5 hours of night, the system works at average lumens brightness. Subsequently, the intensity of the light reduces till dawn or until PIR sensor is activated by human movement. When people are within a certain radius away from the light, it automatically turns to its full brightness. This smart feature makes solar street lights device a perfect combination of renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Solar powered lights by Deelat Industrial has been tried and successfully tested in a wide variety of domestic and commercial applications. The device is well-suited for lighting up streets, courtyards, gardens, parks, compounds, boundary walls, car parks etc. in an eco-friendly and cost-effective manner.

Unending Benefits

Due to off-grid nature of solar street lights, solar street lights incur minimal operational costs. Such lights are wireless in nature and are independent of the utility company. Compared to conventional street lights, solar street lights require almost zero maintenance. Due to the absence of external wires, these lights do not pose any threat of accidents like electrocution, strangulation and overheating. Infact, solar lights illuminate the streets throughout the night irrespective of power cuts and grid failures.

Solar street lights are a delight for environmentalists around the world as it can provide significant lowering of carbon footprint of individuals, homes and businesses. In other words, solar-powered lights are a perfect green lighting solution. In terms of cost, solar street lights are a better investment than conventional street lights if the capital as well as O&M costs are considered.

Biomass Market in Japan: Perspectives

Biomass is being increasingly used in power plants in Japan as a source of fuel, particularly after the tragic accident at Fukushima nuclear power plant in 2011. Palm kernel shell (PKS) has emerged as a favorite choice of biomass-based power plants in the country. Most of these biomass power plants use PKS as their energy source, and only a few operate with wood pellets. Interestingly, most of the biomass power plants in Japan have been built after 2015.

Biomass-Power-Plant-Japan

Palm Kernel Shells

Palm Kernel Shell is generating very good traction as a renewable energy resource and biomass commodity in Japan. This is because PKS is the cheapest biomass fuel and is available in large quantities across Southeast Asia. PKS, a biomass waste generated by palm oil mills, can be found in plentiful quantities in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand.

PKS must meet the specifications before being exported to Japan. Some key specifications for PKS exports are: moisture content, calorific value and impurities or contaminants (foreign materials). All three variables must meet a certain level to achieve export quality. Japanese markets or their consumers generally require contaminants from 0.5 to 2%, while European consumers of PKS need 2% – 3%.

Japan usually buys with a volume of 10,000 tonnes per shipment, so PKS suppliers must prepare a sufficient stockpile of the PKS. The location of PKS stockpile that is closest to the seaport is the ideal condition to facilitate transportation of shipment.

PKS has emerged as an attractive biomass commodity in Japan

PKS has emerged as an attractive biomass commodity in Japan

Wood Pellets

Wood pellets are mostly produced in from wood waste such as sawdust, wood shaving, plywood waste, forestry residues, and related materials while using tools like track saws, table saws, circular saws, miter saws, etc. The development potential for quantity enlargement is also possible with energy plantations. Technically the properties of wood pellets are not much different from the PKS.

Wood pellet price is more expensive than PKS. Wood pellet production process is more complex than PKS, so wood pellet is categorized as finished product. The quality of wood pellet is generally viewed from its density, calorific value and ash content. Indonesia wood pellet export is not as big as PKS, it is also because of the limited producers of wood pellet itself.

Japan buys wood pellets from Indonesia mostly for testing on their biomass power plants. Shipping or export by container is still common in wood pellet sector because the volume is still small. Currently, the world’s leading producer of wood pellets come from North America and Scandinavia. Even for Indonesia itself wood pellet is a new thing, so its production capacity is also not big.

Future Perspectives

For a short-term solution, exporting PKS is a profitable business. Wood pellets with raw materials from energy plantations by planting the legume types such as calliandra are medium-term solutions to meet biomass fuel needs in Japan. Torrefaction followed by densification can be a long-term orientation. Torrified pellet is superior to wood pellet because it can save transportation and facilitate handling, are hydrophobic and has higher calorific value.

Top World Universities for Studying Renewable Energy

Renewable energy has become an important and reliable resource that must be maintained adequately. Because technology has evolved at such a fast pace, the energy world has changed within the last decade. In countries such as Iceland, Costa Rica, or the UK, the renewable energy generation has changed the way in which we look at our resources. Since this type of energy is a reliable alternative to fossil fuels, these countries (and others) started to raise awareness by switching to renewable energy. Not only does this resource use zero-carbon electricity but it is also emission-free, so it’s a great source of energy.

Today, we’ll be discussing why renewable energy is important, how we can help promote this paradigm shift, and what the best universities to study renewable energy are. Let’s dig in!

top universities to study renewable energy

Why Is Renewable Energy Important?

Renewable energy includes wind, solar, geothermal, biomass, and hydroelectric energy. This type of energy is clean and is a better resource for us to use. Switching to this type of energy will help our planet thrive, so check out the most important reasons why switching to renewable energy is essential.

  • Global warming emissions would lessen, and we’d see less harmful impacts on nature. There would be less frequent storms and the sea level would stop rising. Extinction could also be solved, as this is one of the most widely discussed essay topics today.
  • Pollution affects everyone on this planet, so improving the air that we breathe would lead to improved public health. Cleaner energy resources maintain cleaner air and require less water.
  • Plus, renewable energy is a source of inexhaustible energy, meaning it never ends. Extracting oil from our planet’s soil can only be done up to a certain point; and that point is not far away. Our resources are ending, so we must switch to another alternative resource to take care of our world. Climate change must be addressed.
  • Looking at the social benefits, there would be an increase in jobs, with more people being involved in this energy paradigm shift. Believe it or not, solar panels don’t install themselves, and farms cannot do without humans. Technicians, laborers, and farmers will be highly needed for the future. The more jobs we’ll be able to provide, the better our economies will do.
  • Oil, prices have fluctuated for years since oil is considered a commodity. Natural disasters can disrupt the production of oil, while production costs can exceed the desired price limit. This issue has caused many international problems over the years. Switching to renewable energy can lower the demand for natural gas and thus, lower the price of using energy.
  • Plus, renewable energy is a reliable and resilient We need this type of energy in case other natural disasters or events start happening more frequently.

How Can I Start Using Renewable Energy?

Change starts with one person – the rest will follow. Here is how you could switch to renewable energy depending on the state you live in. Don’t rush or guilt yourself; in the end, you’ve been using non-renewable energy your whole life. Take things step by step and be kind to yourself. You will learn. In fact, we’re all still learning.

If you’re a student in college and not yet completely aware of the situation we’re dealing with, you could check out essays about different countries in the world and their limited non-renewable energy resources. There are many essay services that students can access and get a better understanding of how to switch to renewable energy. Universities are another good resource, since students could chat with professors and browse through libraries and books for various essay examples on this subject. Getting your information from multiple sources is vital, since our planet needs our help.

electrical-engineering

The Best Universities for Studying Renewable Energy

1. UNIBA

Located in Bari, Italy, this university is one of the best for studying renewable energy. It features bachelor’s and master’s programs and addresses the current environmental issues we’re all dealing with. You could also take online classes at UNIBA. Plus, Italy is fun to visit.

2. European Masters Renewable Energy

EUREC rates 4th on the global renewable energy university top. Its headquarters are located in Brussels, Belgium. The school has over 43 research programs available for students worldwide.

3. FUNIBER

If you want to study solar energy, this is the place for you. FUNIBER is an International Iberoamerican University that offers master and doctoral degrees for interested students.

4. MIT

Of course, the renowned MIT must be on this list, as it features one of the best renewable energy programs in the US. Unfortunately, they can only offer a minor in energy studies for now, but they’re working on developing their options.

5. Centre for Alternative Technology

Considered 3rd in the renewable energy study world, CAT is the place to go if you’re looking to study in the UK. You can get lots of practice experience here and get a job soon after graduation, according to many student reviews.

6. Mid Sweden University

Placing first on the top renewable energy universities, Mid Sweden University is located in Sundsvall, Sweden. It offers online education due to the current circumstances and also offers master’s degrees opportunities.

7. Politecnico de Coimbra

Located in Coimbra, Portugal, Politecnico de Coimbra is one of the top five universities in the world for studying renewable energy. The best program is electrical energy conversation and power systems, so check it out if you decide to sign up for it.

Wrapping Up

Studying renewable energy is highly important for the reasons you’ve read before. We need to protect our planet and ensure that she’ll live for a long time. And what better way to do that than by switching to renewable energy?

Biomass as Renewable Energy Resource

Biomass is a key renewable energy resource that includes plant and animal material, such as wood from forests, material left over from agricultural and forestry processes, and organic industrial, human and animal wastes. The energy contained in biomass originally came from the sun. Through photosynthesis carbon dioxide in the air is transformed into other carbon containing molecules (e.g. sugars, starches and cellulose) in plants. The chemical energy that is stored in plants and animals (animals eat plants or other animals) or in their waste is called biomass energy or bioenergy.

Biomass-Resources

A quick glance at popular biomass resources

What is Biomass

Biomass comes from a variety of sources which include:

  • Wood from natural forests and woodlands
  • Forestry plantations
  • Forestry residues
  • Agricultural residues such as straw, stover, cane trash and green agricultural wastes
  • Agro-industrial wastes, such as sugarcane bagasse and rice husk
  • Animal wastes (cow manure, poultry litter etc)
  • Industrial wastes, such as black liquor from paper manufacturing
  • Sewage
  • Municipal solid wastes (MSW)
  • Food processing wastes

Biomass energy projects provide major business opportunities, environmental benefits, and rural development.  Feedstocks for biomass energy project can be obtained from a wide array of sources without jeopardizing the food and feed supply, forests, and biodiversity in the world.

1. Agricultural Residues

Crop residues encompasses all agricultural wastes such as bagasse, straw, stem, stalk, leaves, husk, shell, peel, pulp, stubble, etc. Large quantities of crop residues are produced annually worldwide, and are vastly underutilised. Rice produces both straw and rice husks at the processing plant which can be conveniently and easily converted into energy.

Biomass from Agriculture

McLeod Harvester fractionates the harvested crop into straw and graff

Significant quantities of biomass remain in the fields in the form of cob when maize is harvested which can be converted into energy. Sugar cane harvesting leads to harvest residues in the fields while processing produces fibrous bagasse, both of which are good sources of energy. Harvesting and processing of coconuts produces quantities of shell and fibre that can be utilized.

Current farming practice is usually to plough these residues back into the soil, or they are burnt, left to decompose, or grazed by cattle. These residues could be processed into liquid fuels or thermochemically processed to produce electricity and heat. Agricultural residues are characterized by seasonal availability and have characteristics that differ from other solid fuels such as wood, charcoal, char briquette. The main differences are the high content of volatile matter and lower density and burning time.

2. Animal Waste

There are a wide range of animal wastes that can be used as sources of biomass energy. The most common sources are animal and poultry manure. In the past this waste was recovered and sold as a fertilizer or simply spread onto agricultural land, but the introduction of tighter environmental controls on odour and water pollution means that some form of waste management is now required, which provides further incentives for waste-to-energy conversion.

animal waste

The most attractive method of converting these organic waste materials to useful form is anaerobic digestion which gives biogas that can be used as a fuel for internal combustion engines, to generate electricity from small gas turbines, burnt directly for cooking, or for space and water heating.

3. Forestry Residues

Forestry residues are generated by operations such as thinning of plantations, clearing for logging roads, extracting stem-wood for pulp and timber, and natural attrition. Harvesting may occur as thinning in young stands, or cutting in older stands for timber or pulp that also yields tops and branches usable for biomass energy. Harvesting operations usually remove only 25 to 50 percent of the volume, leaving the residues available as biomass for energy.

sustainable forestry

 

Stands damaged by insects, disease or fire are additional sources of biomass. Forest residues normally have low density and fuel values that keep transport costs high, and so it is economical to reduce the biomass density in the forest itself.

4. Wood Wastes

Wood processing industries primarily include sawmilling, plywood, wood panel, furniture, building component, flooring, particle board, moulding, jointing and craft industries. Wood wastes generally are concentrated at the processing factories, e.g. plywood mills and sawmills. The amount of waste generated from wood processing industries varies from one type industry to another depending on the form of raw material and finished product.

Generally, the waste from wood industries such as saw millings and plywood, veneer and others are sawdust, off-cuts, trims and shavings. Sawdust arise from cutting, sizing, re-sawing, edging, while trims and shaving are the consequence of trimming and smoothing of wood. In general, processing of 1,000 kg of wood in the furniture industries will lead to waste generation of almost half (45 %), i.e. 450 kg of wood. Similarly, when processing 1,000 kg of wood in sawmill, the waste will amount to more than half (52 %), i.e. 520 kg wood.

5. Industrial Wastes

The food industry produces a large number of residues and by-products that can be used as biomass energy sources. These waste materials are generated from all sectors of the food industry with everything from meat production to confectionery producing waste that can be utilised as an energy source.

Solid wastes include peelings and scraps from fruit and vegetables, food that does not meet quality control standards, pulp and fibre from sugar and starch extraction, filter sludges and coffee grounds. These wastes are usually disposed of in landfill dumps.

Liquid wastes are generated by washing meat, fruit and vegetables, blanching fruit and vegetables, pre-cooking meats, poultry and fish, cleaning and processing operations as well as wine making.

These waste waters contain sugars, starches and other dissolved and solid organic matter. The potential exists for these industrial wastes to be anaerobically digested to produce biogas, or fermented to produce ethanol, and several commercial examples of waste-to-energy conversion already exist.

Pulp and paper industry is considered to be one of the highly polluting industries and consumes large amount of energy and water in various unit operations. The wastewater discharged by this industry is highly heterogeneous as it contains compounds from wood or other raw materials, processed chemicals as well as compound formed during processing.  Black liquor can be judiciously utilized for production of biogas using anaerobic UASB technology.

6. Municipal Solid Wastes and Sewage

Millions of tonnes of household waste are collected each year with the vast majority disposed of in open fields. The biomass resource in MSW comprises the putrescibles, paper and plastic and averages 80% of the total MSW collected. Municipal solid waste can be converted into energy by direct combustion, or by natural anaerobic digestion in the engineered landfill.

sewage sludge biomass

At the landfill sites, the gas produced, known as landfill gas or LFG, by the natural decomposition of MSW (approximately 50% methane and 50% carbon dioxide) is collected from the stored material and scrubbed and cleaned before feeding into internal combustion engines or gas turbines to generate heat and power. The organic fraction of MSW can be anaerobically stabilized in a high-rate digester to obtain biogas for electricity or steam generation.

Sewage is a source of biomass energy that is very similar to the other animal wastes. Energy can be extracted from sewage using anaerobic digestion to produce biogas. The sewage sludge that remains can be incinerated or undergo pyrolysis to produce more biogas.

How to Reduce the Ecological Footprint of Wind Turbines

Wind power is the second most widely used renewable energy source in the U.S., just behind hydropower. Unlike solar, wind power creates little to no pollution and requires very little maintenance. However, it has one significant problem — a detrimental effect on wildlife and the local ecosystem.

Industrial wind farms wreak havoc on bird and bat populations, plus they pose an ecological disturbance to the land. While the energy generation is incredibly sustainable, the influence turbines have on local wildlife populations adds controversy to the success of this energy source.

wind-farm-Lake-Turkana-Kenya

The future implementation of wind as a leading source of energy will depend on our ability to reduce its ecological footprint. Employing best practices that work to minimize adverse effects on local habitats will play an integral role in the construction of new farms.

Analyze Data

Determining the exact impact of wind turbines on wildlife is hard to discern. The number of birds and bats killed from direct contact is only one variable. The long-term effects on food chain supplies, population and habitats are hard to quantify. The first step in reducing the environmental impact is determining where the influence is greatest.

Research estimates that in North America alone, wind turbines kill an estimated 140,000 to 328,000 birds each year. This statistic does include other flying creatures, like bats, whose populations have been significantly affected by wind farms.

Bats are essential to the function of our ecosystem and food system. In 2015, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) added guidelines about the voluntary process of halting turbines at lower speeds during periods of the night when these animals are most active. These efforts may reduce deaths by up to 30%, though research demonstrates an extra delay could potentially increase that number to 90%.

Land Use Planning

Close attention to site selection and preparation may curtail the consequences of wind farms on the surrounding environment. Construction is a major ecosystem disruptor, as installing transmission lines and removing soil can hurt plants and animals in the vicinity. Experts encourage many wind companies to engage in erosion control practices, which includes re-establishing native vegetation and other restoration techniques.

Wind farms are generally criticized by their inflexibility when it comes to site location. Compared to solar panels, which can be installed on buildings and utilized across a diverse array of environments, wind farms are more limited. One benefit, however, is that people can establish these turbines on abandoned industrial land. The ability to re-purpose previously degraded land with a renewable energy source is a victory for wildlife and humans alike.

downned-pylons-windfarm

If the wind is too strong, wind turbines can’t operate safely and must shut down.

A final consideration when it comes to reducing ecological impact includes preventative measures, such as monitoring a habitat before construction. By tracking the environment before breaking ground, builders can better determine the best location for the farm.

Innovative Technology

As wind power becomes a cost-effective and energy-efficient option, advanced technology will lessen the impact of turbines on wildlife. According to U.S Energy Information Administration, the wind industry is collaborating with the U.S government to find optimization solutions.

Several ways exist in which wind farms can reduce their impact on local habitats and take preventative steps affecting animal and bird populations. One example includes Ultrasonic Acoustic Deterrents (UADs), which emit a loud noise that deters bats but is incomprehensible to the human ear.

Other solutions include painting wind turbines purple or shining ultraviolet lights on the structures to alert migratory species. Some manufacturing companies plan to make innovations in how to construct these structures. Changes include alterations to the blade surfaces and more sound-absorbent materials.

A Comprehensive Approach

The cost of wind power has dropped almost 50% in the last four years. With an increased incentive to invest in renewables, experts predict the number of wind farms around the world to grow rapidly in the next decade.

Wind power has many benefits, one of which being that, unlike solar, return on investment for the production and installation of turbines is five to eight months, with each structure designed to produce for at least twenty years. With an increase in implementation, the ecological impact is unavoidable. As a result, the focus will be on reducing the environmental impact of wind turbines, rather than decreasing their utilization as an energy source.

How to Reduce the Establishment Costs of Miscanthus

Miscanthus has been lauded as a dynamic high potential biomass energy crop for some time now due to its high yields, low input requirements and perennial nature. Miscanthus is commonly used as a biomass fuel to produce heat and electricity through combustion, but studies have found that miscanthus can produce similar biogas yields to maize when harvested at certain times of the year.  Miscanthus is a C4 grass closely related to maize and sugarcane, it can grow to heights of three metres in a single growing season.

Miscanthus-Elephant-Grass

High Establishment Costs

However, The high cost of growing miscanthus has impeded its popularity. High establishment costs of miscanthus are as a result of the sterile nature of the crop, which means that miscanthus cannot be propagated from seed and instead must be propagated from vegetative material.

The vegetative material commonly used is taken from the root structure known as rhizomes; rhizome harvesting is a laborious process and when combined with low multiplication rates, results in a high cost for miscanthus rhizomes. The current figure based on Irish figures is €1,900 ha for rhizomes.

Promising Breakthrough

Research conducted in Teagasc Oak Park Carlow Ireland, suggests that there may be a cost effective of method of propagating miscanthus by using the stem as the vegetative material rather than having to dig up expensive rhizomes. The system has been proven in a field setting over two growing seasons and plants have been shown to be perennial.

A prototype miscanthus planter suitable for commercial up scaling has been developed to sow stem segments of miscanthus. Initial costs are predicted at €130 ha for plant material. The image below shows the initial stem that was planted in a field setting and the shoots, roots, and rhizome developed by the stem at the end of the first growing season.

miscanthus-stem

Feedstock for AD Plants

Switching from maize to miscanthus as a feedstock for anaerobic digestion plants would increase profitability and boost the GHG abatement credentials of the systems. Miscanthus is a perennial crop which would provide a harvest every year once established for 20 years in a row without having to be replanted compared to maize which is replanted every year. This would provide an obvious economic saving as well as allowing carbon sequestration in the undisturbed soil.

There would be further GHG savings from the reduced diesel consumption required for the single planting as opposed to carrying out heavy seedbed cultivation each year for maize. Miscanthus harvested as an AD feedstock would also alleviate soil compaction problems associated with maize production through an earlier harvest in more favourable conditions.

Future Perspectives

Miscanthus is a nutrient efficient crop due to nutrient cycling. With the onset of senescence nutrients in the stem are transferred back to the rhizome and over-wintered for the following year’s growth. However the optimum date to harvest biomass to produce biogas is before senescence.

This would mean that a significant proportion of the plants nutrient stores would be removed which would need to be replaced. Fertiliser in the form of digestate generated from a biogas plant could be land spread to bridge nutrient deficiencies. However additional more readily available chemical N fertiliser may have to be applied.

Some work at Oak Park on September harvested miscanthus crops has seen significant responses from a range of N application rates. With dwindling subsidies to support anaerobic digestion finding a low cost perennial high yielding feedstock could be key to ensuring economic viability.