Bioenergy in California

Last week I helped organize a webinar on Bioenergy in California, presented by the UC Davis Policy Institute for Energy, Environment and the Economy. Stephen Kaffka, an expert agronomist with years of experience in the field of bioenergy crops gave an insightful hour-long discussion of the resources available to California for producing energy and fuels from our abundant supplies of biomass (slides available here: http://policyinstitute.ucdavis.edu/?page_id=2666). I’ll let the slides speak for the full presentation but a few key themes emerged:

  1. On its own, bioenergy will find it hard to compete against fossil fuels, but when one considers the possible co-benefits, many project become more attractive. For example:
  •  Using anaerobic digestion on animal waste from dairies and cattle operations to produce energy and recover nutrients, which can be used as fertilizer.
  •  Generating power from wood residue generated by fire-control forestry operations. Most of this wood is not saleable at present, gasification or clean combustion can help recoup the costs of fire and reduce the risk of major wildfire.
  •  Using waste from orchard and nut industries, which are at present, used only as animal bedding before being landfilled.

2.  All biomass is local and the best uses for any particular type of biomass will vary.

3.  We could be making much better use of our bioenergy resources than we are.

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