A Biomass Model for Renewable Energy in 2003

The billions of dollars invested in solar, wind, hydrogen, compressed air, inert gas, geothermal, biomass, ethanol, biodiesel, wave generation and other such renewable notions, today produce less than 3 percent of our national energy requirement. The future does not hold much more promise under current conditions.

New thinking is required to move the Renewable Energy sector from promise to the future. It is painfully obvious that much scientific exploration and business ventures into Renewable Energy sectors have resulted in little progress toward making the United States energy independent. The only honest statement about the energy situation in the United States in 2002 is that we continue to be dependent on 100-year-old infrastructure and technologies based on fossil fuels to power our economy. With the off-loading of each oil or liquid natural gas tanker, the wealth, security and future of our nation is exported. We have relied on the “innovative models” of Enron, Williams, El Paso and other such organizations to provide the silver bullet cash stream to attract capital to build new infrastructure. Unfortunately, this dependence on substantially biased innovation has resulted in huge wastes of national assets and an understandable resistance for financial interests to make new energy related investment in any form. Our financial community has moved investment portfolio questions from “What is your projected dividend strategy?” to “What is your per share growth strategy?” to “What is your four year compounded 60 percent per year and exit strategy?” What chance does Renewable Energy infrastructure investment have in this fiscal environment? Initially, to open the huge floodgates of capital on the sidelines, a fluid and open association must be established between the scientific, engineering, marketing, financial, and environmental communities and Congress (SEMFEC) to mediate confusion, disassociation, outright thievery and turf protection. It would be helpful to initiate a comprehensive, non-bureaucratic assessment of the potential, attainability and environmental impact of each existing renewable technology to provide a new guideline for the SEMFEC discipline sectors. As an example, can the nation afford to build, finance and accomplish production, distribution and storage of compressed hydrogen in 20 years employing hybrid or other technologies? After all, compressed hydrogen is the genesis of the infamous words “Houston, we have a problem!” The oil industry faces the reality of exploring for an increasingly diminishing resource. And surely, the consumer will soon be notified by price increases that the remainder of the world is in the market and has the capital to purchase this scarce resource. Natural gas provides a “clean” alternative to coal and oil for both electricity generation and transportation. However mined natural gas is still a fossil fuel and the SEMFEC communities have been burned by the flawed economic models of the late 1990s. Pipelines and delivery systems cannot provide for the many new natural gas resources being developed in Wyoming and Louisiana. Coal as today’s backbone of the electricity generation business has the mining, rails and “daily” infrastructure in place to keep huge generators hot and in continuous operation. The simplicity and relative ease of procuring the coal resource makes coal the choice of the SEMFEC community. The difficulty surrounding the procurement and delivery of biomass resource is in sharp contrast to the established ease of procurement and delivery in the centralized coal plant/infrastructure/generation and grid distribution model. The concept of decentralized generation and energy production facilities with community micro-grids and local delivery systems offers an immediate and promising opportunity for substantial production of renewable and green “new age energy.” A new national demonstration program which crosses the boundaries between existing and proven technology and new age Renewable Energy is emerging in the small rural community of Eagar, Arizona. Under a grant from the National Forest Service and partnership arrangements with Arizona Public Service; Apache county; the Environmental, Economic Communities Organization; the White Mountain Development Trust; Squire, Sanders and Dempsey, LP; Ponderosa Capital Corporation and the Barry M. Goldwater Center for Renewable Technologies, a new Renewable Energy business model is emerging. The Environmental Forest Solutions (EFS) Eagar biomass scenario is a managed and entirely sustainable program which is rapidly evolving into the model to productively and profitably employ forest and agriculture waste resources. The basis for the Eagar model is to privately structure and cooperatively finance community owned sustainable small business platforms. The platforms will include new initiatives in harvesting and processing of forestry and agriculture fuels and waste materials, value-added manufacturing, remediation of landfill, solid and manufacturing wastes, gray water employment, cooperative service organizations and small .5 MW to 20 MW generation and distribution infrastructure. The EFS Eagar bioproducts, biofuels and bioenergy business platforms mesh the renewable (and indomitable) energy of 73 million Americans living in 23,000 rural communities, with the sustainable and environmentally inert energy stored in forest and woodland small diameter trees, forest wastes, agriculture fuel crops and residue. The EFS Eagar model has determined that this energy can be employed to build these communities rather than destroy them. The EFS Eagar model provides an exciting and sustainable base for new economic vitality, environmental considerations and environmentally inert Renewable Energy production. The bioproducts, biofuels and bioenergy model for Eagar and other communities which adjoin a forest or woodlands can efficiently employ the green and Renewable Energy stored in the small diameter trees, forest wastes and slash (fuels) in the 192 million acres of national forests and additional potential in BLM, BIA and state forests and woodlands. Each ton of the nation’s forest and woodlands contains about 130 gallons of hydrocarbons stored in non-commercial timber. Under the Eagar model, each acre would have 7 cords of material harvested once every ten years. Each cord equals 2800 pounds or 1.4 tons per acre; 1.4 tons X 7 cords per acre = 1,274 gallons of hydrocarbons per acre. Unfortunately management policies have allowed substantial fuel build-up in the forest and woodlands which have resulted in wildfires. The wildfires have efficiently employed this hydrocarbon resource to incinerate over 10 million acres in 2000 and another 7.1 million acres in 68,232 wildfires during 2002. These hydrocarbon assets could have been employed in the battle to insure our energy future, instead of being forever wasted. The cellulose hydrocarbon assets have been almost totally eliminated in the Renewable Energy mix. An official of the DOE bioenergy initiative recently commented that the forests are not considered a viable biomass resource due to management, environmental and litigious concerns. It is not difficult to ascertain why the SEMFEC communities have looked at more favorable and safe Renewable Energy directions. Several prominent examples of cogeneration facilities which employ(ed) forest wastes to generate electricity and heat were grossly over-sized and have experienced poor or non-existent return on investment. Other facilities have shuttered due to poor forest resource assessment to sustain capacity or because of the closure of the neighboring cellulose processing or manufacturing plant which produced the biomass wastes for generation. Others biomass plants have failed due to higher costs associated with timing of agriculture or forest management harvests, the difficulty of harvesting remote and non-commercial cellulose and the high costs and heavy weights associated with transportation of bio fuel resource. However the most important fact for the failure of any Renewable Energy grid quality generator is the low kWh power purchase agreements tendered by the delivering cooperative or utility company. The EFS Eagar model has been developed to substantiate that large numbers of small, community-owned and managed value-added bio products manufacturing plants, biofuels feedstock and refineries and small “cookie-cutter” bioenergy facilities sized and managed under the 50 mile resource radius is a viable forest and woodland management tool, a valuable program for sustainable business platforms and an important generator of products and services. Under state mandated utility offset-portfolios or local micro-grids and tax credits the community cooperatives can save 24,206,000,000 barrels of imported or increasingly scarce American oil. By harvesting and employing 10 percent of the waste cellulose crop (not logging or lumbering of mature trees) in the National Forests. The Eagar model is perpetually sustainable. Additional oil and greenhouse gas savings can be realized under the Eagar model to use cellulose wastes from forests and woodlands under management of the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, State, County and Private Ownership. The Eagar model also plans resource assessment and bio implementation with new dry-region agriculture fuel crops, citrus thinning, fiber and food crop residue, animal, manufacturing, land-fill, construction and community yard wastes. The new jobs in each rural community will include forestry, manufacturing, agriculture, waste stream remediation, training and education, electricity generation, banking, transportation and cooperative bundling for products and services for the SEMFAC communities. About the Author: Robert G. Hennkens, is an experienced executive with international and domestic credentials in project development, Renewable Energy, waste stream remediation, finance and marketing. He has owned his own company since 1976, working in the disciplines of education, licensing, publishing, consulting and business platform development. He currently serves as executive director of the Barry M. Goldwater Center for Renewable Technologies, director of the Environmental Industries Technologies Cluster, director of the Prescott Economic Development Authority and as a national advisor to the Environmental Economic Communities Organization and the Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer. He can be contacted at newfrontier@earthlink.net © 2003 Robert G. Hennkens

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