Farmers Participate in Rural Champions of Change

Last week leaders from rural communities met with President Obama along with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, as well as the president’s Domestic Policy Adviser Melody Barnes as part of the White House Rural Champions of Change roundtable. One of the attendees was Eric Rund a farmer from Pesotum, Illinois. He is also the CEO of Green Flame Energy. He was one of 18 people from 16 different states who were invited to share their ideas on how the country can improve the quality of life in rural communities and promote economic growth.

“I was honored to be selected for the Council and have the opportunity to share with national policy makers what biomass production can do for farmers, rural communities, job creation and energy independence,” said Rund. “I invited the President to visit my farm to see first-hand what we’re doing to create change.”

Rund has been an early adopter when it comes to biomass research. He is actively developing biomass markets and has been working with local home owners, community school districts and businesses to educate them on how they can utilize biomass energy produced by local farmers.

The meeting Rund attended was just one in a series of meetings being held in DC this summer as part of the White House Rural Council and the White House Business Council to improve economic conditions and create jobs in rural communities. Champions of Change recognizes Americans who are accomplishing great achievements in their communities to out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the rest of the world.

First Zero-Waste Biochemical Refinery In Production

The country’s first zero-waste biochemical refinery is now up and running in Missoula, Montana. The facility is owned and operated by Blue Marble Biomaterials and uses a combination of clean technologies to produce specialty biochemicals that can be used in the food, cosmetics and personal care markets. Each year the biorefinery will produce 72 tons of biochemicals, and its only “waste” is purified water and pellet fuel for wood boilers.

“This biorefinery is an excellent example of how the U.S. can ensure global leadership in advanced manufacturing: we have developed cutting edge technology which combine the fields of biology, chemistry, and industrial manufacturing to produce petroleum replacing chemicals,” said Blue Marble CEO Kelly Ogilvie. “These products will reinvigorate the meaning of Made in America: more lean, more clean and sourced from our abundant renewable natural resources.”

Last week, President Obama announced intentions to invest $500 million in U.S.-based advanced manufacturing technologies via an Advanced Manufacturing Program. The Blue Marble co-founders, Ogilvie and James Stephens, served on the council that worked with the president in forming the program.

The system uses a range of plant feedstocks to produce the biochemicals. The facility uses a photo-bioreactor containing algae to purify wastewater and waste gas from the fermentation system. In addition, the solid waste generated during the production process is pelletized for use in wood-burning furnaces and stoves. In the future, the company intends to power its facility with the waste gas and pellets created during the process in onsite gasifiers.

“Natural systems are the inspiration for our processes. Just as in nature, we see waste as nutritional; in this case, wastewater, waste gas and waste solids are industrial nutrients for both our system and the surrounding economy,” added Stephens. “We believe this principal is key to reducing not only environmental impact but also operational cost.”

Ag-Waste-to-Energy Technology Licensed by HB Energy

Homeland Biogas Energy (HB Energy) has announced they have signed an exclusive licensing agreement with Achor Anaerobic LLC to use their “achorlytic” enzyme and digestion-inoculating technology to increase the productivity of its anaerobic digestion projects. HB Energy is a division of Homeland Renewable Energy (HRE), a company focused on producing energy from agricultural waste and they will also work with Achor to license the technology to third parties.

“With the benefit of Achor’s technology and our project design, construction and operating skills, we are well placed to develop our pipeline of new large-scale AD plants, serving our customers in livestock farming and food processing,” said Rupert Fraser, Chief Executive Officer of HRE. “Achor’s technology will enable us to build larger scale anaerobic digestion plants with more competitive economics, so that we can produce truly renewable energy while removing waste problems for farmers and food companies.”

The enzymes increase biogas production from digestible materials including animal and food wastes. The two companies are currently in the process of testing the enzyme at HB Energy’s facility in Wisconsin and preliminary indications are that the improvements are significant. HB Energy uses the ag waste to produce energy including biogas or electricity. To date, they have more than 15 large scale development projects in the works ranging from 3 MW to 20 MW.

Chris Barry, cofounder of Achor and originator of the achorlytic approach to accelerating and enhancing anaerobic digestion, added “Achor Anaerobic is delighted to be working in partnership with HB Energy. The business, engineering and planning base provided by HB Energy provides the perfect platform for the exploitation and expansion of our technology. We aim to make HB Energy the most advanced and profitable AD company in the US and beyond through enabling them to get the very best from the feedstocks available. We will work with them on innovative design and development that will be ‘game-changing’ in the field of anaerobic digestion and bioenergy.”

New Energy & Commodities Investment Team Formed

Cary Street Partners has formed a new Energy & Commodities Investment banking team focused on energy and its related sectors including traditional and alternative energy as well as agriculture services. Joining the new group is Craig Shealy who was formerly the founder of Osage Bio Energy, currently up for sale. Shealy will serve as managing director and group head.

“We are delighted Craig has joined Cary Street Partners and will be leading our Energy and Commodities team,” said Mark Gambill, chairman. “Over the past decade we have experienced a growing demand for investment banking services from our energy clients. Craig’s hire is yet another step in the on-going expansion of Cary Street Partners’ investment banking business. We welcome his deep industry knowledge, extensive client relationships and successful track record. His breadth of experience, including most recently as the founder of Osage Bio Energy, will provide a unique perspective in serving the needs of our energy industry clients.”

Shealy will begin growing the groups’ portfolio in the ethanol, biodiesel and biomass industries and he says there is enormous opportunities for consolidation in the ethanol and biodiesel markets. He also notes that there is growth capital available for innovative and viable development projects and he believes Cary Street Partners will provide an excellent platform to serve companies in the energy and ag sectors.

“I am extremely excited about helping meet clients’ needs for capital and strategic advice as the energy and commodity-based industries continue to grow and entities seek out consolidation and liquidity opportunities,” added Shealy.

NASCAR Driver Kenny Wallace to Keynote Southeast Bioenergy Conference

NASCAR Series Driver Kenny Wallace and co-host of the shows Race Day and Victory Lane, will be giving the keynote address during the 2011 Southeast Bioenergy Conference on August 9-11 in Tifton, Georgia. Wallace drives the No. 9 American Ethanol Toyota Camrey and is currently ranked 7th in the Series. Last week, Wallace completed his 500th Nationwide start bringing his career stats to nine wins, 10 poles, and nine seasons in the top 10 driver points. He has also won the Nationwide Series Most Popular Driver award three times.

NASCAR announced earlier this year it would race using Sunoco Green E15, a blend of 15 percent ethanol. To learn more about the fuel and the people who grow the crops and produce American ethanol, Wallace has spent time at ethanol plants and on farms.

Wallace will kick off the conference on Monday, August 9th at 8:30 am followed by a general session focusing on Global Markets for Biofuels and Bioproducts. Other sessions include Southeast Forestry’s Bioenergy Potential, Promising Energy Crops For the Southeast, Innovative Approaches to Ethanol Production, E85, E15 – Creating a Biofuel Infrastructure System, Efficiencies From Combined Heat and Power, Energy From Waste, and more. Mike McAdams, Executive Director of the Advanced Biofuels Association will also be giving a presentation on Building Cooperation and Coalitions.

The conference boasts a wide-range of speakers including Professor Li, Tsinghua University; Christianne Egger, Upper Austrian Renewable Energy Agency; Hagan Rose, Eco Energy; Phillip Jennings, Repreve Renewables, and more.

Registration is now open. Click here to learn more about the conference and to register.

FAO Studies Pros & Cons of Bioenergy

FAO has released a new report that contains methodology designed to aid policymakers assess the pros and cons of investing in the bioenergy industry. The “Bioenergy and Food Security (BEFS) Analytical Framework” was written to help governments evaluate the potential of bioenergy as well as assess its possible food security impacts. The framework was developed over a three-year time frame and cites development and field tests that took place in Peru, Tanzania and Thailand.

The report is comprised of a series of step-by-step evaluations that seek to answer critical questions regarding the feasibility of bioenergy development and the impacts on food availability and household food security. In addition, social and environmental dimensions are also considered. The paper also serves as a platform for bringing key ministries and institutions together so they can work on the same page.

“Our goal is to help policy-makers take informed decisions regarding whether bioenergy development is a viable option and, if so, identify policies that will maximize benefits and minimize risks,” explains Heiner Thofern, who heads FAO’s Bioenergy and Food Security (BEFS) project.

The drive to biofuels have been driven by both worries over greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels as well as high oil prices and energy security concerns. FAO believes that one important benefit of investments into the bioenergy sector is that it could spark much-needed investment in agricultural and transport infrastructure in rural areas. This would create jobs and boost household income. These benefits could lesson both poverty and food security concerns. FAO has also conducted separate studies that show small-scale bioenergy projects not designed for export markets can improve food security and help boost rural economies.

“FAO has been saying for years that under-investment in agriculture is a problem that seriously handicaps food production in the developing world, and that this, coupled with rural poverty, is a key driver of world hunger,” says Thofern. “Done properly and when appropriate, bioenergy development offers a chance to drive investment and jobs into areas that are literally starving for them.”

Yet while there are major potential benefits to bioenergy production, FAO warns there are also potential negatives. They write that large-scale biofuel production could come at the expense of food production, leading to less food available, and higher food prices. In addition, deforestation is also a concern. Therefore, potential risks and benefits need to be weighed.

Biomass Industry Execs Discuss Future

biomass conferenceAll energy of the bio variety – biomass, biogas, biodiesel and biofuels – were represented at the 4th International Biomass Conference and Expo on Monday during a panel featuring executives of seven different industry organizations.

Moderator Tom Bryan, Vice President of BBI International, asked the panel was what the top priorities for their organizations are this year.

“Just getting parity for algae,” said Algal Biomass Organization Executive Director Mary Rosenthal. She says they are also working on educating lawmakers about algae and keeping the funding they currently have for development from departments of energy, agriculture and defense.

Charlie Niebling with the Biomass Thermal Energy Council said they would like to see thermal incorporated into a true federal Clean Energy Standard. “We still face real challenges in just making sure people understand the role that thermal plays in addressing energy challenges in our country,” he said.

Biomass Power Association CEO Robert Cleaves says they support the development of a federal Clean Energy Standard as well and they want to retain the USDA Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP). “BCAP for existing facilities may be the only game in town as a bridge to somewhere,” he said.

Inclusion and parity are also important for biogas, as well as working on a fundamental change in waste management. “Discontinuing policies that simply take all this organic matter, put it in a hole in the ground and create environmental issues. Instead we need to create policies to divert that to higher, better and multiple uses.” said Norma McDonald of the American Biogas Council.

For members of the Renewable Fuels Association, president Bob Dinneen says what is most important is education and certainty. “We’re looking at a situation where our tax incentive expires the end of this year,” Dinneen said. “What we’re trying to do is get to some reform of the existing incentive that reflects the fact that the industry has indeed grown, that will allow the industry to continue to grow and evolve, but do so in response to fiscal realities in Washington DC now.”

“The biodiesel industry is an example of what can happen when you have total policy failures in Washington DC,” said Joe Jobe with the National Biodiesel Board, referring to the non-renewal of the biodiesel tax for a year that caused many plants to shut down. Jobe says the industry is going strong again and plants are re-opening but they would like to see the tax credit extended again at the end of this year. “We just need a little more time to get a little more mature.”

Finally, Advanced Biofuels Association president Michael McAdams stressed the importance of keeping the Renewable Fuels Standard in place. “The RFS2 is the single most important public policy in the United States for first, second and third generations biofuels,” he said.

Listen the panel talk about priorities here: Biomass Conference Panel

Loss of DOE Loan Gurantee Program “Would Be A Tragedy”

There is a lot of action in the “Beltway” these days surrounding biofuels. One such conversation is around the fate of the Department of Energy (DOE) Loan Guarantee Program. A group of policy makers want to end the program, which right now is funded with Reinvestment and Recovery monies. However, energy companies, such as Pleasanton, California-based Fulcrum Bioenergy, would be dead in the water. CEO Jim Macias said if this program ends “it would be a tragedy.” Not only for his company, but for the entire alternative energy industry as a whole.

Fulcrum Bioenergy is in the process of building a waste-to-ethanol plant just outside of Reno, Nevada using ordinary household garbage and converting it to ethanol, electricity and biochemicals. The plant is fully permitted, engineered and equity financed and the company is in the final stages of documentation to close on a DOE Loan Guarantee that is the final piece for their financing. Once that piece is in place, Fulcrum will start construction and begin producing renewable ethanol at the end of 2012. It is important to note that Fulcrum has been working on the DOE loan for more than 2 years.

When the first plant in Reno is complete, it will produce 10 million gallons of ethanol per year and 16 megawatts of electricity. From there, Fulcrum plans to roll out 20 more sites, already selected, and Macias said the feedstock contracts are already in place. When these 20 sites are in production, they will produce 1 billion gallons of ethanol per year from garbage.

Yet if the DOE Loan Guarantee program gets axed not only would his project die, but any project that has been awarded DOE Loan Guarantees since 2009 would lose their funding.

“It’s very challenging for first-of-a-kind commercial plants to to get fully funded in normal economic times, and federal support for new technologies like this, loan guarantees play a very valuable role in closing the funding gap. We’ve raised all the equity capital to construct it including coverage for potential overruns, and the DOE loan guarantee provides a very important step to help these emerging technologies.”

Macias said its important for emerging technologies to receive government support during good economic times, but even more critical now due to the lack of capital fund and bank credit caused by the ongoing recession. He stressed that the loan guarantee program has played a critical role in helping these technologies that are ready for commercial demonstration to get there.

Macias concluded that if the DOE Loan Guarantee Program is rescinded, it would set back the industry. He also said it would be “devastating to breaking our [America's] dependence on imported oil and reducing the price of oil.”

You can listen to my full interview with Fulcrum Bioenergy CEO, Jim Macias here: Jim Macias Discusses DOE Loan Guarantee Program

CHOREN Makes Progess on Biofuel Plant

Rainer Bomba, Undersecretary of State in the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development, visited CHOREN’s Beta plant at Freiberg in the German state of Saxony. His purpose of the visit was to discuss the progress of CHOREN on producing sustainable advanced biofuels and their role in achieving climate protection targets.

“Last year, the Beta plant completed several campaigns of synthesis gas trial production, successfully producing from wood a synthesis gas that is free of tar and aromatics on an industrial scale,” said CHOREN’s CEO Marcell Ulrichs.

Bomba said of his visit, “Industrial-scale BTL production may turn into a milestone in the future use of bioenergy. Therefore I very much hope that the development work of recent years will be rewarded and that the plant will run smoothly. We are planning to make greater use of renewable energies in the transportation sector, too. That includes biofuels – and BTL has particularly high potential in this respect, because far more biological material can be used than is currently the case.”

CHOREN said that there are several benefits of their biosynthetic fuel including significant CO2 reduction, no competition with food production and excellent compatibility with existing drive systems. The Beta plant in Freiberg has an annual capacity of 18 million litres of BTL (biomass to liquid) fuel. CHOREN said they are very active in various projects around the world to construct more BTL plants due to the need for sustainable biofuels.

Professor Dr. Jürgen Leohold, Head of Group Research at Volkswagen AG and a member of the CHOREN supervisory board, added, “BTL is a key technology in reducing greenhouse gas emissions sustainably in the transportation sector.”

Renewables In and Out of Obama Budget

There are renewable winners and losers in the FY2012 budget proposed this week by President Obama.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the president has included funding in the budget “To promote the domestic production of renewable energy, we invest in renewable energy programs related to commercialization; research and development; education and outreach; and energy efficiency and conservation. We are also focusing our loans to rural electric cooperatives to support the development of clean burning low emission fossil fuel facilities and renewable energy deployment. Developing a nation-wide renewable energy industry will create hundreds of thousands of jobs in rural America, while helping us reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and reducing risks to our environment.”

More specifically, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu says the budget includes $3.2 billion for energy efficiency and renewable energy programs and $300 million in credit subsidies to support approximately $3-4 billion in renewable energy and energy efficient projects. Funding for renewable energy technology would increase over all by 70 percent, including $425 million to support the “SunShot” solar power initiative, $64 million for offshore wind farms, $59 million for geothermal power initiatives.

However, hydrogen energy and fuel cell research would be cut by about 40 percent, a move that the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Energy Association (FCHEA) calls those cuts “misguided and harmful to American competitiveness.”

“After investing billions of American dollars and years of effort, we simply cannot walk away from our commitment to these critical technologies,” said Ruth Cox, president and executive director of the FCHEA. “Fuel cells are the microprocessors of the Energy Age and they are already transforming the energy network through distributed generation of clean, efficient and reliable power.”

In the good news category, Big Oil takes a big hit in the budget, eliminating some $3.6 billion in tax subsidies for the oil, coal and gas industries.

Florida Advanced Biofuels Plant Breaks Ground

A new commercial scale advance biofuels plant broke ground today in Vero Beach, Florida.

The $130 million plant is being developed by INEOS New Planet BioEnergy (INPB), a joint venture between INEOS Bio and New Planet Energy. The Indian River BioEnergy Center in Vero Beach, Florida, will convert yard, vegetative and household wastes into cellulosic ethanol and renewable power for the local community.

“We are excited to celebrate this important milestone, which moves advanced biofuels a step closer to achieving significant scale, enabling the U.S. to achieve a leading position in the bioenergy sector,” said Peter Williams, Chairman of INPB and CEO of INEOS Bio. “As part of our goal of advancing the biofuels industry, educating people about the benefits of this technology and creating demand for advanced biofuels, we will continue to license this world-changing technology to partners across the U.S. and beyond, bringing secure, renewable fuel and power to communities worldwide.”

When production starts in mid-2012, the Indian River BioEnergy Center will produce eight million gallons of bioethanol and six megawatts (gross) of renewable power, of which approximately two megawatts will be exported to the local community. This renewable electricity will be able to power approximately 1,400 homes. Located at a former citrus processing plant site in Vero Beach, Florida, the BioEnergy Center will provide 380 direct and indirect jobs (including 175 construction jobs) over the next two years and 50 full-time jobs in Indian River County where, current unemployment is at 13.6 percent, the 23rd highest metro area in the nation.

Part 1: An Overview of Waste-to-Energy

Earlier this week, I announced that I was kicking off a series on waste-to-energy and many people have already expressed comments and feedback on the subject. It is probably no coincidence that the hot button was the term incineration, aka combustion or burn. No one can see this term and not think pollution. While incinerators are still in use today, and will be the focus of Part 1 of this series, there are many new cutting edge waste-to-energy technologies that don’t use incineration and as the series progresses, we’ll be discussing these technologies.

One of the first people I spoke with was Ted Michaels with the Energy Recovery Council based in Washington DC. The first question I asked him was how has the technology developed from the 1970s until now? Michaels began by explaining that the commercial waste-to-energy industry has existed since 1975 and today there are 86 waste-to-energy (WTE) facilities in 24 states that turn trash into energy through combustion.

The biggest differentiation of WTE facilities today, versus the WTE facilities of yesteryear, according to Michaels, are their ability to capture the energy and their utilization of emission control equipment. “America’s waste-to-energy facilities meet some of the most stringent environmental standards in the world and employ the most advanced emissions control equipment available,” said Michaels. “In fact, the US Environmental Protection Agency concluded in 2003 that America’s waste-to-energy plants have demonstrated “dramatic decreases” in air emissions, and produce electricity “with less environmental impact than almost any other source of electricity.”

According to Michaels, WTE achieves the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) through three separate mechanisms: 1) by generating electrical power or steam, waste-to-energy avoids carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil fuel based electrical generation; 2) the waste-to-energy combustion process effectively avoids all potential methane emissions from landfills thereby avoiding any potential release of methane in the future; and 3) the recovery of ferrous and nonferrous metals from MSW by waste-to-energy is more energy efficient than production from raw materials.

Michaels explains that these three mechanisms provide a true accounting of the greenhouse gas emission reduction potential of waste-to-energy. “A lifecycle analysis, such as the EPA Municipal Solid Waste Decision Support Tool, is the most accurate method for understanding and quantifying the complete accounting of any MSW management option,” explained Michaels. Continue reading

Waste Management Developing Organics Facility in Florida

Waste Management is developing a new organics facility in Okeechobee, Florida. The facility, which will sit on eight acres, will process yard, food and clean wood waste to produce soil amendments as well as bagged lawn and garden products that may be sold back to the public as an alternative to chemical fertilizers. The facility will be sited adjacent to Waste Management’s existing Okeechobee Landfill operation and will be the company’s first attempt at a dedicated composting site and should be operational by spring of 2011.

“We want to extract the highest value possible from the materials we manage. Recycling organics through composting and other technologies that may produce energy, transportation fuels or specialty chemicals enables us to generate more value from this specific material stream,” said Tim Hawkins, market area vice president for Waste Management. “With this facility, we will be able to offer southern Florida customers dedicated organics processing capability as well as generate beneficially useful products such as nutrient-rich organic compost that can close the loop with local homes and businesses in South Florida.”

Recycling is becoming more and more important in waste management and companies are looking for creative and cost effective ways to reduce waste and lessen environmental impact. Waste Management (WM) is looking at organics recycling as one possible solution to both waste management but also as a new revenue stream. To accelerate their pathway into the marketplace, WM acquired a major equity interest in Garick LLC, a manufacturer, marketer and distributor of organic lawn and garden products. In addition, the company has invested in technologies to convert waste into transportation fuels, petrochemicals and chemicals.

According to WM, North America generates over 80 million tons of organic waste each year. In the United States, approximately a third of municipal solid waste is organic, including food, yard and wood waste. Approximately 65 percent of yard waste and 2.5 percent of food waste collected in the United States is currently diverted from disposal.

USDA Awards Grants for Sustainable Bioenergy Education

USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced two grants that will create educational opportunities in math and science for students interested in bioenergy and bio-based products.

NIFA awarded Corinne Rutzke at Cornell University $4,999,940 to provide teachers from grades 8 through the undergraduate level with a strong footing in multi-disciplinary content and research-based training materials and activities linked to the Northeast’s projected feedstock systems. Information will be shared to help teachers prepare students for the various career options available in the bioenergy and bio-based products field. Rutzke will partner with researchers at the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore, Delaware State University, Pace Law School and Ohio State University.

Richard Amasino from the University of Wisconsin received $4,671,847 from NIFA to strengthen the regional K-16 education system, especially at underserved schools, by supporting teacher learning in matter, energy and ecosystem concepts. The project will also create opportunities for students to lead their own bio-energy research, focusing on a range of topics from sustainability to the chemistry of carbon cycles. Partner schools include College of the Menominee Nation and Michigan State University.

Both projects are funded for five years through NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI). AFRI’s sustainable bioenergy challenge area funds grants targeting the development of regional systems for the sustainable production of bioenergy and bio-based products that contribute significantly to reducing dependence on foreign oil, have net positive social, environmental and rural economic impacts and are compatible with existing agricultural systems.

An In-depth Look At Waste’s Role in Energy

A few months ago, I did a review of the book, The Story of Stuff. While the book was good, I was alarmed at the author Annie Leonard’s, unflattering views of waste-to-energy. For decades, municipal waste companies have been burning their trash. Known as incineration, Leonard says that this causes a multitude of problems, the first being burning pollutes and spews toxins into the air.

She writes, “Waste-to-Energy Plants Should Be Called Waste of Energy…But here’s the deal: first off, the little bit of energy recovered from burning trash is a very dirty energy, releasing far more greenhouse gases than burning natural gas, oil, or even coal. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, waste incinerators produce 1,355 grams of CO2 per kilowatt hour; coal produces 1,020, oil 758, and natural gas 515.”

Leonard continues, “Second, let’s step back and look at the grand scheme of things for a moment. When you bum something, the most energy you can recover is a fraction of the energy value (the “calories”) of the actual material; you can’t recover any of the energy investments of that thing’s entire lifecycle….If the ultimate goal is to conserve energy, we could “produce” far more energy by reusing and recycling Stuff than we ever could by burning it.”

So in a nutshell, waste-to-energy pollutes, it has a negative net energy, it doesn’t create jobs, they don’t eliminate the need for landfills and they are not economically feasible to name a few reasons to not like the energy source. You’ll also note that for the most part, these are the very same reasons (minus the waste-to-energy reduces pollution) opponents support waste-to-energy.

So who is right and why should we care? Well I was bothered knowing that millions and millions of people have visited her website and watched her videos and they may be getting outdated information. So I’m taking action.

In just a few weeks, the Municipal Solid Waste to Biofuels Summit is taking place in Chicago. On February 10-11, 2011, hundreds of people will be coming to together to discuss the up and coming waste-to-energy technologies. Leading up to this conference, I’m kicking off a 7-part series, “An In-depth Look at Waste’s Role in Energy Development.”

This series will explore the developments of waste-to-energy from the 70s or so until now. It will delve more deeply into Leonard’s claim that waste-to-energy plants actually produce more greenhouse gases than coal, oil and natural gas, It will discuss the opportunities and challenges in the industry, and it will feature various companies’ technologies who are excited for the opportunity to “clean” up the misconceptions surrounding waste-to-energy.