Bioenergy and the Dairy Sector

California is the largest dairy state in the United States, providing a large share of the country’s milk and dairy products.  Unfortunately, dairies are also California’s largest source of methane emissions, a climate super pollutant.  Dairy manure can, however, be converted to carbon negative energy, eliminating methane emissions and providing negative carbon emissions instead.   According to the California Air Resources Board, investments in dairy digesters, which convert dairy waste to energy,  are the most effective and the most cost-effective of all of the state’s investments in carbon reductions.

California’s dairy cows produce enough waste to generate 550 megawatts of renewable electricity or more than 100 million gallons per year of carbon negative transportation fuels. Biomethane generated from dairy waste is the lowest carbon fuel of any in existence, more than 500 percent lower greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline or diesel.  Dairy waste can also be used to generate flexible generation renewable power, which is critical to complement wind and solar power because it’s available 24/7 and can be stored and used as needed.  In addition to cutting methane emissions and producing renewable energy, converting dairy waste to energy reduces air and water pollution from dairies, cuts odors, and can provide revenue and onsite energy supplies to dairy farms.

To learn more, see Bioenergy and Dairies

Bioenergy Critical to Climate

Bioenergy is critical to slow global warming right away and to reach carbon neutrality by mid-century.  That’s because bioenergy can reduce the most damaging climate pollutants known as Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (SLCPs).  Climate scientists agree that we have less than a decade left to avert catastrophic – and largely irreversible – climate change.  The most effective tool we have – the last lever we have left – is to reduce SLCP emissions.  And bioenergy can do that more effectively than other tools because it cuts methane and black carbon emissions – two of the most damaging SLCPs – from organic waste, including landfills and dairies, agricultural waste, and forest waste or other vegetation removed to reduce wildfire risks.  Bioenergy can also provide carbon negative emissions needed to reach carbon neutrality by mid-century.  And, according to the California Air Resources Board, it provides the most cost-effective of all carbon emissions.

Read more about Bioenergy and Climate

National Academy of Sciences Paper Underscores Need for Bioenergy

Some energy advocates and environmental groups have been claiming that the U.S. can meet all its energy needs with solar, wind and energy storage. The National Academy of Sciences has released a paper that criticizes that view as likely to be dangerously expensive if achievable at all. The NAS paper strongly recommends the inclusion of bioenergy in a low carbon portfolio to provide power that is easily dispatchable (available when needed) and that can be carbon negative.

Download the 6-page paper by the National Academy of Sciences:  NAS – Need for diverse portfolio to decarbonize

Presentation to the Forest Landowners of California (May2016)

Julia Levin’s presentation on the role of bioenergy in helping to reduce wildfire and restore more resilient forests.

JLevin – Forest Landowners Ass’n (5.6.16)

GNA Releases Report on Ultra Low Emission Trucks

Gladstein Neandross & Associates recently released GameChanger, a groundbreaking report on the potential for ultra-low emission vehicles running on biogas to cut greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution.  Heavy duty trucks using an ultra-low NOx engine that runs on renewable gas can cut toxic air contaminants and particulate matter by more than 90 percent.  When fueled with biogas from dairy waste or food waste that would otherwise have been landfilled, the trucks can cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than 100 percent compared to diesel powered trucks.

To read more, download GameChanger_FullReport

E3 Releases Study on Decarbonizing Pipeline Gas

Energy and Environmental Economics (E3) released a study on Decarbonizing Pipeline Gas to Help Meet California’s 2050 Greenhouse Gas Reduction Goal.  The study found the costs of decarbonized gas and electrification to be similar, but the flexibility and operational benefits of decarbonized gas to be beneficial, particularly in some sectors.

The study’s main conclusions are:

  • Decarbonized pipeline gas can help to reduce emissions in sectors that are otherwise difficult to electrify, either for technical or customer-acceptance reasons. These sectors include: (1) certain industrial end uses, such as process heating, (2) heavy duty vehicles (HDVs), and (3) certain residential and commercial end uses, such as cooking, and existing space and water heating.
  • The production of decarbonized gas from electricity could play an important role in integrating variable renewable generation by producing gas when renewables are generating power, and then storing the gas in the pipeline distribution network for when it is needed.
  • A transition to decarbonized pipeline gas would enable continued use of the state’s existing gas pipeline distribution network, eliminating the need for new energy delivery infrastructure to meet 2050 GHG targets, such as dedicated hydrogen pipelines or additional electric transmission and distribution capacity.
  • Pursuit of decarbonized gas technologies would help diversify the technology risk associated with heavy reliance on a limited number of decarbonized energy carriers, and would allow consumers, businesses and policymakers greater flexibility and choice in the transition to a low-carbon energy system.

To learn more, download E3_Decarbonizing_Pipeline_01-27-2015

State of the Sierra Nevada’s Forests

The Sierra Nevada Conservancy, a California state agency, issued this important report on the State of the Sierra Nevada’s Forests, finding that “urgent action is needed in the Sierra Nevada to avoid devastating impacts on California’s environment and economy.”  The report recommends increased forest biomass to energy generation to reduce catastrophic wildfires and air pollution.

To learn more, download StateOfSierraForestsRptWeb