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Renewable Energy

The Future is "Carbon Free Energy" and
"Pollution Free Power" - according to the
Renewable Energy Institute

The Renewable Energy Institute has determined "carbon free energy" and "pollution free power" are the best possible solutions for the many economic, environmental and political/geo-political and societal problems caused by fossil fuels. 

The Renewable Energy Institute is made up of the brightest minds, professors, climatologists, engineers, politicians and universities.  Their "crystal ball" sees "renewable energy" and "renewable energy technologies" as the best path forward for providing the energy the world needs. And it's no longer any energy that will do - the future is for energy that is clean, sustainable, renewable, and "Carbon Free Energy" and "Pollution Free Power."

According to Mont Goodell, Founder, Chairman and President of the Renewable Energy Institute, now headquartered at Texas Tech University, " We must  become less dependent on unstable, foreign oil and energy supplies and reduce our 'addiction' to fossil fuels so that we can become energy independent - so that we will not be held hostage by counties with large supplies of fossil fuels such as Iran, Venezuela or Russia, countries that we cannot rely on as our allies or friends."

Continuing, Mr. Goodell adds, "Since energy and power are the lifeblood of our economy - and we need to 'transition' away from the use of all fossil fuels, and ultimately discontinue the use of fossil fuels so that we can stop and reverse the pollution from Carbon Dioxide Emissions and Greenhouse Gas Emissions. So, this begs the question, ' how do we provide for the energy and power that we need that keeps our economy healthy'? The answer and the future is quite simply, 'renewable energy and renewable energy technologies.'"

Renewable energy includes; B100 Biodiesel, Biomass / Biomass Gasification, Biomethane, E100 Ethanol, Geothermal, Solar, Waste to Energy (including Waste to Fuel and Waste to Watts) and Wind.  These renewable energy technologies produce "carbon free energy" and "pollution free power."  This will reverse the problems caused by fossil fuels which include global warming and climate change.  Renewable energy technologies will improve our country's energy security, economy and reduce the trade deficit.

We develop renewable energy projects that include utility scale wind farms, community wind farms, biodiesel plants, B100 Biodiesel fueled power plants, and concentrated solar power plants. 

Renewable Energy Technologies is solely focused on "renewable energy" project development services that generate a Renewable Energy Credit for our investors and provides clean, "carbon free energy" and "pollution free power" that significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and carbon dioxide emissions.

All of our renewable energy projects are Kyoto Protocol compliant.

Renewable energy technologies, sustainable energy and energy efficiency are critical and absolutely vital if we are going to create a clean energy future - not just here in the U.S., but the world. Pollution knows no boundaries. Developing countries need clean and sustainable energy technologies as pollution from dirty power plants doesn't stop at the border.  

Our company acquires and develops renewable energy projects and raises investment capital for renewable energy and power projects that qualify for our investor's funding.   Our investors include angel and institutional investors.  We also offer Private Placement Memorandums and Regulation D Offerings - that includes accounting, legal and financial management services for qualified clients and renewable energy projects. 

Cooler, Cleaner, Greener Power & Energy Solutions  project development services are one of our specialties. These projects are Kyoto Protocol compliant and generate clean energy and significantly fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Unlike most companies, we are equipment supplier/vendor neutral. This means we help our clients select the best equipment for their specific application. This approach provides our customers with superior performance, decreased operating expenses and increased return on investment. 

We have pioneered the concept of "cooler, cleaner, greener power and energy solutions" and refer to these projects as "ecogeneration" plants.  Our products and services include; renewable energy technologies, waste to energy, waste to watts and waste heat recovery solutions.  Other project development technologies include; Anaerobic Digester, Anaerobic Lagoon, Biogas Recovery, Biofuels Plants, BioMethane, Biomass Gasification, Landfill Gas To Energy, and Solar Energy Systems project development services. 

Products and services provided by our company includes the following power and energy project development services: 

  • Project Engineering Feasibility & Economic Analysis Studies  

  • Engineering, Procurement and Construction

  • Environmental Engineering & Permitting 

  • Project Funding & Financing Options; including Equity Investment, Debt Financing, Lease and Municipal Lease

  • Shared/Guaranteed Savings Program with No Capital Investment from Qualified Clients 

  • Project Commissioning 

  • 3rd Party Ownership and Project Development

  • Long-term Service Agreements

  • Operations & Maintenance 

  • Green Tag (Renewable Energy Credit, Carbon Dioxide Credits, Emission Reduction Credits) Brokerage Services; Application and Permitting

For more information: call us at:  832-758-0027

We are Renewable Energy Technologies specialists and develop clean power and energy projects that will generate a "Renewable Energy Credit," Carbon Dioxide Credits  and Emission Reduction Credits.  Some of our products and services solutions and technologies include; Absorption Chillers, Adsorption Chillers, Automated Demand Response, Biodiesel Refineries, Biofuel Refineries, Biomass Gasification, BioMethane, Canola Biodiesel, Coconut Biodiesel, Cogeneration, Concentrating Solar Power, Demand Response Programs, Demand Side Management, Energy Conservation Measures, Energy Master Planning, Engine Driven Chillers, Geothermal Heatpumps, Groundsource Heatpumps, Solar CHP, Solar Cogeneration, Rapeseed Biodiesel, Solar Electric Heat Pumps, Solar Electric Power Systems, Solar Heating and Cooling, Solar Trigeneration, Soy Biodiesel, Trigeneration, and Watersource Heatpumps.

What are "Renewable Energy Technologies?"

Any technology that exclusively relies on an energy source that is naturally regenerated over a short time and derived directly from the sun, indirectly from the sun, or from moving water or other natural movements and mechanisms of the environment. A renewable energy technology does not rely on energy resources derived from fossil fuels, or waste products from inorganic sources. Renewable energy technologies include; Bioenergy (such as biomethane recovery from , landfills, animal operations and POTW's), Geothermal, Hydrogen, Hydropower, Ocean, Solar, and Wind power generation technologies. More information about these renewable energy technologies follows below beginning with the paragraph on "Bioenergy."

We provide Renewable Energy Technologies engineering and project development services. We incorporate many energy-saving technologies, products and services into our renewable energy power and energy projects that may include the use of; Absorption Chillers, Adsorption Chillers, Automated Demand Response, BioMethane, Cogeneration, Concentrating Solar Power, Demand Response Programs, Demand Side Management, Energy Master Planning, Energy Performance Contracting, Energy Savings Performance Contracting, Engine Driven Chillers, Geothermal Power Plants, Landfill gas to Energy, Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion, Quadgeneration, Solar CHP, Solar Cogeneration, Solar Trigeneration, Trigeneration and Energy Conservation Measures.

Renewable Energy Industries Unite in Push for Action 
by Energy Bill Conferees

 WASHINGTON - September 8 - The renewable energy community joined forces today in a fight to see key renewable energy provisions included in the National Energy Bill currently before the Conference Committee. In a letter to the lead Conferees, several renewable energy industry representatives urged that renewable energy measures be included in the final version of the bill."We are coming together to urge the conferees to take action and support the renewable energy provisions of the bill," stated Karl Gawell, executive director of the Geothermal Energy Association, "the U.S. faces future shortages of affordable electricity, and the incentives in this bill will help clean, renewable power fill a significant part of that gap."

Representatives from various renewable energy industries joined forces in support for these provisions, including Katherine Hamilton, co-director of the American BioEnergy Association, Randall Swisher, executive director of the American Wind Energy Association, Carol Werner, executive director of the Environmental and Energy Study Institute, Karl Gawell, executive director of the Geothermal Energy Association, Linda Church Ciocci, executive director of the National Hydropower Association, and Glenn Hamer, executive director the Solar Energy Industries Association.

"By adopting these tax and policy measures, the Conferees will help ensure that future U.S. electricity supplies will be available from a diverse, domestic, renewable resource base," the renewable energy representatives stated in a letter to the lead Conferees, "Together, these measures would represent one of the most significant legislative efforts to advance renewable energy production and use ever enacted by Congress."

The complete text of the letter follows:

Dear Chairmen Domenici and Tauzin, Ranking Members Bingaman and Dingell:

Renewable energy technologies utilize the largest untapped energy resources in the United States. Their expanded use will result in numerous benefits to millions of America's energy consumers. Expansion of renewable technologies would diversify our nation's energy supply, enhance national security, promote the use of indigenous resources, help stabilize energy prices, improve the reliability of our electricity system, greatly assist in pollution control efforts and provide an immediate stimulus for economic growth and new jobs.

The undersigned organizations are writing to you as the lead conferees on H. R. 6 to call to your attention to several provisions before the Energy Conference Committee that are essential for achieving expanded renewable energy production.

Tax Provisions

Tax incentives are essential to encourage new investment in renewable energy production. There should be no question that they are the top priority of the renewable energy industries.

We urge the Conference Committee to expand the coverage of Section 45 to include all renewable technologies and to extend the placed-in-service date for the Section 45 Production Tax Credit to at least 2007.
We also urge the Conference Committee to approve significant investment tax credits for small-scale renewable energy production.

Policy Provisions

Several important policy provisions that will encourage new renewable energy production or improve current regulatory policies will also be before the Conference Committee. Of particular importance are:

-- Net Metering and Interconnection provisions that will ensure that on-site energy producers can connect to the grid under fair terms and conditions;

-- Inclusion of a meaningful Renewable Portfolio Standard that promotes increased use of all renewable energy technologies;

-- Measures to upgrade the nation's electric transmission grid, and ensure that FERC has the authority to ensure reliable and transparent access to the grid; and,

-- Provisions that expedite or improve the leasing, permitting, licensing and processing of renewable energy projects.

By adopting these tax and policy measures, the Conferees will help ensure that future U.S. electricity supplies will be available from a diverse, domestic, renewable resource base. This will improve reliability, reduce consumer costs, improve air quality and enhance U.S. energy security.

Together, these measures would represent one of the most significant legislative efforts to advance renewable energy production and use ever enacted by Congress. We strongly encourage you do adopt these measures and we look forward to working with you and your colleagues to that end.


Katherine Hamilton, American BioEnergy Association
Randall Swisher, American Wind Energy Association
Carol Werner, Environmental and Energy Study Institute
Karl Gawell, Geothermal Energy Association
Linda Church Ciocci, National Hydropower Association
Glenn Hamer, Solar Energy Industries Association

Renewable Energy Technologies


Bioenergy technologies use renewable biomass resources to produce an array of energy related products including electricity, liquid, solid, and gaseous fuels, heat, chemicals, and other materials. Bioenergy ranks second (to hydropower) in renewable U.S. primary energy production and accounts for three percent of the primary energy production in the United States.

Biomass (organic matter) can be used to provide heat, make fuels, and generate electricity. This is called bioenergy. Wood, the largest source of bioenergy, has been used to provide heat for thousands of years. But there are many other types of biomass—such as wood, plants, residue from agriculture or forestry, and the organic component of municipal and industrial wastes—that can now be used as an energy source. Today, many bioenergy resources are replenished through the cultivation of energy crops, such as fast-growing trees and grasses, called bioenergy feedstocks. 

Unlike other renewable energy sources, biomass can be converted directly into liquid fuels for our transportation needs. The two most common biofuels are ethanol and biodiesel. Ethanol, an alcohol, is made by fermenting any biomass high in carbohydrates, like corn, through a process similar to brewing beer. It is mostly used as a fuel additive to cut down a vehicle's carbon monoxide and other smog-causing emissions. Biodiesel, an ester, is made using vegetable oils, animal fats, algae, or even recycled cooking greases. It can be used as a diesel additive to reduce vehicle emissions or in its pure form to fuel a vehicle. 

Heat can be used to chemically convert biomass into a fuel oil, which can be burned like petroleum to generate electricity. Biomass can also be burned directly to produce steam for electricity production or manufacturing processes. In a power plant, a turbine usually captures the steam, and a generator then converts it into electricity. In the lumber and paper industries, wood scraps are sometimes directly fed into boilers to produce steam for their manufacturing processes or to heat their buildings. Some coal-fired power plants use biomass as a supplementary energy source in high-efficiency boilers to significantly reduce emissions. 

Even gas can be produced from biomass for generating electricity. Biomass Gasification systems use high temperatures to convert biomass into a natural gas, or BioMethane. The gas fuels a turbine, which is very much like a jet engine, only it turns an electric generator instead of propelling a jet. The decay of biomass in landfills also produces a BioMethane gas that can be burned in a boiler to produce steam for electricity generation or for industrial processes. 

New technology could lead to using biobased chemicals and materials to make products such as anti-freeze, plastics, and personal care items that are now made from petroleum. In some cases these products may be completely biodegradable. While technology to bring biobased chemicals and materials to market is still under development, the potential benefit of these products is great. 

Biomass Resources

The term "biomass" means any plant derived organic matter available on a renewable basis, including dedicated energy crops and trees, agricultural food and feed crops, agricultural crop wastes and residues, wood wastes and residues, aquatic plants, animal wastes, municipal wastes, and other waste materials. Handling technologies, collection logistics and infrastructure are important aspects of the biomass resource supply chain. 


Biopower technologies are proven electricity generation options in the United States, with 10 gigawatts of installed capacity. All of today's capacity is based on mature direct-combustion technology. Future efficiency improvements will include co-firing of biomass in existing coal fired boilers and the introduction of high-efficiency gasification combined-cycle systems, fuel cell systems, and modular systems. 


A variety of fuels can be made from biomass resources, including the liquid fuels ethanol, methanol, biodiesel, Fischer-Tropsch diesel, and gaseous fuels such as hydrogen and methane. Biofuels research and development is composed of three main areas: producing the fuels, finding applications and uses of the fuels, and creating a distribution infrastructure. 

Bio-based Chemicals and Materials

Bio-based chemicals and materials are commercial or industrial products, other than food and feed, derived from biomass feedstocks. Bio-based products include green chemicals, renewable plastics, natural fibers, and natural structural materials. Many of these products can replace products and materials traditionally derived from petrochemicals, but new and improved processing technologies will be required. 

Integrated Bio-energy Systems and Assessments

The economic, social, environmental, and ecological consequences in growing and using biomass are important to understand and consider when addressing technological, market, and policy issues associated with bioenergy systems. 


Geothermal energy technologies use the heat of the earth for direct-use applications, geothermal heat pumps, and electrical power production. Research in all areas of geothermal development is helping to lower costs and expand its use. In the United States, most geothermal resources are concentrated in the West, but geothermal heat pumps can be used nearly anywhere.

Geothermal energy is the heat from the Earth. It's clean and sustainable. Resources of geothermal energy range from the shallow ground to hot water and hot rock found a few miles beneath the Earth's surface, and down even deeper to the extremely high temperatures of molten rock called magma. 

Almost everywhere, the shallow ground or upper 10 feet of the Earth's surface maintains a nearly constant temperature between 50° and 60°F (10° and 16°C). Geothermal heat pumps can tap into this resource to heat and cool buildings. A geothermal heat pump system consists of a heat pump, an air delivery system (ductwork), and a heat exchanger—a system of pipes buried in the shallow ground near the building. In the winter, the heat pump removes heat from the heat exchanger and pumps it into the indoor air delivery system. In the summer, the process is reversed, and the heat pump moves heat from the indoor air into the heat exchanger. The heat removed from the indoor air during the summer can also be used to provide a free source of hot water. 

In the United States, most geothermal reservoirs of hot water are located in the western states, Alaska, and Hawaii. Wells can be drilled into underground reservoirs for the generation of electricity. Some geothermal power plants use the steam from a reservoir to power a turbine/generator, while others use the hot water to boil a working fluid that vaporizes and then turns a turbine. Hot water near the surface of Earth can be used directly for heat. Direct-use applications include heating buildings, growing plants in greenhouses, drying crops, heating water at fish farms, and several industrial processes such as pasteurizing milk. 

Hot dry rock resources occur at depths of 3 to 5 miles everywhere beneath the Earth's surface and at lesser depths in certain areas. Access to these resources involves injecting cold water down one well, circulating it through hot fractured rock, and drawing off the heated water from another well. Currently, there are no commercial applications of this technology. Existing technology also does not yet allow recovery of heat directly from magma, the very deep and most powerful resource of geothermal energy. 


Geological, geochemical, and geophysical techniques are used to locate geothermal resources. 


Drilling for geothermal resources has been adapted from the oil industry. Improved drill bits, slimhole drilling, advanced instruments, and other drilling technologies are under development. 

Direct Use

Geothermal hot water near the Earth's surface can be used directly for heating buildings and as a heat supply for a variety of commercial and industrial uses. Geothermal direct use is particularly favored for greenhouses and aquaculture. 

Geothermal Heat Pumps

Geothermal heat pumps, or ground-source heat pumps, use the relatively constant temperature of soil or surface water as a heat source and sink for a heat pump, which provides heating and cooling for buildings. 

Electricity Production

Underground reservoirs of hot water or steam, heated by an upwelling of magma, can be tapped for electrical power production. 

Advanced Technologies

Advanced technologies will help manage geothermal resources for maximum power production, improve plant operating efficiencies, and develop new resources such as hot dry rock, geopressured brines, and magma. 


Geothermal technologies release little or no air emissions. Geothermal power production produces much lower air emissions than conventional energy technologies. 

Geothermal Resources

In the United States, geothermal resources are concentrated in the West, although low-temperature resources can also be found in the rest of the country. Geothermal heat pumps can be used nearly anywhere. 


Hydrogen is the third most abundant element on the earth's surface, where it is found primarily in water (H²O) and organic compounds. It is generally produced from hydrocarbons or water; and when burned as a fuel, or converted to electricity, it joins with oxygen to again form water.

Hydrogen is the simplest element; an atom consists of only one proton and one electron. It is also the most plentiful element in the universe. Despite its simplicity and abundance, hydrogen doesn't occur naturally as a gas on the Earth—it is always combined with other elements. Water, for example, is a combination of hydrogen and oxygen (H²O). Hydrogen is also found in many organic compounds, notably the "hydrocarbons" that make up many of our fuels, such as gasoline, natural gas, methanol, and propane. 

Hydrogen can be made by separating it from hydrocarbons by applying heat, a process known as "reforming" hydrogen. Currently, most hydrogen is made this way from natural gas. An electrical current can also be used to separate water into its components of oxygen and hydrogen. Some algae and bacteria, using sunlight as their energy source, even give off hydrogen under certain conditions. 

Hydrogen is high in energy, yet an engine that burns pure hydrogen produces almost no pollution. NASA has used liquid hydrogen since the 1970s to propel the space shuttle and other rockets into orbit. Hydrogen fuel cells power the shuttle's electrical systems, producing a clean byproduct—pure water, which the crew drinks. You can think of a fuel cell as a battery that is constantly replenished by adding fuel to it—it never loses its charge. 

Fuel cells are a promising technology for use as a source of heat and electricity for buildings, and as an electrical power source for electric vehicles. Although these applications would ideally run off pure hydrogen, in the near term they are likely to be fueled with natural gas, methanol, or even gasoline. Reforming these fuels to create hydrogen will allow the use of much of our current energy infrastructure—gas stations, natural gas pipelines, etc.—while fuel cells are phased in. 

In the future, hydrogen could also join electricity as an important energy carrier. An energy carrier stores, moves, and delivers energy in a usable form to consumers. Renewable energy sources, like the sun, can't produce energy all the time. The sun doesn't always shine. But hydrogen can store this energy until it is needed and can be transported to where it is needed. 

Some experts think that hydrogen will form the basic energy infrastructure that will power future societies, replacing today's natural gas, oil, coal, and electricity infrastructures. They see a new hydrogen economy to replace our current energy economies, although that vision probably won't happen until far in the future.


Hydrogen is produced from sources such as natural gas, coal, gasoline, methanol, or biomass through the application of heat; from bacteria or algae through photosynthesis; or by using electricity or sunlight to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. 

Transport and Storage

The use of hydrogen as a fuel and energy carrier will require an infrastructure for safe and cost-effective hydrogen transport and storage. 

Fuel Cells

Hydrogen's potential use in fuel and energy applications includes powering vehicles, running turbines or fuel cells to produce electricity, and generating heat and electricity for buildings. The current focus is on hydrogen's use in fuel cells. 


Hydrogen has an excellent safety record, and is as safe for transport, storage and use as many other fuels. Nevertheless, safety remains a top priority in all aspects of hydrogen energy. The hydrogen community addresses safety through stringent design and testing of storage and transport concepts, and by developing codes and standards for all types of hydrogen-related equipment. 

The Hydrogen Economy

The vision of building an energy infrastructure that uses hydrogen as an energy carrier — a concept called the "hydrogen economy" — is considered the most likely path toward a full commercial application of hydrogen energy technologies. 


Hydropower (also called hydroelectric power) facilities in the United States can generate enough power to supply 28 million households with electricity, the equivalent of nearly 500 million barrels of oil. The total U.S. hydropower capacity—including pumped storage facilities—is about 95,000 megawatts. Researchers are working on advanced turbine technologies that will not only help maximize the use of hydropower but also minimize adverse environmental effects.

Flowing water creates energy that can be captured and turned into electricity. This is called hydropower. Hydropower is currently the largest source of renewable power, generating nearly 10% of the electricity used in the United States. 

The most common type of hydropower plant uses a dam on a river to store water in a reservoir. Water released from the reservoir flows through a turbine, spinning it, which, in turn, activates a generator to produce electricity. But hydropower doesn't necessarily require a large dam. Some hydropower plants just use a small canal to channel the river water through a turbine. 

Another type of hydropower plant—called a pumped storage plant—can even store power. The power is sent from a power grid into the electric generators. The generators then spin the turbines backward, which causes the turbines to pump water from a river or lower reservoir to an upper reservoir, where the power is stored. To use the power, the water is released from the upper reservoir back down into the river or lower reservoir. This spins the turbines forward, activating the generators to produce electricity. 

Types of Hydropower

An impoundment facility, typically a large hydropower system, uses a dam to store river water in a reservoir. The water may be released either to meet changing electricity needs or to maintain a constant reservoir level. 

A diversion, sometimes called run-of-river, facility channels a portion of a river through a canal or penstock. It may not require the use of a dam. 

Pumped Storage
When the demand for electricity is low, a pumped storage facility stores energy by pumping water from a lower reservoir to an upper reservoir. During periods of high electrical demand, the water is released back to the lower reservoir to generate electricity. 

Sizes of Hydropower Plants
Facilities range in size from large power plants that supply many consumers with electricity to small and micro plants that individuals operate for their own energy needs or to sell power to utilities. 

Large Hydropower
Although definitions vary, DOE defines large hydropower as facilities that have a capacity of more than 30 megawatts. 

Small Hydropower
Although definitions vary, DOE defines small hydropower as facilities that have a capacity of 0.1 to 30 megawatts. 

Micro Hydropower
A micro hydropower plant has a capacity of up to 100 kilowatts (0.1 megawatts). 

Turbine Technologies
There are many types of turbines used for hydropower, and they are chosen based on their particular application and the height of standing water—referred to as "head"—available to drive them. The turning part of the turbine is called the runner. The most common turbines are as follows: 

Pelton Turbine
A Pelton turbine has one or more jets of water impinging on the buckets of a runner that looks like a water wheel. The Pelton turbines are used for high-head sites (50 feet to 6,000 feet) and can be as large as 200 megawatts. 

Francis Turbine
A Francis turbine has a runner with fixed vanes, usually nine or more. The water enters the turbine in a radial direction with respect to the shaft, and is discharged in an axial direction. Francis turbines will operate from 10 feet to 2,000 feet of head and can be as large as 800 megawatts. 

Propeller Turbine
A propeller has a runner with three to six fixed blades, like a boat propeller. The water passes through the runner and drives the blades. Propeller turbines can operate from 10 feet to 300 feet of head and can be as large as 100 megawatts. A Kaplan turbine is a type of propeller turbine in which the pitch of the blades can be changed to improve performance. Kaplan turbines can be as large as 400 megawatts. 

Environmental Issues and Mitigation
Current hydropower technology, while essentially emission-free, can have undesirable environmental effects, such as fish injury and mortality from passage through turbines, as well as detrimental effects on the quality of downstream water. A variety of mitigation techniques are in use now, and environmentally friendly turbines are under development. 

Legal and Institutional Issues
Legal and institutional issues include federal licensing as well as state and local permits, laws for historic and cultural preservation, and recreational requirements. 


Ocean energy draws on the energy of ocean waves, tides, or on the thermal energy (heat) stored in the ocean.

The ocean contains two types of energy: thermal energy from the sun's heat, and mechanical energy from the tides and waves. 

Oceans cover more than 70% of Earth's surface, making them the world's largest solar collectors. The sun warms the surface water a lot more than the deep ocean water, and this temperature difference stores thermal energy. Thermal energy is used for many applications, including electricity generation. There are three types of electricity conversion systems: closed-cycle, open-cycle, and hybrid. Closed-cycle systems use the ocean's warm surface water to vaporize a working fluid, which has a low-boiling point, such as ammonia. The vapor expands and turns a turbine. The turbine then activates a generator to produce electricity. Open-cycle systems actually boil the seawater by operating at low pressures. This produces steam that passes through a turbine/generator. And hybrid systems combine both closed-cycle and open-cycle systems. 

Ocean mechanical energy is quite different from ocean thermal energy. Even though the sun affects all ocean activity, tides are driven primarily by the gravitational pull of the moon, and waves are driven primarily by the winds. A barrage (dam) is typically used to convert tidal energy into electricity by forcing the water through turbines, activating a generator. For wave energy conversion, there are three basic systems: channel systems that funnel the waves into reservoirs, float systems that drive hydraulic pumps, and oscillating water column systems that use the waves to compress air within a container. The mechanical power created from these systems either directly activates a generator or transfers to a working fluid, water, or air, which then drives a turbine/generator. 

Wave Energy
The total power of waves breaking on the world's coastlines is estimated at 2 to 3 million megawatts. In favorable locations, wave energy density can average 65 megawatts per mile of coastline. 

Tidal Energy
Tidal energy traditionally involves erecting a dam across the opening to a tidal basin. The dam includes a sluice that is opened to allow the tide to flow into the basin; the sluice is then closed, and as the sea level drops, traditional hydropower technologies can be used to generate electricity from the elevated water in the basin. Some researchers are also trying to extract energy directly from tidal flow streams. 

Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) Systems
A great amount of thermal energy (heat) is stored in the world's oceans. Each day, the oceans absorb enough heat from the sun to equal the thermal energy contained in 250 billion barrels of oil. OTEC systems convert this thermal energy into electricity — often while producing desalinated water. 


Solar technologies use the sun's energy and light to provide heat, light, hot water, electricity, and even cooling, for homes, businesses, and industry. 

Sunlight—solar energy—can be used to generate electricity, provide hot water, and to heat, cool, and light buildings. 

Photovoltaic (solar cell) systems convert sunlight directly into electricity. A solar or PV cell consists of semiconducting material that absorbs the sunlight. The solar energy knocks electrons loose from their atoms, allowing the electrons to flow through the material to produce electricity. PV cells are typically combined into modules that hold about 40 cells. About 10 of these modules are mounted in PV arrays. PV arrays can be used to generate electricity for a single building or, in large numbers, for a power plant. A power plant can also use a concentrating solar power system, which uses the sun's heat to generate electricity. The sunlight is collected and focused with mirrors to create a high-intensity heat source. This heat source produces steam or mechanical power to run a generator that creates electricity. 

Solar water heating systems for buildings have two main parts: a solar collector and a storage tank. Typically, a flat-plate collector—a thin, flat, rectangular box with a transparent cover—is mounted on the roof, facing the sun. The sun heats an absorber plate in the collector, which, in turn, heats the fluid running through tubes within the collector. To move the heated fluid between the collector and the storage tank, a system either uses a pump or gravity, as water has a tendency to naturally circulate as it is heated. Systems that use fluids other than water in the collector's tubes usually heat the water by passing it through a coil of tubing in the tank. 

Many large commercial buildings can use solar collectors to provide more than just hot water. Solar process heating systems can be used to heat these buildings. A solar ventilation system can be used in cold climates to preheat air as it enters a building. And the heat from a solar collector can even be used to provide energy for cooling a building. 

A solar collector is not always needed when using sunlight to heat a building. Some buildings can be designed for passive solar heating. These buildings usually have large, south-facing windows. Materials that absorb and store the sun's heat can be built into the sunlit floors and walls. The floors and walls will then heat up during the day and slowly release heat at night—a process called direct gain. Many of the passive solar heating design features also provide daylighting. Daylighting is simply the use of natural sunlight to brighten up a building's interior.

Solar Technologies

Photovoltaics (PV)
Photovoltaic solar cells, which directly convert sunlight into electricity, are made of semiconducting materials. The simplest cells power watches and calculators and the like, while more complex systems can light houses and provide power to the electric grid. 

Passive Solar Heating, Cooling and Daylighting
Buildings designed for passive solar and daylighting incorporate design features such as large south-facing windows and building materials that absorb and slowly release the sun's heat. No mechanical means are employed in passive solar heating. Incorporating passive solar designs can reduce heating bills as much as 50 percent. Passive solar designs can also include natural ventilation for cooling. 

Concentrating Solar Power
Concentrating solar power technologies use reflective materials such as mirrors to concentrate the sun's energy. This concentrated heat energy is then converted into electricity. 

Solar Hot Water and Space Heating and Cooling
Solar hot water heaters use the sun to heat either water or a heat-transfer fluid in collectors. A typical system will reduce the need for conventional water heating by about two-thirds. High-temperature solar water heaters can provide energy-efficient hot water and hot water heat for large commercial and industrial facilities. 


Solar Resources
Solar resource information provides data on how much solar energy is available to a collector and how it might vary from month to month, year to year, and location to location. Collecting this information requires a national network of solar radiation monitoring sites. 

Solar Access
The availability or access to unobstructed sunlight for use both in passive solar designs and active systems is protected by zoning laws and ordinances in many communities. 

Green Power
Consumer demand for clean renewable energy and the deregulation of the utilities industry have spurred growth in green power—solar, wind, geothermal steam, biomass, and small-scale hydroelectric sources of power. Small commercial solar power plants have begun serving some energy markets. 


Wind energy uses the energy in the wind for practical purposes like generating electricity, charging batteries, pumping water, or grinding grain. Large, modern wind turbines operate together in wind farms to produce electricity for utilities. Small turbines are used by homeowners and remote villages to help meet energy needs.

Wind turbines capture the wind's energy with two or three propeller-like blades, which are mounted on a rotor, to generate electricity. The turbines sit high atop towers, taking advantage of the stronger and less turbulent wind at 100 feet (30 meters) or more aboveground. 

A blade acts much like an airplane wing. When the wind blows, a pocket of low-pressure air forms on the downwind side of the blade. The low-pressure air pocket then pulls the blade toward it, causing the rotor to turn. This is called lift. The force of the lift is actually much stronger than the wind's force against the front side of the blade, which is called drag. The combination of lift and drag causes the rotor to spin like a propeller, and the turning shaft spins a generator to make electricity. 

Wind turbines can be used as stand-alone applications, or they can be connected to a utility power grid or even combined with a photovoltaic (solar cell) system. Stand-alone turbines are typically used for water pumping or communications. However, homeowners and farmers in windy areas can also use turbines to generate electricity. For utility-scale sources of wind energy, a large number of turbines are usually built close together to form a wind farm. Several electricity providers today use wind farms to supply power to their customers.

Wind Energy Technologies
Modern wind turbines are divided into two major categories: horizontal axis turbines and vertical axis turbines. Old-fashioned windmills are still seen in many rural areas. 

Wind Turbine Use
Wind turbines are used around the world for many applications. Wind turbine use ranges from homeowners with single turbines to large wind farms with hundreds of turbines providing electricity to the power grid. 

Research advances have helped drop the cost of energy from the wind dramatically during the last 20 years. Research is carried out by research labs, universities, and utility organizations. 

Wind Resource
The wind is the fuel source for wind energy. The United States has many areas with abundant winds, particularly in the Midwest and Great Plains. Understanding the wind resource is a crucial step in planning a wind energy project. Detailed knowledge of the wind at a site is needed to estimate the performance of a wind energy project. 

Wind energy is considered a green power technology because it has only minor impacts on the environment. Wind energy plants produce no air pollutants or greenhouse gases. However, any means of energy production impacts the environment in some way, and wind energy is no different. 

The cost of energy from the wind has dropped by 85% during the last 20 years. Incentives like the federal production tax credit and net metering provisions available in some areas improve the economics of wind energy.

Renewable Energy Credits

What is a "Renewable Energy Credit?"

One Renewable Energy Credit or "REC" represents one megawatt hour (MWh) of renewable energy that is physically metered and verified from the generator, or the  renewable energy project. 

"REC's" are created when a Renewable Energy project is certified and begins producing renewable energy.  Renewable energy projects create green power which helps reduce pollution.  Renewable Energy Credits are the group of environmental benefits society benefits from in the production of green power.  The green-power (electricity) is sold into the local electric grid where the renewable energy project is located.  The REC's are sold separately as a commodity into the marketplace.

“In a REC deal, the power from the new renewable energy facility is not physically delivered to the customer, but the environmental benefits created by the facility are attributed to that customer, directly offsetting the environmental impact of the customer’s conventional energy use.” --Bonneville Environmental Foundation

REC Offset - An REC offset represents one megawatt hour (MWh) of renewable energy from an existing facility, which may be used in place of an REC to meet a renewable energy requirement imposed under this section. REC offsets may not be traded.

Renewable Energy Credit (REC or credit) - An REC represents one megawatt hour (MWh) of renewable energy that is physically metered and verified.

Renewable Energy Credit Account (REC account) - An account maintained by the renewable energy credits trading program administrator for the purpose of tracking the production, sale, transfer, purchase, and retirement of RECs by a program participant.

Renewable Energy Credit (trading program) - The process of awarding, trading, tracking, and submitting RECs as a means of meeting the renewable energy requirements.

Renewable Energy Resource - A resource that produces energy derived from renewable energy technologies.

Renewable Energy Technology - Any technology that exclusively relies on an energy source that is naturally regenerated over a short time and derived directly from the sun, indirectly from the sun, or from moving water or other natural movements and mechanisms of the environment. Renewable energy technologies include those that rely on energy derived directly from the sun, on wind, geothermal, hydroelectric, wave, or tidal energy, or on biomass or biomass-based waste products, including landfill gas. A renewable energy technology does not rely on energy resources derived from fossil fuels, or waste products from inorganic sources.


See important update on California Senate Bill 700 that impacts all California Animal Farming Operations

Some of the following information provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Agriculture with permission and our thanks.

What is BioMethane and BioMethanation?

BioMethane is a renewable energy/fuel, with properties similar to natural gas, produced from "biomass." Unlike natural gas, BioMethane is a renewable energy. 

The cost of producing BioMethane, after installation of the BioMass Gasification equipment used to produce BioMethane (the process of making BioMethane is called "BioMethanation") is called is essentially free.  

Again, unlike the price of natural gas, which has been around $6.00/mmbtu for the past year. 

More About Biomass Gasification and BioMethanation Technology 

The process of Biomass Gasification produces BioMethane. BioMethane is also produced in anaerobic digesters, in the process called anaerobic digestion.  BioMethane is a renewable energy resource, as opposed to natural gas (methane), which is a non-renewable energy resource. BioMethane has similar qualities of methane and both are used in interchangeably, and each may be a substitute for the other.  

The production and disposal of large quantities of organic and biodegradable waste without adequate or proper treatment results in widespread environmental pollution. Some waste streams can be treated by conventional methods like aeration. Compared to the aerobic method, the use of anaerobic digesters in processing these waste streams provides greater economic and environmental benefits and advantages.

As previously stated, Biomethanation is the process of conversion of organic matter in the waste (liquid or solid) to BioMethane (sometimes referred to as "BioGas) and manure by microbial action in the absence of air, known as "anaerobic digestion."

Conventional digesters such as sludge digesters and anaerobic CSTR (Continuous Stirred Tank Reactors) have been used for many decades in sewage treatment plants for stabilizing the activated sludge and sewage solids. 

Interest in BioMethanation as an economic, environmental and energy-saving waste treatment continues to gain greater interest world-wide and has led to the development of a range of anaerobic reactor designs. These high-rate, high-efficiency anaerobic digesters are also referred to as "retained biomass reactors" since they are based on the concept of retaining viable biomass by sludge immobilization.

Biomass Gasification and the Production of BioMethane

Biomass is a renewable energy resource which includes a wide variety if organic resources. A few of these include wood, agricultural residue/waste, and animal manure. 

Biomass Gasification is the process in which BioMethane is produced in the BioMass Gasification process. The BioMethane is then used like any other fuel, such as natural gas, which is not a renewable fuel.

Historically, biomass use has been characterized by low btu and low efficiencies. However, today biomass gasification is gaining world-wide recognition and favor due to the economic and environmental benefits. In terms of economic benefits, the cost of the BioMethane is essentially free, after the cost of the equipment is installed. BioMethane, probably the most important and efficient energy-conversion technology for a wide variety of biomass fuels. The large-scale deployment of efficient technology along with interventions to enhance the sustainable supply of biomass fuels can transform the energy supply situation in rural areas. 
It has the potential to become the growth engine for rural development in the country. 

Principles of Biomass Gasification

Biomass fuels such as firewood and agriculture-generated residues and wastes are generally organic.  They contain carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen along with some moisture. Under controlled conditions, characterized by low oxygen supply and high temperatures, most biomass materials can be converted into a gaseous fuel known as producer gas, which consists of carbon monoxide, hydrogen, carbon dioxide, methane and nitrogen. This thermo-chemical conversion of solid biomass into gaseous fuel is called biomass gasification. The producer gas so produced has low a calorific value (1000-1200 Kcal/Nm3), but can be burnt with a high efficiency and a good degree of control without emitting smoke. Each kilogram of air-dry biomass (10% moisture content) yields about 2.5 Nm3 of producer gas. In energy terms, the conversion efficiency of the gasification process is in the range of 60%-70%.

Multiple Advantages of Biomass Gasification
in Methane Production

Conversion of solid biomass into combustible gas has all the advantages associated with using gaseous and liquid fuels such as clean combustion, compact burning equipment, 
high thermal efficiency and a good degree of control. In locations, where biomass is already available at reasonable low prices (e.g. rice mills) or in industries using fuel wood, gasifier systems offer definite economic advantages. Biomass gasification technology is also environment-friendly, because of the firewood savings and reduction in CO2 emissions.
Biomass gasification technology has the potential to replace diesel and other petroleum products in several applications, foreign exchange.

Applications for Biomass Gasification

Thermal applications: cooking, water boiling, steam generation, drying etc.
Motive power applications: Using producer gas as a fuel in IC engines for applications such as water pumping Electricity generation: Using producer gas in dual-fuel mode in diesel engines/as the only fuel in spark ignition engines/in gas turbines.

Publicly Owned Treatment Works ("POTW's") or Wastewater Treatment Systems

More and more, cities, counties and municipalities are faced with greater environmental compliance issues relating to their municipally-owned landfills, Publicly Owned Treatment Works ("POTW's") or Wastewater Treatment Systems.  

A city's landfill and/or POTW provides an excellent opportunity for cities to reduce their emissions as well as provide an additional revenue stream.  These facilities may have valuable gases that our company recovers and pipes to one of our clean, environmentally-friendly cogeneration or trigeneration energy systems.  

Our company provides economic and ecological solutions for cities and municipalities and provide a new cash flow simultaneously.  We offer turn-key solutions for cities that includes the preliminary feasibility analysis, engineering and design, project management, permitting and commissioning.  We provide very attractive financing packages for cities that does not add to a city's liability, yet provides a valuable new revenue stream.  And, we are also able to offer a turn-key solution for qualified municipalities that includes our company owning, operating and maintaining the onsite power and energy plant.

At the heart of the system is a (Bio) Methane Gas Recovery system similar those used in Flare Gas Recovery or Vapor Recovery Units.  Methane Gas Recovery, Flare Gas Recovery, Vapor Recovery, Waste to Energy and Vapor Recovery Units all recover valuable "waste" or vented fuels that can be used to provide fuel for an onsite power generation plant.  Our waste-to-energy and waste to fuel systems significantly or entirely, reduces your facility's emissions (such as NOx , SOx, H2S, CO , CO2 and other Hazardous Air Pollutants/Greenhouse Gases) and convert these valuable emissions from an environmental problem into a new cash revenue stream and profit center.

Methane Gas Recovery and vapor recovery units can be located in hundreds of applications and locations.  At a landfill, Wastewaster Treatment System (or Publicly Owned Treatment Works - "POTW") gases from the facility can be captured from the anaerobic digesters, and manifolded/piped to one of our onsite power generation plants, and make, essentially, "free" electricity for your facility's use.  These associated "biogases" that are  generated from municipally owned landfills or wastewater treatment plants have low btu content or heating values, ranging around 550-650 btu's.  This makes them unsuitable for use in natural gas applications. When burned as fuel to generate electricity, however, these gases become a valuable source of "renewable" power and energy for the facility's use or resale to the electric grid. 

Additionally, if heat (steam and/or hot water) is required, we will incorporate our cogeneration or trigeneration system into the project and provide some, or all, of your hot water/steam requirements. Similarly, at crude oil refineries, gas processing plants, exploration and production sites, and gasoline storage/tank farm site, we convert your facility's "waste fuel" and environmental liabilities into profitable, environmentally-friendly solutions.

Our Methane Gas Recovery systems are designed and engineered for these specific applications.  It is important to note that there are many internal combustion engines or combustion turbines that are NOT suited for these applications.  Our systems are engineered precisely for your facility's application, and our engineers know the engines and turbines that will work as well as those that don't.  More importantly, we are vendor and supplier neutral!  Our only concerns are for the optimum system solution for your company, and we look past brand names and sales propaganda to determine the optimum system, which may incorporate either one or more; gas engine genset(s) or gas turbine genset(s), in cogeneration or trigeneration mode - in trigeneration mode, we incorporate absorption chillers to make chilled water for process or air-conditioning, fuel gas conditioning equipment and gas compressor(s). 

Our turn-key systems includes design, engineering, permitting, project management, commissioning, as well as financing for our qualified customers. Additionally, we may be interested in owning and operating the flare gas recovery or vapor recovery units. For these applications, there is no investment required from the customer.

For more information, please provide us with the following information about the flare gas or vapor:   

  • Type of gas being flared or vented (methane, bio-gas, digester, landfill, etc.).

  • Chromatograph Fuel/Gas analysis which provides us with the btu's (heating value) and the composition of the gas and its' impurities such as methane (and the percentage of methane), soloxanes, carbon dioxide, hydrogen, hydrogen sulfide, and any other hydrocarbons. 

  • Total amount of gas available, from all sources, at the facility.  

* Waste Heat Recovery

Many industrial processes generate large amounts of waste energy that simply pass out of plant stacks and into the atmosphere or are otherwise lost. Most industrial waste heat streams are liquid, gaseous, or a combination of the two and have temperatures from slightly above ambient to over 2000 degrees F. Stack exhaust losses are inherent in all fuel-fired processes and increase with the exhaust temperature and the amount of excess air the exhaust contains. At stack gas temperatures greater than 1000 degrees F, the heat going up the stack is likely to be the single biggest loss in the process. Above 1800 degrees F, stack losses will consume at least half of the total fuel input to the process. Yet, the energy that is recovered from waste heat streams could displace part or all of the energy input needs for a unit operation within a plant. Therefore, waste heat recovery offers a great opportunity to productively use this energy, reducing overall plant energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. 

Waste heat recovery methods used with industrial process heating operations intercept the waste gases before they leave the process, extract some of the heat they contain, and recycle that heat back to the process. 

Common methods of recovering heat include direct heat recovery to the process, recuperators/regenerators, and waste heat boilers. Unfortunately, the economic benefits of waste heat recovery do not justify the cost of these systems in every application. For example, heat recovery from lower temperature waste streams (e.g., hot water or low-temperature flue gas) is thermodynamically limited. Equipment fouling, occurring during the handling of “dirty” waste streams, is another barrier to more widespread use of heat recovery systems. Innovative, affordable waste heat recovery methods that are ultra-efficient, are applicable to low-temperature streams, or are suitable for use with corrosive or “dirty” wastes could expand the number of viable applications of waste heat recovery, as well as improve the performance of existing applications. 

Various Methods for Recovery of Waste Heat

Low-Temperature Waste Heat Recovery Methods – A large amount of energy in the form of medium- to low-temperature gases or low-temperature liquids (less than about 250 degrees F) is released from process heating equipment, and much of this energy is wasted. 

Conversion of Low Temperature Exhaust Waste Heat – making efficient use of the low temperature waste heat generated by prime movers such as micro-turbines, IC engines, fuel cells and other electricity producing technologies. The energy content of the waste heat must be high enough to be able to operate equipment found in cogeneration and trigeneration power and energy systems such as absorption chillers, refrigeration applications, heat amplifiers, dehumidifiers, heat pumps for hot water, turbine inlet air cooling and other similar devices. 

Conversion of Low Temperature Waste Heat into Power –The steam-Rankine cycle is the principle method used for producing electric power from high temperature fluid streams. For the conversion of low temperature heat into power, the steam-Rankine cycle may be a possibility, along with other known power cycles, such as the organic-Rankine cycle. 

Small to Medium Air-Cooled Commercial Chillers – All existing commercial chillers, whether using waste heat, steam or natural gas, are water-cooled (i.e., they must be connected to cooling towers which evaporate water into the atmosphere to aid in cooling). This requirement generally limits the market to large commercial-sized units (150 tons or larger), because of the maintenance requirements for the cooling towers. Additionally, such units consume water for cooling, limiting their application in arid regions of the U.S. No suitable small-to-medium size (15 tons to 200 tons) air-cooled absorption chillers are commercially available for these U.S. climates. A small number of prototype air-cooled absorption chillers have been developed in Japan, but they use “hardware” technology that is not suited to the hotter temperatures experienced in most locations in the United States. Although developed to work with natural gas firing, these prototype air-cooled absorption chillers would also be suited to use waste heat as the fuel. 

Recovery of Waste Heat in Cogeneration 
and Trigeneration Power Plants

In most cogeneration and trigeneration power and energy systems, the exhaust gas from the electric generation equipment is ducted to a heat exchanger to recover the thermal energy in the gas. These heat exchangers are air-to-water heat exchangers, where the exhaust gas flows over some form of tube and fin heat exchange surface and the heat from the exhaust gas is transferred to make hot water or steam. The hot water or steam is then used to provide hot water or steam heating and/or to operate thermally activated equipment, such as an absorption chiller for cooling or a desiccant dehumidifer for dehumidification.

Many of the waste heat recovery technologies used in building co/trigeneration systems require hot water, some at moderate pressures of 15 to 150 psig. In the cases where additional steam or pressurized hot water is needed, it may be necessary to provide supplemental heat to the exhaust gas with a duct burner.

In some applications air-to-air heat exchangers can be used. In other instances, if the emissions from the generation equipment are low enough, such as is with many of the microturbine technologies, the hot exhaust gases can be mixed with make-up air and vented directly into the heating system for building heating.

In the majority of installations, a flapper damper or "diverter" is employed to vary flow across the heat transfer surfaces of the heat exchanger to maintain a specific design temperature of the hot water or steam generation rate. 

Typical Waste Heat Recovery Installation

In some co/trigeneration designs, the exhaust gases can be used to activate a thermal wheel or a desiccant dehumidifier.  Thermal wheels use the exhaust gas to heat a wheel with a medium that absorbs the heat and then transfers the heat when the wheel is rotated into the incoming airflow.

A professional engineer should be involved in designing and sizing of the waste heat recovery section. For a proper and economical operation, the design of the heat recovery section involves consideration of many related factors, such as the thermal capacity of the exhaust gases, the exhaust flow rate, the sizing and type of heat exchanger, and the desired parameters over a various range of operating conditions of the co/trigeneration system — all of which need to be considered for proper and economical operation.

Renewable Energy Basics

The United States currently relies heavily on coal, oil, and natural gas for its energy. Fossil fuels are nonrenewable, that is, they draw on finite resources that will eventually dwindle, becoming too expensive or too environmentally damaging to retrieve. In contrast, renewable energy resources—such as wind and solar energy—are constantly replenished and will never run out.

Most renewable energy comes either directly or indirectly from the sun. Sunlight, or solar energy, can be used directly for heating and lighting homes and other buildings, for generating electricity, and for hot water heating, solar cooling, and a variety of commercial and industrial uses.

The sun's heat also drives the winds, whose energy is captured with wind turbines. Then, the winds and the sun's heat cause water to evaporate. When this water vapor turns into rain or snow and flows downhill into rivers or streams, its energy can be captured using hydropower.

Along with the rain and snow, sunlight causes plants to grow. The organic matter that makes up those plants is known as biomass. Biomass can be used to produce electricity, transportation fuels, or chemicals. The use of biomass for any of these purposes is called biomass energy.

Hydrogen also can be found in many organic compounds, as well as water. It's the most abundant element on the Earth. But it doesn't occur naturally as a gas. It's always combined with other elements, such as with oxygen to make water. Once separated from another element, hydrogen can be burned as a fuel or converted into electricity.

Not all renewable energy resources come from the sun. Geothermal energy taps the Earth's internal heat for a variety of uses, including electric power production, and the heating and cooling of buildings. And the energy of the ocean's tides comes from the gravitational pull of the moon and the sun upon the Earth.

In fact, ocean energy comes from a number of sources. In addition to tidal energy, there's the energy of the ocean's waves, which are driven by both the tides and the winds. The sun also warms the surface of the ocean more than the ocean depths, creating a temperature difference that can be used as an energy source. All these forms of ocean energy can be used to produce electricity.

Renewable energy provides many important benefits including:

Environmental Benefits

Photo of a photovoltaic system at the Farallon National Wildlife Refuge.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service uses a photovoltaic system to provide clean energy at the Farallon National Wildlife Refuge.

Renewable energy technologies are a lot friendlier to the environment than conventional energy technologies, which rely on fossil fuels. Fossil fuels contribute significantly to many of the environmental problems we face today—greenhouse gases, air pollution, and water and soil contamination—while renewable energy sources contribute very little or not at all.

Greenhouse gases—carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrocarbons, and chlorofluorocarbons—surround the Earth's atmosphere like a clear thermal blanket, allowing the sun's warming rays in and trapping the heat close to the Earth's surface. This natural greenhouse effect keeps the Earth's average surface temperature at about 60°F (33°C). But the increased use of fossil fuels has significantly increased greenhouse gas emissions, particularly carbon dioxide, creating an enhanced greenhouse effect known as global warming. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), carbon dioxide is responsible for one-half to two-thirds of our contribution to global warming. Renewable energy technologies, however, can produce heat and electricity with a very low or no amount of carbon dioxide emissions.

Energy use from fossil fuels is also a primary source of air, water, and soil pollution. Pollutants—such as carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter, and lead—take a dramatic toll on our environment. On the other hand, most renewable energy technologies produce little or no pollution.

Both pollution and global warming pose major health risks to humans. According to the American Lung Association, air pollution contributes to lung disease — including asthma, lung cancer, and respiratory tract infections — and close to 335,000 people in the United States die from it every year. Meanwhile, the long-term effects associated with global warming may be even more devastating. Deaths due to extreme weather could increase, and diseases could have a greater potential to thrive as temperatures rise.

Ultimately, renewable energy technologies could help us break our conventional pattern of energy use to improve the quality of our environment.

Energy for the Future

Photo of a child on a bike in front of a large cornfield.

This cornfield can be used to make ethanol—a fuel we won't run out of as long we grow corn and other comparable plants.

What will the world's energy use be like in the future? Well, we can be pretty certain that electricity use will grow worldwide. The International Energy Agency projects that the world's electrical generating capacity will increase to nearly 5.8 million megawatts by the year 2020, up from about 3.3 million in 2000. However, the world supplies of fossil fuels—our current main source of electricity—will start to run out from the years 2020 to 2060, according to the petroleum industry's best analysts. How will we meet those electricity needs? Our best answer could be renewable energy.

Shell International predicts that renewable energy will supply 60% of the world's energy by 2060. The World Bank estimates that the global market for solar electricity will reach $4 trillion in about 30 years. Biomass fuels could also replace gasoline. It is estimated that the United States could produce 190 billion gallons per year of ethanol using available biomass resources in this country.

And unlike fossil fuels, renewable energy sources are sustainable. They will never run out. According to the World Commission on Environment and Development, sustainability is the concept of meeting "the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." That means our actions today to use renewable energy technologies will not only benefit us now, but will benefit many generations to come.

Jobs and the Economy

Photo of a woman testing a wind turbine.

A certification test engineer, shown here measuring the noise from a wind turbine, is one of many careers available in the renewables industry.

Many U.S. communities have to import fossil fuels, such as oil and natural gas, to provide electricity, heating, and fuel. The cost of these fossil fuels can add up to billions of dollars. And every dollar spent on energy imports is a dollar that the local economy loses. Renewable energy resources, however, are developed locally. The dollars spent on energy stay at home, creating more jobs and fostering economic growth.

Renewable energy technologies are labor intensive. Jobs evolve directly from the manufacture, design, installation, servicing, and marketing of renewable energy products. Jobs even arise indirectly from businesses that supply renewable energy companies with raw materials, transportation, equipment, and professional services, such as accounting and clerical services.

In turn, the wages and salaries generated from these jobs provide additional income in the local economy. Renewable energy companies also contribute more tax revenue locally than conventional energy sources.

The economic advantages of renewable energy also extend far beyond the local economy. The whole country benefits. In 2001, the United States spent about $103 billion dollars outside the country for oil. But as one of the world's leading manufacturers of renewable energy systems, we can bring in more money with the increased use of renewable energy sources around the world. Currently, for example, the United States manufactures about two-thirds of the world's photovoltaic (PV) systems. And it exports about 70% of these PV systems, mostly to developing nations, resulting in annual sales of more than $300 million.

Energy Security

Photo of the American Flag made out of photovoltaic panels.

NREL's Solar Independence Exhibit featured a 4-kilowatt photovoltaic system that is used for mobile emergency power.

Our nation's energy security continues to be threatened by our dependency on fossil fuels. These conventional energy sources are vulnerable to political instabilities, trade disputes, embargoes, and other disruptions.

U.S. domestic oil production has been declining since 1970. In 1973, the United States only imported about 34% of its oil. Today, our country imports more than 53%, and it is estimated that this could increase to 75% by 2010.

Most of the world's oil reserves are now in the Middle East. We have witnessed this shift in economic influence through the last three sharp increases in the world's oil prices: the Arab Oil Embargo in 1974, the Iranian Oil Embargo in 1979, and the Persian Gulf War in 1990. It has resulted in periods of negative economic growth and a rising trade deficit.

But with renewable energy, we can decrease our dependency on foreign oil imports. For example, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that if we displace 10% of our petroleum use for transportation with biofuels, which are produced from organic material, we could save about $15 billion over 10 years. A 20% displacement could save us about $50 billion. This would strengthen our energy security, as well as our economic and national security.

Texas: At an Energy Crossroads

Black Gold

Ever since the first oil well gushed forth in East Texas in 1866, Texas has been renowned for its "black gold." An oil-related economy developed around subsequent oil discoveries as the state prospered with its flourishing petroleum industry. Throughout most of the first half of the century, oil was plentiful, prices were low and most of the world’s oil was produced and consumed in the U.S. At mid-century, Texas was the dominant producer in the world oil market, producing more oil than the entire output of the Middle East. From its oil and gas revenues, the state has collected billions of dollars in taxes that have built some of the nation's best roads, schools and infrastructure.


Until 1972 it seemed that Texas oil would never run out, but in that year Texas oil production peaked and began a decline in both reserves and production until, today, Texas has become a net energy importer. With uncanny timing, the OPEC Oil Embargo hit in 1973. Concurrent with the oil decline, Americans were witnessing long lines of cars waiting to fill up at shocking gasoline prices. It was a major turning point in the world oil market — and a wake-up call. Along with the rest of the nation, Texas is taking a hard look at its energy scenario in terms of developing a stable, clean and plentiful energy future. Texas is at a crossroads wherein development of vast in-state renewable energy sources, coupled with energy efficiency measures, offer Texans the chance to redirect their focus in order to regain and maintain their energy independence.

Texas has more renewable energy potential than any other state, ranking first in practically all categories. Already equipped with expertise and resources in the area of energy production, Texas can recapture its former energy independence by shifting focus to renewable energy. Not only would such a move cut down on our growing dependence on oil imports, it would also spur the Texas economy, create jobs, increase our tax base and clean up our air.

Texas has more renewable energy potential than any other state.
Texas has more renewable energy potential than any other state.

Texas is beginning to shift focus to its vast renewable and clean energy resources.



Declining Costs of Renewable Energy

The cost of energy from renewable technologies has steadily declined in the past quarter century. As an example, the cost of wind energy has declined from about 30-45 cents per kilowatt-hour in 1980 to less than 5 cents today. Wind, PV, geothermal, solar thermal, and biomass have all seen significant drops in cost with the improvements in technology.

renewable energy costs are declining

It makes economic sense for Texas to tap into its vast renewable reserves. With declining costs, renewable energy sources are becoming more competitive with fossil fuels.

Cost Curves
This DOE PowerPoint presentation shows historical renewable energy cost trends with projections through 2020.

Texas Fuel Demands

Although home to just eight percent of the U.S. population, Texas uses more electricity, natural gas, coal and oil than any other state; and demand is increasing, particularly for electricity. This fact is significant because new energy facilities, renewable or otherwise, will be constructed most rapidly in the context of a large, growing energy economy. The demand is there, the resources are there, and Texas is proving that it has the motivation and expertise to develop the requisite infrastructure to harvest these natural resources.

Texas fuel demand by sector and type.
Texas Railroad Commission interpretation of U. S. Department of energy data.

Texas Infrastructure — Making the Switch

As one of the major energy production and consumption centers in the world, Texas has extensive energy infrastructure already in place. The early Texas oil fields served as fertile ground for the growth of numerous support numerous industries from heavy equipment fabricators to oilfield service providers and fire control experts to specialized petroleum landmen and lawyers. In many cases, members of these fledgling groups have come to be recognized as the world's most knowledgeable and capable experts in their fields.

The Permian Basin, Texas Panhandle and Texas/Louisiana Gulf Coast are among the largest gathering regions and transportation hubs for pipeline gas in North America. Even though competition for access to available energy transportation infrastructure poses a near-term challenge for renewable energy projects, it also represents a considerable long-term opportunity. As it becomes increasingly difficult to construct new energy transmission projects, existing energy infrastructure and transmission right-of-ways may prove to be a strategic asset that benefit Texas renewables. Hydrogen generated by solar plants in the Permian Basin, wind plants in the Panhandle and geopressure facilities along the Gulf Coast, could some day trace the same routes currently used by Texas natural gas to reach markets across North America.

Unique Factors – Unique Opportunity

Texas, perhaps more than any other state, stands to benefit from the rapid development of renewables. Several factors position Texas favorably to pioneer the widespread use of renewable energy resources:

Texas has high total renewable energy resource potential.
Texas ranks first nationally in practically all renewable energy resource categories (number one for solar and biomass; number two for wind).
Texas has high current and projected energy needs.
Ironically this is a plus for Texas, for although abundant availability of a resource is a prerequisite to widespread use, development of any resource is strictly limited by the demand for it.  As demand is growing, so is the scramble to find alternative ways to supply the growing energy needs of Texans.
Texas has considerable existing energy infrastructure.
Texas already has an existing energy infrastructure, as discussed in the previous section on Texas Expertise.
Texas is strategically located relative to Latin American markets.
Growing demand in Latin America for raw energy, energy technology and services represents opportunity for all Texas energy enterprises. Texas’ physical proximity to and prominence with Mexico, Central America and South America must be considered a strategic advantage for trade with those regions. Furthermore, 60% of the electrical interconnection points and 75% of the major gas pipelines between the U. S. and Mexico meet at the Texas border.
Texas Wildcatters

Texans have a rich and colorful past in mining nature's energy resources, of seizing the moment when opportunity is promising but uncertain. Wildcatters were after oil, they knew it was there, but where exactly? They risked everything to find a "wildcat," an oil gusher as yet unexplored and unclaimed. What began with wildcatter foresight ended with the Texas oil boom.

Enlightened by the rich history of the Texas oil industry, Texans now have the opportunity to recapture that “wildcatter” experience and capitalize on the enduring benefits possible from nurturing a vibrant domestic renewable energy industry through the early development of the state’s vast renewable resources.

Although hydropower and biomass have long contributed to our nation's energy mix, the renewable energy industry is in its early stages of development. Wind and solar technologies, in particular, are seemingly on the verge of capturing a significant share of new energy markets. If renewable energy sources emerge as a dominant contributor to future energy markets, economics benefits will accrue to those regions that pioneer the development of successful renewable energy technologies.

When decision makers contemplate priorities for investing in the development of renewable resources, Texas offers a logical proving ground with superior potential for high return on investment. Texas is well positioned to reap the benefits from the early development of renewable resources and the continued development of the infrastructure to service and market these resources.

What is renewable energy?

Energy derived from resources that are regenerative or for all practical purposes can not be depleted. Types of renewable energy resources include moving water (hydro, tidal and wave power), thermal gradients in ocean water, biomass, geothermal energy, solar energy, and wind energy. Municipal solid waste (MSW) is also considered to be a renewable energy resource.

What is biomass?

Biomass is any sort of vegetation - trees, grasses, plant parts such as leaves, stems and twigs, and ocean plants. From it, we can extract a wealth of stored energy. During photosynthesis, plants combine carbon dioxide from the air and water from the ground to form carbohydrates, which form the building blocks of biomass. The solar energy that drives photosynthesis is stored in the chemical bonds of the structural components of biomass. While the actual ratio of components varies among species, biomass averages 75% carbohydrates or sugars and 25% lignin.

If we burn biomass efficiently (which extracts the energy stored in the chemical bonds), then oxygen from the atmosphere combines with the carbon in plants to produce carbon dioxide and water. Biomass can produce electricity, heat, liquid fuels, gaseous fuels, and a variety of useful chemicals, including those currently manufactured from fossil fuels. Industry and agriculture need superior energy crops and cost-effective conversion technologies to expand the use of renewable biomass. Biomass is available from various industries - including agriculture, forest products, transportation, and construction - that dispose of large quantities of wood and plant products. Whether cultivated or growing wild, biomass represents a huge renewable energy source.

What are energy crops?

Energy crops are crops that are grown for the specific purpose of producing energy (electricity or liquid fuels) from all or part of the resulting plant. Switchgrass, alfalfa, willow, poplar and eucalyptus are examples of plants that can be grown as energy crops.

Where are biomass resources located?

Virtually every part of the world has a biomass resource that can be tapped to create power.

How much biomass is used for energy today?

Worldwide, biomass is the fourth largest energy resource after coal, oil, and natural gas. It is used for heating (such as wood stoves in homes and for process heat and steam in industries such as pulp and paper), cooking (especially in many parts of the developing world), transportation (fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel) and for electric power generation. It is estimated that there are about 278 Quadrillion Btu of installed biomass capacity worldwide, with about 2.7 Quadrillion Btu of biomass generated in the United States. Most of this capacity is in the pulp and paper industry using combined heat and power systems 

What is the difference between biofuels, biopower, and bioproducts?

In practice, we tend to use these three different terms for three different end uses - transportation, electric power or heat, and products such as chemicals and materials. "Biofuel" is short for "biomass fuel." We use the term "biofuels" for liquid fuels for transportation, such as ethanol and biodiesel that can be purely from biomass such as B100 or, in part, such as E10 (the number after the letter represents the percentage of biodiesel or ethanol in the fuel). We tend to use "BioPower" for "biomass power" systems that generate electricity or industrial process heat and steam, such as from combined heat and power (CHP) systems. The term "bioproduct" is short for biomass products, and can be used to describe a chemical, material, or other product derived from renewable biomass resources.

What is bioethanol?

Ethanol is the most widely used biofuel today. In 2003, more than 2.8 billion gallons were added to gasoline in the United States to improve vehicle performance and reduce air pollution. Ethanol is an alcohol, and most is made using a process similar to brewing beer where starch crops are converted into sugars, the sugars are fermented into ethanol, and then the ethanol is distilled into its final form. Ethanol made from cellulosic biomass materials instead of traditional feedstocks (starch crops) is called bioethanol.

Ethanol is used to increase octane and improve the emissions quality of gasoline. The Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 mandated the sale of oxygenated fuels in areas of the country with unhealthy levels of carbon monoxide. Since that time, there has been strong demand for ethanol as an oxygenate blended with gasoline. In some areas of the United States today, ethanol is blended with gasoline to form an E10 blend (10% ethanol and 90% gasoline), but it can be used in higher concentrations such as E85 or in its pure form. All automobile manufacturers that do business in the United States approve the use of certain ethanol/gasoline blends. Fuel ethanol blends are successfully used in all types of vehicles and engines that require gasoline. Approval of ethanol blends is found in the owners' manuals under references to refueling or gasoline.

What is renewable diesel?

Renewable diesel fuels are fuels that are used in diesel engines in place of or blended with petroleum diesel, but are made from renewable resources such as vegetable oils, animal fats, or other types of biomass such as grasses and trees. Biodiesel is an example of a renewable diesel fuel that is used all across America today. Biodiesel is manufactured from vegetable oils, animal fats, and recycled restaurant greases, which are all renewable. E-diesel may be the next new renewable diesel fuel. E-diesel is a blend of ethanol and diesel fuel with other chemicals to improve the performance of the blend. The ethanol portion of E-diesel is renewable because it is made from grains like corn. Another new renewable diesel fuel is Fischer-Tropsch diesel fuel. Fischer-Tropsch diesel is made from coal and natural gas today, but in the future we could make it out of grasses, trees, or anything organic. All these renewable diesel fuels can be used instead of petroleum diesel fuel to help reduce our petroleum imports, reduce our air pollution, and improve our nation's economy.

Biodiesel is a renewable diesel fuel consisting of fatty-acid alkyl esters. Fatty-acid alkyl esters are actually long chains of carbon molecules (12 to 22 carbons long) with an alcohol molecule attached to one end of the chain. Biodiesel is made by a process called transesterification. Organically derived oils are combined with alcohol (usually methanol) and chemically altered to form fatty esters such as methyl ester. The biomass-derived esters can be blended with conventional diesel fuel or used as a neat fuel (100% biodiesel).

What is biomass power?

Biomass power is the use of biomass feedstocks instead of conventional fossil fuels (natural gas or coal) to generate electricity or industrial process heat and steam. Biomass is one of the oldest fuels known to humanity. Although basic, the primitive campfire illustrates the nature of using biomass for power. When the biomass is burned, it produces heat. In a power plant, this heat is used to turn water into steam. The steam is then used to turn turbines, which are connected to electric generators. Gasifiers heat the biomass to convert it into a gas that can be used in highly efficient power systems, such as combustion turbines or fuel cells.

What are bioproducts?

Renewable bioproducts are products created from plant- or crop-based resources such as agricultural crops and crop residues, forestry, pastures, and rangelands. Many of the products that could be made from renewable bioproducts are now made from petroleum.

Are biofuels available today?

In 2004, production of ethanol from biomass (primarily corn grain) reached 3.4 billion gallons, up 21% from the previous year and double production of just four years ago. It was blended into more than 30% of U.S. gasoline (Renewable Fuels Association) but still accounted for just about 2% (2003) of gasoline consumed in the United States (Federal Highway Administration). Nearly all gasoline oxygenated to reduce carbon monoxide during winter months contains ethanol, although this is a relatively small market (8% of 2004 use). With bans of MTBE (20 states as of 2005) use of ethanol for reformulated gasoline to reduce ground-level ozone (smog) has grown dramatically, reaching 55% of 2004 use. About 29% of 2004 ethanol use was as an octane booster in regular gasoline. (Renewable Fuels Association) For this market, ethanol competes with petroleum-derived additives such as aromatics and alkylates, as well as MTBE. States using the most ethanol for octane boosting seem to be a function of blender preferences, political support for ethanol, and past as well as current subsidies for ethanol use, rather than straight price competition.

As of February, 2005, there were more than 200 E-85 fueling stations in 30 states for flexible fuels vehicles FFV. The Alternative Fuels Data Center Alternative Fuel Station Locator or Alternative Fuels Hotline (800-423-1363) can help you locate these stations and other alternative fuels stations in your area. Ethanol is more widely used in Brazil, where it is made from sugar cane, than in the United States.

Iogen Corporation of Canada is the only company so far to start commercial production of ethanol from cellulose and hemicellulose, the fibrous sugar polymers that make up the bulk of plant material, but several U.S. and European companies are moving toward commercial production.

Biodiesel, made from soybean oil or recycled restaurant grease, is used mostly by fleet operators, but as of February, 2005, was already offered by nearly 180 retail service stations in about two-thirds of the states in the United States. The Alternative Fuels Data Center and National Biodiesel Board (NBB) Web sites can help you locate these stations and the NBB, a trade association for biodiesel producers can help you locate biodiesel producers and distributors that market to fleets in your area. Biodiesel is more widely used in Europe, where it is made from canola oil, than it is in the United States.

If we already make ethanol from corn and corn is a surplus crop, why do we need to make it from cellulose and hemicellulose? Although ethanol production from corn can still expand greatly, its primary use is for animal feed and food products such as beverage sweeteners, and it may not always be in surplus. Advanced biotechnology cellulosic ethanol will supplement rather than replace corn ethanol, but it will also provide diversity, possible cost savings, and a vastly greater choice of potential feedstocks. Starches, such as that in corn kernels, and sugars are only a very small portion of available biomass materials; cellulose and hemicellulose form the bulk of most plant materials. Making ethanol from cellulose and hemicellulose dramatically expands the types and amount of available feedstock. This includes many materials now regarded as wastes requiring disposal, as well as biomass residues such as corn stalks and wood chips or "energy crops" of fast-growing trees and grasses.

What is keeping cellulosic ethanol from commercial availability?

In short, the costs associated with being a new technology. Although cellulosic feedstocks such as agricultural and forestry residues and waste materials would be far cheaper than corn grain-the main cost in current ethanol production-the added cost of capital equipment and processing needed to breakdown and then ferment the cellulose and hemicellulose is currently more than the savings. Reducing those costs is the principal focus of the Biomass Program, however, and we anticipate substantial cost reductions. The other main hurdle for the first advanced bioethanol technology producers is just that they would be first with a new technology. Investors are reluctant to commit to unproven technologies—and much of the cost of advanced bioethanol technology is for the capital equipment—so financing construction is a major challenge for the "pioneer" cellulosic ethanol plants.

Can I produce my own biofuels?

If you have an inexpensive starch or sugar supply to use as a feedstock, the technology is relatively simple; similar to making alcoholic beverages. Just be sure to check with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms to avoid being arrested as a moonshiner. Around 1980/1981, the USDA, DOE, and others actively promoted on-farm production of fuel ethanol. We do not know how much production was stimulated by that or how much of it continues today (would like to hear, if someone knows), but a Fuel from Farms (PDF 9.17 KB) guide produced at the time contains useful information for small-scale ethanol production. On a larger scale, you would want to hire an engineering or consulting firm. Check the membership list of the Renewable Fuels Association. Advanced bioethanol technology for cellulosic feedstocks is considerably more sophisticated, so you will definitely need to hire an ethanol industry engineering or consulting firm. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency currently limits ethanol fuel use to blends of 5.7%-10% or 70%-85% with gasoline. The higher blends should only be used in flexible-fuel vehicles with corrosion-resistant fuel systems.

Biodiesel can be produced quite easily on a small scale from an appropriate vegetable oil or animal fat source, but it is critical to rigorously meet prescribed fuel specifications to avoid the possibility of engine damage. 2004 Biodiesel Handling and Use Guidelines (PDF 1.6 MB, see Table 4) is a good initial information source. The actual prescribed standards may be purchased from the American Society for Testing and Materials. The National Biodiesel Board is a good source for consultants and current producers.

What are biomass gasifiers?

Biomass gasifiers are reactors that heat biomass in a low-oxygen environment to produce a fuel gas that contains from one fifth to one half (depending on the process conditions) the heat content of natural gas. The gas produced from a gasifier can drive highly efficient devices such as turbines and fuel cells to generate electricity.

What are anaerobic digesters?

Anaerobic digesters are closed reactors that use natural microorganism consortia to produce methane and carbon dioxide from biomass. The methane can be burned as fuel or made into bioproducts and the residual material used as compost. Although the Biomass Program is not currently doing much research on this technology, a joint Enviromental Protection Agency/Department of Agriculture/Department of Energy program known as AgSTAR works to encourage use of existing technology for manures at animal feedlots.

What is microalgal biodiesel?

Because the cost of biodiesel is largely a function of the feedstock oil source, a less expensive oil crop might make a great difference. Microscopic algae that naturally produce a significant portion of their mass as fat and can be grown for high yield are promising oil sources. They also offer promise as effective ways to capture carbon dioxide from powerplant flue gases or other source. U.S. Department of Energy researchers explored ways to improve microalgae oil yields through genetic engineering, life-cycle manipulation and other means from the late 1970s to the early 1990s. This research program was ended in part because it did not appear that, while prolific, the microalgae could be grown cheaply enough to compete with petroleum biodiesel. That research is summarized in a "close-out report" (PDF 3.6 MB). Enthusiasm for microalgae by outside researchers, such as ones at the University of New Hampshire and the University of Hawaii has, however, sparked renewed interest.

What incentives are or could be made available for using biomass to produce fuels, power, chemicals, materials, and other value-added products?

Effective with 2005, fuel ethanol and biodiesel production receive a tax credit of $0.51 and $1.00 per gallon, respectively ($0.50 if biodiesel is made from recycled rather than virgin vegetable oil or animal fat). Ethanol has had a similar level subsidy for a number of years, and with it has been generally competitive with MTBE, the primary other option for boosting octane or meeting oxygenate requirements, and close to competitive with gasoline itself. Small (less than 30 million gallons per year capacity) ethanol producers are also eligible for an additional subsidy. This program was little used in the past, but new provisions should make it possible for more small producers to take advantage of it. The biodiesel subsidy is new and should make biodiesel competitive with petroleum-derived diesel and make a substantial difference in its sales.

As of January 2004, according to a California Energy Commission study (PDF 770 KB), a total of 36 states also provide some sort of incentive for ethanol production (22) or use (32) — many have both. (Biofuels for Your State" (PDF 319 KB) explains these incentives. Because of interstate sales, the trend in state incentives is away from state excise tax exemptions that promote use, toward producer credits that promote production.

Air quality regulations based on the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 requiring oxygenated fuels for carbon monoxide reduction and oxygenated reformulated gasoline for ground-level ozone (smog) reduction strongly support ethanol use in specific geographic markets. State actions to limit MTBE use (19 as of May 2004) also encourage ethanol use. Also, the alternative-fuel-vehicle requirements of the Energy Policy Act of 1992 support purchase of flexible-fuel vehicles capable of using E85 by federal and state fleets, though they stop short of requiring its use in those vehicles.

As of early 2004, Congressional proposals for a renewable fuel standard mandating that a gradually increasing percentage of automotive fuel be ethanol or other renewable fuel have been included in major energy bills several times over the past couple years, but none have passed both houses yet. Enactment of a program along these lines could be expected to be a great boost to ethanol production. Any sort of "carbon tax" or other promotion of renewable energy generally would likely also help ethanol.

A U.S. Department of Agriculture program, (Farm Service Agency/Commodity Credit Corporation Bioenergy Program) supports increased biofuels production from commodity purchases strongly supporting new production capacity of biofuels. The $150 million per year maximum program makes cash payments to compensate for a portion of increased biomass feedstock purchases to bioethanol and biodiesel producers based on their increased production. Payments in the first three quarters of FY 2003 were credited with increasing ethanol production by 414 million gallons and biodiesel by 12 million gallons. General agriculture programs that promote crop production also support biofuels production from those crops or their residues.

New with the 2002 Farm Bill (Agriculture Risk Protection Act of 2000 as amended by the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002) is a U.S. Department of Agriculture Value-Added Development Grant program that provides grants to independent producers, agricultural producer groups, farmer or rancher cooperatives, or majority-controlled producer-based business ventures that are developing new businesses — including producing renewable energy such as biofuels — that process or otherwise expand the market for and produce greater revenue from agricultural products. Nearly 200 projects received funding under the program in 2003, including 27 biofuels related projects. $14 million for grants of up to $150,000 each are available for 2005. Applications are due May 6, 2005.

Because financing capital construction is a key hurdle for biofuels production facilities—particularly for advanced bioethanol production from cellulosic materials—any rural or industrial development programs can be of great help, as well. 

Can you suggest contacts to help me build an ethanol or biodiesel plant or undertake another biomass project?

As a government laboratory, we cannot really recommend any particular companies to help with biofuels projects. A good place to start, however, is with the members of the industry trade associations. For ethanol, look at the associate members of the membership/links list of the Renewable Fuels Association or the Ethanol Consultants/Ethanol Plant Builders pages of the American Coalition for Ethanol. Also, BBI International publishes an Ethanol Plant Development Handbook, which, in addition to discussing considerations for building an ethanol plant, includes a listing of providers for the ethanol industry. The Illinois "Ethanol Pre-feasibility Evaluator" may help you assess prospects for an ethanol project. You can also check our Theoretical Ethanol Yield Calculator for the potential ethanol production from various starch and cellulosic feedstocks. For Biodiesel, check the "related links" page of the National Biodiesel Board. The Renewable Energy Policy Project has an extensive list of companies working with biomass gasification/power production.

* Thanks to the Department of Energy and State of Texas for some of the information provided on this page. 


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