BioCycle November 2008, Vol. 49, No. 11, p. 4
Exciting Times At 8th Annual BioCycle Energy Conference
IN early October, BioCycle held its 8th Annual Conference on Renewable Energy From Organics Recycling in Madison, Wisconsin. This was our largest renewable energy conference to date, with over 300 attendees and close to 40 exhibits on the trade show floor. Sessions ran the gamut, with a great deal of interest in all topics covered. On Wednesday, October 8th, the weather held and we were able to view a modified unit harvesting corn stover and the corn simultaneously, and tour several farm digester projects.
While the BioCycle Conference was taking place, the ongoing global financial meltdown was progressing and news headlines were pessimistic. But inside the hotel, there was a great deal of optimism, along with an eagerness to learn from the experiences of others and make important connections to move projects ahead. Not much gloom and doom was coming from the speaker podiums. Instead, exciting research findings, operating project data, financing and investment details, market opportunities, available systems and technologies and much more were discussed. Speaker presentations can be found on the Conference page of the BioCycle website, www.biocycle.net.
One of the most memorable takeaways from the 8th Annual Conference is that companies, government agencies, equipment suppliers, nonprofits, consultants and investors are all “doing,” and not only “talking.” Despite tight budgets, states and local government are still making grant funds available and working through regulations and permits that will make it easier to develop projects. Companies and developers continue to take risks, because there is way more upside than downside. Markets look promising for tapping natural gas pipelines with upgraded digester biogas. Wastewater treatment plants are generating more electricity and revenues by adding fats, oils, grease and other food waste to their digesters. A new GIS mapping tool helps identify biomass fuel sources. Codigestion projects are on the rise around the country. Things are happening. People are doing what is doable, not what is impossible! These are exciting times for Renewable Energy From Organics Recycling!
It was inspiring, in the opening plenary and throughout the two days of sessions, to witness the innovation and problem solving going on. John Vrieze of Baldwin and Emerald Dairies in Wisconsin, described the development of a dedicated pipeline that can receive biogas from a number of farms as it makes its way to power generating stations or natural gas pipelines. Bernice Chapman of Waste Solutions Ltd. in New Zealand described a project producing bioenergy from ethanol distillery wastewater. Increasing numbers of products are utilizing manure fibers as part of their composite materials. Greater numbers of farm digesters are boosting biogas performance by taking off-farm substrates, and figuring out the best approaches to handle and pretreat these materials.
Articles in this and upcoming issues will feature conference presentations. And soon, we will be announcing sessions and special events at the BioCycle International Conference 2009, April 27-30 in San Diego, California, where we also will be celebrating BioCycle’s 50th Anniversary (www.biocycle50.com). Join us to experience the excitement, momentum and optimism flowing from the composting, organics recycling and renewable energy industries. Nora Goldstein