August 15, 2004 | General


Editorial BioCycle August 2004, Vol. 45, No. 8, p. 4

As we prepare the final agenda for the BioCycle Fourth Annual Conference on Renewable Energy From Organics Recycling, we are again reminded how much time is needed to change the status quo. In this instance, one “status quo” that needs changing is the excessive reliance on imported oil. A session at the Conference – to be held November 8-10, 2004 in Des Moines, Iowa – will tackle this specific challenge: “Why Anaerobic Digestion Is Not Being Adopted More Widely.” Representatives will participate in finding the answer from the utility industry, farm lending institutions and dairy farmers.
Another analysis of how to rev up the biomass energy industry will be presented by Luc DeBaere, Managing Director of Organic Waste Systems in Belgium, which currently has four digester plants under construction (three in Germany and one in Spain). His topic will be: “Comparing Markets for Anaerobic Digestion Systems in North America and Europe.” DeBaere will discuss attitudes toward digester systems that affect their purchase; How European and American markets differ, and how they are similar; and Forecasts for the next five years.
Clearly, there has been progress in the implementation of projects that turn methane into electricity, waste grease into biodiesel (see “Biodiesel Partnership,” p. 48), landfill gas into liquid fuels and more. This issue (p. 62) reports on how the Straus Family Creamery in California, an organically operated dairy owned by Albert Straus, is generating up to 600,000 kWh/year from an anaerobic digester system – saving $6,000/month in energy costs. There are almost 2,000 commercial dairies in California with over two million cows. The Straus digester is the fifth in the state with 13 more under construction – all receiving matching funds from the California Energy Commission. Other benefits – the digester will prevent tons of greenhouse gases from dispersing to the atmosphere and eliminate close to 99 percent of pollutants from the wastewater.
Our goal for this year’s Renewable Energy Conference in Des Moines is to accelerate the pace of development to replace excessive reliance on foreign oil and other nonrenewable fuel sources with more homegrown, renewable power. Toward that objective, speakers like Fred Kuzel – chair of the Great Lakes Regional Biomass Energy Program – will offer a “Roadmap for Biomass-to-Energy Strategies” with directions to the critical “change agents.” David Specca of the Rutger’s EcoComplex in New Jersey will cite the amazing results from using landfill gas and microturbines for production of liquid fuels, vermicompost, tilapia and tomatoes. The status of on-farm digester systems will be described by Joe Kramer of Resource Strategies and Richard Mattocks of Environomics. Leslie Cooperband will offer first-hand data on saving energy in organic agriculture with compost and soil organic matter, while the entrepreneurial role in creating green power will be well represented by Linda Iverson and her company’s wet waste recovery system. They – and we – are all part of what’s needed to more quickly “Power Our Way to a Renewable Energy Future.” – J.G.
Energy Independence at
BioCycle wants your input. Log on to the Energy Independence page at and share the “barrel of oil equivalents” of your organics recycling, composting or renewable energy initiatives. Chuck Henry of the University of Washington inaugurated the page by calculating the net barrels of fuel generated via a biosolids recycling program. Join BioCycle in helping to showcase the power in organics recovery.

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