Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Plugging the Biomass Hole: DOD Opportunities in the SE

Chad Lowe in SF Sentinel
Just finished up at the at the International Biomass Conference and Expo in Denver.  Over a thousand participants and dozens of companies were on hand to learn about and display the latest in biomass/biogas technologies and techniques.  I had the high honor and priviledge of keynoting the event, but more importantly, I got to learn a lot about a grossly underutilized, non intermittent, renewable source of energy.  While most of DOD's energy efforts have been in the southwest where the sun shines in low humidity and the wind doth blow, the southeast has not recieved the same attention.  At the base level commanders have been working hard to meet mandates and requirements, but the tools available to their brethern in the west have not served them as well.  Time to think biomass!

Although the conference was generally upbeat, various biomass trade organizations took to the stage to lament the inaction in Washington, D.C. that has resulted in the lapsing of investment tax credits and production tax credits that have served to level the playing field.  Now before you start slinging your "government shouldn't pick winners" stones, let's reflect on other fledgling industries for whom those same credits are not expiring entities but matters of fixed law (think coal and oil).  If you are a small business owner who has sat across from banks and investors who were reluctant to invest because, "we just don't know what the government is going to do" then you may feel free to engage on the topic.  If you are in the coal or oil industry, I will drop mine when you drop yours. 

The inactivity of our government to set energy policy or even act to preserve American industries and jobs is somewhat balanced by DOD's very agressive posture in energy.  Some of my closest friends,  who I respect immensly, have taken me to task regarding this point. "DOD is not in the green energy business" they say.  I agree.  They are in the mission accomplishment business.  That mission is to deter agression and, if that fails, fight and win our Nation's wars.  If oil cannot be used as an economic weapon against us, that is a form of detering agression.  If bases can access locally fueled energy sources which operate regardless of the public grid status, then the reach back capability so vital to our current way of waging war is perserved.  I would love it if Exxon or other "energy" folks were creating demand for biofuels; but they are not.  If DOD creates the demand, it is not just a "greenie" thing but a strategic effort to counter our dependence on a commodity we don't control (or set the price for, Newt).  By the same token, only grid tied, but independent energy for bases is true energy security.  It ain't a green thing; its a national security thing.  Dan Nolan


Paul Baker said...

"If oil cannot be used as an economic weapon against us, that is a form of deterring aggression." You make a strong case with that statement that the Keystone Pipeline approval would be consistent with the goals of the DoD, as it would reduce our oil dependence from nations that have proven in the past to use oil as a weapon against us. Unfortunately, since the goal is really a Green subsidy with a thin veneer of defense policy, this will not occur.

Anonymous said...

"From our cellulose waste products on the farm such as straw, corn-stalks, corn cobs and all similar sorts of material we throw away, we can get, by present known methods, enough alcohol to run our automotive equipment in the United States"

ceser john said...

Biomass energy comes from the biological matter and residues of plants or animals either living or recently living organisms, which can be used for energy generation. I ma very happy to find this type of blog.
biogas e biomasse