Thursday, November 12, 2009


No, not the California Highway Patrol*. I'm talking about Combined Heat and Power. Mike at the Big Stick blogged an entry about nuclear power, to which I replied:
I think there are current applications such as combined heat and power that will serve us immediate benefits. Oak Ridge National Laboratories recently put out a report where they state in their executive summary:
Combined Heat and Power (CHP) solutions represent a proven and effective near-term energy option to help the United States enhance energy efficiency, ensure environmental quality, promote economic growth, and foster a robust energy infrastructure.
It’s also hugely underutilized.
I was quoting from the ORNL document entitled COMBINED HEAT AND POWER: Effective Energy Solutions for a Sustainable Future which can be found here (PDF, 38 pages).

If you go through the document, you'll come to page 35 and the section What Fuels Does CHP Use? The beauty of these systems is that they're open-ended. Just about anything that can be burned can be utilized for CHP. You can run it on natural gas, but you can also run it off of land-fill gases, rubber and plastics, and better yet ... biomass. We have tons of biomass, especially excess wood. This is an issue that Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack addressed early on after his appointment.

Right now the US Forestry service is hampered from doing anything but primarily fighting fires. That is not their only mission, but it is the one which they are straddled with. Part of the problem is, there is little money to clean up wood residue in forests, which serve as great kindling for future fires. Since it is so good for kindling, it would also be a great source of energy for CHP. Get enough CHP plants and the government could license forested areas to those companies to harvest all that woody biomass. That would decrease the potential for future fires, would provide an additional source of funding for the US Forestry service (to research how to effectively and efficiently provide CHP plants with sustainable woody biomass), and would cut down on the expense to the average citizen. Forest fires increase insurance rates, divert tax money from other programs to fund fire fighting, and probably increase taxes to ensure that they money in future years will exist to fight those fires. To me, it seems like a total win-win situation.

We need to let our Senators and Representatives know that we know of an excellent energy source, that is environmentally friendly, that will give us a huge degree of energy independence, and that can be put online almost immediately ... if they move us in the proper direction. Send them a link to this document as well.

*I don't own a pair of Estrada sunglasses.

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