GreenYes Archives
[GreenYes Home] - [Thread Index] - [Date Index]
[Date Prev] - [Date Next] - [Thread Prev] - [Thread Next]

Re: [greenyes] Rewewable Energy Standard
Biomass definitions have the potential to harm recycling above and
beyond just landfill gas.  Under some definitions, biomass can include
many forms of waste wood and paper, removing incentives to recycle
rather than burn the materials.  Waste-to-energy are also in rare cases
brought up for inclusion, though I don't think have been successfully

Many of the items included in biomass definitions encourage stripping
agricultural sites bare for energy conversion, rather than composting
biomass crop residue in situ.  This can harm long-term soil fertility. 
In addition, it often worsens the competitive position of small farms
relative to large ones, since those most able to meet the economies of
scale necessary to generate electricity from many of these "boutique"
biomass waste streams are large corporate farms.

In summary, encouragement of biomass energy is not a bad goal, but one
that must be pursued extremely carefully.  Unlike "wind" or "solar,"
biomass encompasses a wide range of sources, some of which harm
recycling and/or the environment.

For an overview of these issues based on federal legislation introduced
last year (many of the issues remain the same), see: 

For details on the study Peter mentioned below, see: 

Note that the actual subsidy magnitude varies from state-to-state
depending on how they have structured their renewable portfolio
standard.  Competition among providers also mean that the subsidy rate
changes over time (hopefully falling).

-Doug Koplow

Doug Koplow
Earth Track, Inc.
2067 Massachusetts Avenue - 4th Floor
Cambridge, MA  02140
Tel:  617/661-4700
Fax: 617/354-0463

>>> "Peter Anderson" <anderson@no.address> 05/09/03 12:54PM >>>
Lorrie Ogren and Bob got into an exchange about the issue of whether a
Renewable Energy Standard should be put into the pending energy
if "biomass" is included as one eligible forms of "renewable" energy.

"Biomass" has been interpreted and defined in different ways in
bills and programs. Sometimes it has been defined to be "closed loop,"
limits it to recovery of energy from plantings specifically for energy
recovery.  Other times it has been defined to include landfill gas.

This is an important issue because, under those state programs that
the fact energy recovery from landfill gas is cheaper than from wind,
resulted in far more of the total compliance with the RES has been met
landfills than from real solar/wind renewables.

Not only does this not advance real renewables (there is no way wasted
resources in landfills can properly be called "renewable"), but also
effectively subsidizes disposal at the expense of recycling.

For all of these reasons, it is very important that recyclers
communicate to
their environmental collegues that landfill gas is neither renewable,
nor an
appropriate item to include under the RES umbrella.

Otherwise the admirable concept of renewable energy will be bootlegged
the abate one more financial nail in recycling's coffin.


ps. Economic analyses by Doug Koplow suggests that the subsidy that
from these green portfolios that RES programs create are greater than
parallel subsidies for tax credits for landfill gas.


[GreenYes Home] - [Date Index] - [Thread Index]
[Date Prev] - [Date Next] - [Thread Prev] - [Thread Next]