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What is bioenergy? It is a power or heat source that recently has been ‘alive’ (bio).  Not solar, not from the wind, not created from combustion of fossil fuels (that were ‘alive’ years ago….). You can get energy from oils extracted from seeds, crushed canola, algae, fish waste, manure, wood, etc….   Some of these sources make sense in using on location, such as a canola farmer crushing the crop in the barn to make a liquid that can be run in his/her tractor.  Others may be used miles away such as trees drug out of the forest and trucked hundreds of miles away.

In any case, one of the advantages- depending on the grow back rate- is that fuels can be collected within the region and thus extractors can take revenues and end up spending them somewhat locally. Conversely, when far off fossil fuels are used the money spend usually is far removed from the location of use.  Extraction may be up on the Alaskan slope, transportation companies may be from out of state, and refining of the crude for refined local use will probably be out of the state and maybe even country (before the fuel is brought back to Alaska to be burned).

One of the attractions of bioenergy is that on the books of carbon accounting, several fuels are considered ‘carbon neutral’ as regrowth can happen to replace what is combusted.  Some individuals also help to reduce trash waste by collecting used vegetable oil from the fryers of cafeterias and restaurants and using it in vehicles or heaters with little adaptation.  What do you have on your property or in your community that could be utilized?  How much would it take to process and refine?  Finally, how much fossil fuels could you replace with what is at hand?  Check it out, and keep on burning!

 

 

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