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Most of the time when we speak of biomass in Alaska we are talking about wood- and usually for purposes of space heat.  Grasses, brush and even peat may be included yet we mostly are talking about trees as cord wood or chip/pellets as the feed stock for ‘biomass’ projects.  In Ireland however, they are talking of a whole different feedstock. Waste in the form of a slurry are being considered.

In the next couple months Ireland looks to begin its ‘REFIT’ program (renewable energy feed-in tariff scheme).  With a large agricultural sector,  slurry reserves may be answer to their goals.  Come 2020, if the country isn’t producing about a sixth of its energy from renewables, they are looking at massive fines.  They have already invested in wind and solar and are near they’re renewable benchmarks for electricity….yet heat goals still need to be met- and other EU nations have probably met their goals through biogas plants that digest waste from farm fields and barns.  The gasses can be collected and used for heat combustion. Britain, Sweden, and Germany have been taking advantage of this type of ‘waste energy’ (methane) as a part of their renewable cluster.

As an example, in Ireland a farm with 75,000 pigs additional revenues can be made  from the gate fees charged for taking in food wastes (which may be from discarded good stuffs from restaurants, grocery stores and other farms) as well as waste from animal processing plants. The food is then digested in an oxygen absent environment and it can be captured on the farm while being run through combined heat and power combustion unit.  Other produced methane can be passed along if network piping is in place- similar to the electric grid.  Possibly not possible to build out to the scale required on homestead sites in Alaska, it has been an option looked at for those communities that have seasonal stock of wastes from fish processing plants- (especially now that the EPA has put regulations on dumping such wastes in the ocean).

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