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Energy Production Carbon Cycle
Energy Production Carbon Cycle

Using waste biomass instead of fossil fuels to generate electricity can potentially reduce the level of CO2 in the atmosphere.
Here are a few hypothetical case studies, based on some of our actual installations, as examples.


 

USE CASE 1:

A small fishing and farming community on a remote Pacific island in the Philippine archipelago is using 10-year-old gasoline gensets to power their water desalinzation plant for drinking water for their community of 1000 [?] and to make ice to allow them to ship their catch to market on a larger island.

palawanThese uses amount to about a 15 kW load, [?] which they power for roughly 6 hrs per day. They burn about 1.5 gal of gas per hour to make that power, so at the $5/gal gas costs there, they are spending about $.50 /kWh. In addition to that, each gallon of gas produces about 20 lbs of CO2 as exhaust, so they are adding about 90 lbs of CO2 to the atmosphere each day.

Coconut shells
Their main agricultural product is coconuts, which results in a large waste byproduct stream of coconut shells, which are a good biomass feedstock for a Power Pallet. That same load in that same time running on biomass? would produce about [?nearly the same amount?] of CO2 in its exhaust. This CO2, unlike that released by burning gasoline, had been pulled out of the atmosphere recently as the tree used it to made the woody shell for its coconut fruit. This means the CO2 exhaust is at worst, carbon neutral in a strict process bounding that does not account for the transportation of the shells and the impact of their alternate outcomes, or the lifecycle of the Power Pallet itself.

But, there is also about 5% of the carbon in the shell that is a waste byproduct of the gasification in the form of biochar, which they can turn into their soil where it will be effectively sequestered for the foreseeable future. Here the Power Pallet can be installed at the coconut processing plant, meaning there is no penalty for transportation and no cost for the shells, which are otherwise a waste stream that needs to be hauled away [?] to be used to make cooking charcoal [?], which would itself be burned, and its Carbon re-released

[table id=29 /]


 

USE CASE 2:

Rubber Tree Plantation

A rural agricultural town in subsaharan Africa has never been connected to its country’s power grid. Commercial enterprises related to their agricultural processing and larger social institutions have independently generated power with diesel gensets, and most of the residential and small commercial sites have either had no electricity or used small portable generators.

RubberTapping
The load at a large agricultural college is about 25 kW[?] , for which they run their diesel genset about 10 hrs per day, which consumes about [?] liters of diesel, and at the $4/gal diesle costs there, they are spending about $.40 /kWh. In addition to that, each gallon of diesel produces about 20 lbs [?] of CO2 as exhaust, so they are adding about [?] kg of CO2 to the atmosphere each day.

Their agricultural byproduct is from the clearing of rubber trees that have exhausted their productive lives. These trees, when chipped, make a good feedstock for a Power Pallet. Installing two PP20s and running them 10 hrs per day would reduce their CO2 output from [?] to [?]. The rubber trees have no cost, as the plantation owners are happy to have help removing the trees, which would otherwise be burned of left to rot near  where they were cut. The transportation cost, which given the shipping distance of [?] km results in a penalty of [?] carbon.

[table id=29 /]


 

USE CASE 3:

A community group sets up a small microgrid on a Caribbean island with the goal of building a self-sustaining enterprise to sell small units of power to the inhabitants of a small rural community. No other gird power is available and most of the homes have no power and use kerosene for lighting and charcoal for cooking. Residential customers use 100’s of watts of power, small commercial customers will use a few 1000 to run refrigeration to sell cold drinks or ice cream or to [?…]. If these are existing businesses the grid will be displacing small gasoline gensets.

corn haiti

Since this power is going into what is largely and energy vacuum there is none of the benefit of a fossil- fuel offsets, where the power generated displaces some equivalent amount of carbon positive emission. Here the use of electricity may cause an overall increase in an individual’s carbon footprint. However even the displacement of kerosene for lighting and charcoal for cooking can result in a net gain.

corn cobs

Corn, or Maize as Caribbean farmers know it, is one of the biggest crops on the island, and the majority of it is consumed locally as food rather than going into a biofuel. The farmers are happy to have a market for their cobs, which would other wise be at best compost [?]. The power plant operator pays [?] for the cobs, and since they would have been used as compost, facing some anaerobic decomposition, they can add a [?] for methane and CO2 released during that process. Here the farmers pick up the waste biochar and add it to their soil along with the sotver which they plow under, and which provides ample organic matter for soil fertility despite the removal of the cobs from the compost.
[table id=29 /]
 


 

Note that to actually calculate the real carbon impact of any particular use case requires considerable collection and analysis of data. For that reason these have been simplified into hypothetical cases so that we can set reasonable and consistent values rather than collecting possibly dynamic data. As our resources permit, we will begin to add real third party life Cycle analyses here, but for now, these hypotheticals can give a good picture of what the general parameters of a carbon footprint will look like

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