Every day, we and our natural world create food and crop residues, sewage waste products, biomass that either just occurs wild or is specifically grown, manures both green or animal-generated, and organics of all kinds that simply break down into basic elements. Much of that decomposition creates methane, which wafts into the atmosphere and contributes to greenhouse gas loading. Meanwhile, we dig, drill, blast, frack, quake earth, inject valuable fresh water and toxic chemicals, transport long distances, and move mountains to find the same thing — methane, from millions of years ago. What’s wrong with this picture ?
Now realize that we have the technology to speed up the transformation of organics to biogas by anaerobic digestion, or breakdown in a vessel without oxygen, within our state and in an abundant and renewable manner. This methane can be used within existing or upgraded local infrastructure to provide constant, baseload energy to supplement wind and solar energy. Offshore wind energy will soon be tapped to help realize New Jersey’s potential for self-reliance in energy production. Solar energy continues to grow in usage not only in homes and businesses, but also through community investment in a hyperlocal approach. Efficiency programs have proved time and time again that incentive programs provide lasting benefits in multiples of returned savings.
Certainly, landfill gas reclamation has demonstrated there is a tremendous potential to use the product of organic decomposition. This is a kind of “first generation” way of getting to this resource. By source separation before all of this material gets “glommed” together, a much cleaner and usable product can be attained. Biomass can be as local as we want it to be; including materials from farms, forests, home landscapes, invasive plant removal etc., creating local jobs and a pathway to getting back to a more native and sustainable ecosystem.
New Jersey also has tremendous power potential in the ocean tides and other of its dynamics, in addition to our wind resources. Advances have been made in waste to energy production through more complete and controlled plasma gasification and combustion.
There will be plenty of new advances as we break the fossil fuel compulsion. Battery storage and grid improvement, as well as continued emphasis on efficiency at all levels, will get us in the ballpark of a cleaner energy future. Since we are rated currently as the most climate-change affected state in the U.S., we have an imperative to take definitive action right now.