"Cash Cow" in The Energy Market?

Discussion in 'Economy' started by Adam's Apple, Jan 26, 2006.

  1. Adam's Apple

    Adam's Apple Senior Member

    Apr 25, 2004
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    Texas could literally clean up--no more manure dumps.

    Farmer Finds a Cash Cow in His Herd's Droppings
    By Dennis Lien, St. Paul Pioneer Press
    January 23, 2006

    Dennis Haubenschild's 900 dairy cows produce a lot of manure. But that manure, after going through a conversion process at his farm, also produces a lot of captured energy.

    As part of a new greenhouse-gas trading system that rewards operations that reduce airborne emissions, Haubenschild is earning thousands of dollars a year from large companies and public institutions that can't cut pollution as much as they have promised. As the only Minnesota farmer doing this, he predicted other Midwestern farms will welcome the extra money stream and help blunt the effects of global warming.

    "All businesses have to be sustainable,'' said Haubenschild, who runs the 54-year-old family farm with his two sons. "We have to lessen the footprint we are leaving on Mother Earth.''

    Seven years ago, Haubenschild installed an anaerobic digester system, which converts methane-creating manure into electricity that is sold to a local utility. Methane is one of many greenhouse gases building up in the atmosphere, contributing to a 1-degree increase in the Earth's average temperature over the past century.

    For five years, Haubenschild had a contract with a utility that covered the digester's operating costs. But when it expired and he found another outlet that paid less, he looked to the Chicago Climate Exchange, North America's only voluntary, legally binding greenhouse-gas reduction and trading system.

    In just under three years, 130 private and public institutions such as Ford Motor Co., IBM, the state of New Mexico and the University of Minnesota have joined it, committing to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions that trap the sun's heat. Those that can't meet an established emissions-reduction goal must buy pollution credits from members that exceed the goal.

    "It really provides a financial incentive for people to do it,'' said Richard Sandor, chairman and chief executive of the exchange.

    Because Haubenschild Farms is too small to join the exchange, it needed another way to participate. Enter Environmental Credit Corp. of Pennsylvania, which is a member of the exchange and has begun signing up U.S. farms.

    "We think we are on the cutting edge of an emerging market that is going to be very significant,'' said Ed Heslop, chief executive for Environmental Credit. "With that, we are talking about tens of millions of dollars of opportunity to be returned to farmers.''

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  2. Hobbit

    Hobbit Senior Member

    Mar 25, 2004
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    Near Atlanta, GA
    Bolded portion is the only part of the article that I have a problem with. A "1 degree increase" is rounding up to the nearest degress, but let's say it's precise and that the entire increase was caused by greenhouse gasses (which is quite a stretch, considering increased sun activity among other things). If that was all true, then methane would be responsible for raising our temperature a whole .005 degrees over a whole century, and that's all methane. Man is only responsible for about 20-30% of that.[/rant on global warming]

    Sounds interesting. Using cow pies as a new source of energy seems lucrative, since as long as people like me chow down on tasty, tasty beef, there will always be an abundance of cow pies.

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