FISCAL YEAR 2010 ANNUAL REPORT
Building a renewable energy landscape in Wisconsin and beyond Our Mission Created in 2007 by the University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, the Wisconsin Bioenergy Initiative seeks to cultivate bioenergy expertise among UW-Madison, UW-System and Wisconsin stakeholders to anchor the innovative research that is being conducted within our great state. We are a university-based coalition that helps the talent across Wisconsin create, commercialize and promote bio-based solutions.
LETTER FROM THE DIRECTOR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 BIOENERGY RESEARCH . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 CONNECTING POLICY TO SCIENCE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11 DEMONSTRATION PROJECTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 OUTREACH AND EDUCATION. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 OPERATIONS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
DEMONSTRATING WISCONSIN’S BIOENERGY EXPERTISE
ecent environmental disasters and a lack of comprehensive climate legislation have proven that now more than ever, we must find alternative fuel sources that can be replenished to reduce our dependence on the finite supply of fossil fuels Troy Runge, WBI Director like coal and petroleum. Gone are the days when we didn’t consider questions like “how much,” “from where,” or “at what cost?” In these trying times, we must return to our roots and develop energy options from readily available, renewable resources. Growing our economy in a sustainable way is one of the greatest challenges of our time. Accelerating the development of bioenergy to replace our dependence on fossil fuels is key to meeting this challenge.
widespread biomass planting and harvesting could benefit Wisconsin’s water quality, wildlife habitats and agricultural sectors by expanding markets for agricultural products, creating jobs and reducing reliance on non-renewable fuels. Wisconsin’s availability of natural resources, its legacy of industry leadership in agriculture, forestry and manufacturing, and the world-class research taking place in our backyard combine to poise our state on the leading edge of bioenergy discovery.
“Growing our economy in a sustainable way In 2007, the UW-Madison is one of the greatest College of Agricultural and Life challenges of our Sciences created the Wisconsin time. Accelerating Bioenergy Initiative (WBI) to serve as a catalyst to building a the development of bioeconomy in our home state, bioenergy to replace the Midwest and beyond. In less than three years, we have our dependence taken major strides toward on fossil fuels is positioning Wisconsin as a leader key to meeting this in bioenergy research, education and innovation. challenge.”
In 2008, Wisconsin spent a record $23.5 billion on energy, and costs continue to rise. The state has no coal, oil or natural gas – yet we continue to purchase energy from external sources. As research and investments in renewable energy continue to emerge, it is clear that there are vast stores of energy everywhere we look. Historically, the agricultural and forestry industries have taken advantage of these powerful stores of energy. Just two years ago, 92 percent of the state’s renewable energy came from bioenergy. Continuing to harness the potential of homegrown energy and building a bioeconomy in the state would mean more investment in our local economy. Developing
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Our research in biological and thermochemical conversions, biomass production, improved plants, and environmental and economic impacts is representative of the science required in bioenergy discovery. A major focus of our work this year was leading national faculty searches to increase UW-Madison’s depth of bioenergy research expertise. Our multidisciplinary recruiting efforts have secured five additional faculty members in biological systems engineering, bacteriology, agriculture and applied economics, genetics, geography and the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. Additional faculty recruitment is underway.
OUR APPROACH Demonstration Projects
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Strengthening the connection between applied energy research and public policy is integral to growing the bioeconomy in Wisconsin. Last November, we hired Midwest Energy Policy Analysis Director Gary Radloff to monitor and analyze energy policies and legislative initiatives to help guide research and policy efforts in the state. Gary has initiated several projects that continue the important work he did in shaping emerging bioenergy industries during his tenure at the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.
of a University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension course on biomass contracting, contributed to programs for bioenergy educators and partipated in more than 50 presentations and speaking engagements. Recognizing our commitment to training future bioenergy leaders, we have assembled a working group tasked with creating an interdisciplinary renewable energy certificate at UW-Madison. We will continue to increase bioenergy curriculum efforts in 2011.
Creating a flourishing bioenergy industry requires more than research and public policy initiatives. We have strategically chosen demonstration projects that are fostering the development of a biomass supply chain, determining appropriate sustainable biomass harvesting guidelines, and connecting stakeholders and resources necessary to urge private investment and commercialization. In the future, we will continue to seek and promote Wisconsin-based demonstration projects that prove the viability of biomass-to-energy fuels.
In our laboratories, fields and forests, we are doing the work to develop homegrown energy throughout Wisconsin. In the future, the WBI will continue in its mission to train future leaders, stimulate the stateâ€™s economy and demonstrate Wisconsinâ€™s bioenergy expertise. I look forward to further increasing our capacity for research, policy efforts, demonstration projects, and outreach and education over the coming year.
Increasing public awareness through outreach and education is imperative to addressing the energy challenge that lies before us. In addition to hosting the annual Wisconsin Bioenergy Summit conference, we have sponsored the development
Troy Runge Director Wisconsin Bioenergy Initiative
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BREAKING DOWN BIOMASS: A CHALLENGE TO BIOFUELS A fundamental challenge to biofuel production lies within the delicate biological makeup of plants. Valuable glucose molecules – the sugars that are key ingredients for energy from biomass – are deep within the plant cell walls. The glucose is locked within cellulose microfibrils and rigidly protected by lignin, the tough coating that protects cellulose and hemicellulose from enzymes that could convert the glucose into biofuels. Accessing those sugars is a major step toward producing renewable biofuels. From thermochemical and biological conversion to improved plant processing, our researchers are taking a variety of approaches to understand the complex makeup of biomass feedstocks and looking for efficient, cost-effective ways to access plants’ stores of glucose.
Cell wall: A tough, but flexible layer that provides plant structure
Cellulose: The most abundant biological material on earth, consisting of tightly-bound sugar chains
Microfibrils: Strong, cable-like structures that reinforce cell walls
Glucose: A six-carbon sugar that can be converted to biofuels, found within microfibril’s sugar chains
Hemicellulose: A mix of sugars that surrounds cellulose
Lignin: A non-carbohydrate polymer that surrounds and protects cellulose and hemicellulose
Cellulose Above image: U.S. Department of Energy Genome Programs http://genomics.energy.gov Left: UW-Madison student Nicholas Wipperfurth determines the gross calorific value of a biomass sample in Troy Runge’s lab. Photo by Pam Wipperfurth.
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CHARACTERIZING BIOMASS FEEDSTOCKS In addition to his role as WBI director, Troy Runge is an assistant professor in Biological Systems Engineering in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS). Working with graduate students, he has created a lab capable of characterizing biomass to assess thermochemical routes to create solid and liquid fuels. The group’s research takes a systems approach to investigate chemical and thermal treatments, allowing biomass to be more easily converted into solid or liquid fuels. Runge hopes to use techno-economic evaluation to confirm the sustainability of these processes. Currently, Runge’s research team is focusing on biorefinery systems that create the most value from biomass feedstocks and make both renewable fuels and materials.
Researchers are investigating diverse biomass processes by retrofitting pulp mills to produce fiber for paper and sugar for ethanol production, as well as fractionating biomass into a carbohydrate-rich component used for liquid fuel conversion and an energy dense material used for a combustion fuel. They are also working to create separate streams of furfural and levulinic acid that can be processed to create useful chemical compounds like plastic materials, or be catalytically processed into alkanes for fuel. Heavily applied in nature, Runge’s research utilizes collaboration with Wisconsin companies and directly relates to bioenergy projects happening outside the lab. Ultimately, the research could improve processes for biomass aggregation, storage and transportation.
WBI Director Troy Runge works to purify sugars extracted from a bioenergy crop. The remaining solid material was converted into fiber and characterized for paper-making potential. Photo by Pam Wipperfurth.
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DESIGNING PLANTS FOR IMPROVED PROCESSING UW-Madison Biochemistry Professor and Great Lakes Bioenergy Researcher John Ralph gives new meaning to the phrase “green thumb.” World-renowned lignin expert John Ralph is using a multi-faceted approach to research ways to break down biomass, release sugars and convert plants into biofuels. His lab is involved in a range of activities aimed at revealing plant cell wall chemistry and biochemistry. In particular, the research focuses on emerging transgenics and developing analytical and detailed structural methodologies for characterizing the cell wall and its components, delineating cell wall cross-linking mechanisms and effects, delineating the effects of various pretreatments on the cell wall and attempting to model lignin polymerization. To get a real picture of how the cell wall is put together, it must be studied as it naturally exists. Ralph and his team are using NMR – a piece of equipment that can provide detailed information on the topology, dynamics and three-dimensional structure of molecules – to develop a streamlined method for biomass whole-cell-wall structural profiling. NMR works on the same principles as an MRI machine; it uses radio waves to measure how the atoms that make up a molecule are attached to each other and how different molecules interact. Ralph and his colleagues are developing solid-state and high-resolution solution-state NMR methods to provide detailed structural profiling of cell wall
components in the entire cell wall material without having to fractionate or isolate the components, which would make them behave differently. Working with Michigan State University and the United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service, Ralph has found a gene that codes for an enzyme that makes monolignol ferulate conjugates. These create a different chemical bond in the lignin backbone. The new chemical bonds, called esters, are easier to break apart. Introducing them into the plant cell will be like creating molecular zippers within the cell walls. The gene for this enzyme is targeted for introducing easily breakable “zips” into the lignin polymer to more easily allow pretreatment and pulping. The team has begun to introduce the gene into model plants. Ralph is also studying Ammonia Fiber Expansion (AFEX), a biomass pretreatment that uses concentrated ammonia at pressures high enough to turn the gas into a liquid. Once biomass has been pressure-cooked in ammonia, the rapid release of pressure causes the ammonia liquid to spontaneously form a gas. The process essentially depolymerizes cellulose, breaking the polymer into its building blocks. This increases the solubility of other cell wall components (lignin and hemicellulose), making everything more accessible to enzymes that can further break it down. The ultimate goal is to more efficiently access the sugars that are deep within plant biomass. A prolific thought-leader in the field of lignin research, Ralph shares his findings through public presentations and academic seminars around the country.
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CROPPING SYSTEMS ECOLOGY AND BIOMASS CROPS UW-Madison Agronomy Professor Chris Kucharik is conducting fieldwork on cropping systems ecology and performing ecosystem modeling to understand the impacts of climate change and agricultural land management on crop production, water quantity and quality, carbon sequestration and climate regulation. With the help of colleagues at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Iowa State University, the University of Minnesota and the University of Illinois, Kucharik is expanding an agroecosystem model to include new bioenergy cropping systems specific to the Midwest, like switchgrass, hybrid poplar and Miscanthus. This research is a step toward developing an estimate of the net ecosystem exchange of carbon, which will aid researchers in determining whether these ecosystems are sources of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Eventually the work could lead to a scale that could be applied to the entire Midwest. New field instrumentation with solar-powered data loggers at the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC) cropping system field trails at the UW-Madison Arlington Agricultural Research Station allows researchers to continuously measure soil moisture, temperature and incoming direct and diffused solar radiation to determine the effects of land use and climate associated with bioenergy crops. A portion of the high-tech equipment was purchased with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grants through the GLBRC. Kucharik and his team will continue to collect chamber-based measurements of carbon dioxide released from soil and leaf-level photosynthesis in poplar, switchgrass and continuous corn plots to
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Agronomy Professor Chris Kucharik with a solar-powered data logger that measures soil moisture and temperature. Photo by Falicia Hines.
better understand how biofuel cropping systems impact coupled carbon-water-energy exchange. The goal is to produce an estimate of the annual net ecosystem exchange of carbon. This will help them determine whether these ecosystems are net sources or sinks of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, and allow them to calibrate and validate numerical modeling tools to scale from the field level to a landscape or regional level. They will continue to evaluate modeling tools for biomass feedstocks Miscanthus and switchgrass across the Midwest. A frequent keynote speaker and guest lecturer, Kucharikâ€™s research has reached the ears of students and researchers throughout the Midwest. Expanding his work beyond Midwestern issues, Kucharik contributed to a National Academy of Sciences workshop panel discussion regarding connections between Gulf of Mexico hypoxia and expanding corn acreage planted for ethanol.
UNDERSTANDING CARBON FOOTPRINTS IN THE MIDWEST In conjunction with the Midwestern Governors Association’s working group on Low Carbon Fuel Standards, the WBI is helping facilitate conversations about greenhouse gases in hopes to reduce the carbon footprint of the Midwest. Working with the Great Plains Institute and the UW-Madison Energy Institute, WBI supported the development of a software program to better understand the life-cycle of transportation fuels. The leading tool for this type of assessment is Argonne National Laboratory’s GREET model (Greenhouse gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy use in Transportation). To augment this model, researchers developed the GREET Companion, a model linked to GREET that illustrates the underlying processes and calculations in a way that is easily decipherable. The GREET Companion illustrates precisely how carbon intensity results from GREET are calculated. The GREET Companion has been initially developed for conventional gasoline, reformulated gasoline, diesel, and ethanol. Preliminary development of a web-based simulation interface to perform sensitivity analysis has been initiated to serve as proof-of-concept. With continued work, the project aims to develop a web-based simulation interface that works with stakeholders to identify opportunities to reduce the carbon footprint of transportation fuels in the region. The UW-Madison Energy Institute is a meta-center that spans education, research and service activities on the UW-Madison campus. The Institute’s mission is to enhance and maintain Wisconsin’s national leadership in identifying
Created in 2006 in by an informal collaboration of faculty members actively engaged in energy research, the Energy Institute of Wisconsin integrates the many energy-related activities across the UW–Madison campus. By establishing connections and collaborations at UW, the Energy Institute provides a forum for exchange of ideas on energy issues while promoting collaboration with government and industry leaders to comprehensively address the energy challenge.
strategies for clean, efficient energy as a vehicle for continued economic growth for the state and nation. The WBI is currently working with the Energy Institute to develop an energy-related workforce development program for UW students. With a looming wave of retirements in the energy industry and a recognized need to use energy more sustainably, we hope to provide an important service to our economy by training the next generation of clean-energy experts. A major mechanism for this development is the creation of a new internship program. Students with demonstrated career interests in sustainable energy would be linked to potential employers interested in training students for the energyrelated skills that are in the greatest demand.
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CONNECTING POLICY TO SCIENCE
CLOSING THE GAP BETWEEN RESEARCH AND LEGISLATION Science-based policy around renewable energy development and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is critical to developing a bioeconomy. Likewise, researchers need to stay current on policy trends that could impact their work. As WBIâ€™s director of Midwest energy policy analysis, Gary Radloff has initiated several projects that will bridge the gap between the policy arena and research communities.
This fall, the WBI hosted a collaborative group of representatives from non-governmental organizations, private industry, the research community and the policy arena to discuss policy needs, identify gaps in available research and make recommendations for a strategic statewide plan for biogas development. The group expects to present its research and recommendations to policymakers in early 2011.
Biogas: Wisconsinâ€™s opportunity fuel
Though there are still hurdles to maximizing the use of methane digesters, Wisconsin is situated at the forefront of biogas production, and is poised to lead the way for other states in the coming years.
Although Wisconsin leads the nation with 30 methane digesters, there is still tremendous potential for developing biogas as a renewable energy option in the state. We are examining growth opportunities that exist within Wisconsinâ€™s landfills, 13,000 licensed dairy herds, food processing industry, and other businesses to create a statewide recommendation for strategies and public policy programs to capitalize on the emerging opportunity. Increasing the use of anaerobic digesters within the state could create policy incentives surrounding biogas development, including reduced greenhouse gas emissions, improved air quality, streamlined manure management, increased incomes for dairy farmers and enhanced rural economic development. Anaerobic digesters produce electricity, heat, gas for conversion to power or fuels, bedding, and fertilizer that can be used on the farm or sold offsite. Since Wisconsin obtains 69 percent of its electric energy from coal-fired generators, renewable energy options from sources like digesters are becoming increasingly appealing.
Biomass harvesting guidelines Without a doubt, ensuring that we do no harm to the land while utilizing biomass feedstocks is a key to success in bioenergy development. In fact, practicing sustainable harvesting and identifying proper biomass energy crops have the potential to enhance eco-system services on the landscape. The WBI is collaborating with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection to develop a basic set of acceptable harvesting practices and list practices that could be a higher standard for enhancing soils, water and wildlife habitat areas. The work involves an extensive literature review, prioritizing practices against different biomass feedstocks, then advancing these guidelines for public comment. The group will submit the biomass harvesting guidelines to the Wisconsin Bioenergy Council for review in early 2011.
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Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP)
The Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) is one of the most important pieces of federal policy to stimulate biomass renewable energy development. The WBI has been working with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) staff, congressional staff and various stakeholder groups to ensure that the rules to administer the program appropriately meet the original policy intent. The program was designed by Congress in the last Farm Bill to support agricultural producers in producing biomass crops and collecting biomass for sale to commercial-scale facilities that commit to use biomass to produce fuels or power. The program is also intended to improve water quality through reduced water use and surface water protection. Environmental quality can increase with less fertilizer use compared to traditional row crops and eventually encouraging the use of perennial crops, which are better for soil, water and wildlife. The program has two distinct pieces: 1) biomass crop establishment; and 2) assistance for the harvest, storage, processing and transportation of biomass materials for energy. Under the original Congressional intent, to participate in the biomass crop establishment part of the program, a group of farmers or a “biomass conversion facility” (any facility that will use the biomass to make biobased products or energy, heat, power, or advanced biofuels) must submit an application to USDA, defining the borders of the proposed production area and identifying the variety of biomass crop to be used at the facility. The application also must include a commitment from at least one biomass conversion facility in the area to use the biomass for their facility. All biomass production must occur on either agricultural land or industrial private forest land.
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BCAP Statutory Criteria: The amount of crops to be produced and the likelihood that they will actually be used to produce energy The amount of biomass likely to be available from sources other than the crops grown with support from BCAP The local economic impact of the project The opportunity for local investors to participate in the ownership of the facility The participation of beginning or socially disadvantaged farmers The environmental impacts of the proposal The variety of agronomic practices and species – including mixes of different crops – proposed within a BCAP area The range of crops across project areas The USDA will determine whether projects meet the minimum threshold for selection based on criteria in the statute and others to be determined by USDA. We will continue to monitor the rule-making process for BCAP and will work to interpret program updates and improvements throughout the coming year.
Low carbon fuel standard
A low carbon fuel standard (LCFS) is a policy designed to reduce the carbon intensity for transportation fuels as compared to conventional petroleum-based fuels. The WBI is collaborating with the UW-Madison Energy Insitute to assist the Midwest Governor’s Association in studying life
cycle analysis (LCA) tools that specifically look at several Midwest fuels. This fuel pathway analysis work allows the underlying assumptions for each fuel to be transparent and the calculation of carbon intensity to be clearer and verifiable. The main purpose of a low carbon fuel standard is to decrease carbon dioxide emissions associated with cars and truck transportation and considering the entire life cycle production. The WBI is looking to expand this work in the future.
National Academy of Science: Expanding Biofuel Production: Sustainability and the Transition to Advanced Biofuels. Lessons From the Midwest. The WBI assisted in editing and reviewing the National Research Council of the National Academies on Expanding Biofuel Productionâ€™s May 2010 report titled Sustainability and the Transition to Advanced Biofuels: Lessons from the Midwest. The document was a result of a two-day workshop in Madison that included representatives from the WBI, bioenergy researchers and policy makers from Wisconsin and the Midwest. The objective of the workshop was to inform local, state and federal decision makers and to suggest policies that could be developed to encourage more sustainable practices and to mitigate potentially adverse impacts on specific regions of the country as the U.S. transitions to the next generation of biofuels. The report raises important questions on biofuel productionâ€™s impact on water quality and quantity, soils, wildlife habitat and biodiversity, greenhouse gas emissions, air quality, public health, and the economic viability of rural communities.
The WBI and others are working with researchers studying and documenting the criteria and data to measure eco-system benefits and other standards of sustainability of biofuels. There is an increasing body of scientific research and knowledge around metrics for sustainability, but it is still an emerging field. Systems to track and measure metrics for sustainability will need to be adaptable to ongoing environmental and technological changes. Sustainability means we must not compromise the needs of future generations, and biofuel production must meet that challenge. The report is valuable as both a snapshot on where biofuels policy and research stand today and for framing ongoing questions and research needed to address the pathway to sustainability.
Midwest biomass working group The 12 Midwestern states have formed a collaborative project to share information and research, review public policy and develop networks on biomass to energy development in the region. Members provided a detailed review of the rules to implement the Federal BCAP Program. The group generated a 10-page analysis and comments on the rule, then submitted their review to the United States Department of Agriculture agency responsible for writing the rules. The working group also shared the materials with congressional leaders on agriculture and energy committees. The working group continues to look into other areas of importance to building a biomass infrastructure and supply chain. Some areas the group may review include crop insurance for producers of biomass energy crops, contracts for sale of biomass, renewable energy credits for biomass and the next Federal Farm Bill.
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BUILDING THE BIOECONOMY, ONE PROJECT AT A TIME Central to the the WBI’s efforts to build a biomass market in Wisconsin and the Midwest is the ability to take on hands-on projects that facilitate creating a biomass supply chain. While the cutting-edge research that takes place inside the lab is invaluable, our demonstration projects offer tangible opportunities and challenges for industry growth and development.
Charter Street biomass power plant
As part of his commitment to stop burning coal at state-owned heating plants on Madison’s isthmus, Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle proposed that the Charter Street Heating Plant (CSHP) in Madison switch from burning coal to burning a mixture of biomass, such as wood waste, agricultural residues and natural gas. The reprofit project will transform campus energy production and distribution by using a combination of biomass and natural gas to power the plant, which heats and cools about 300 buildings in the area. The WBI joined stakeholders from UW-Madison, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Department of Administration and the Wisconsin Office of Energy Independence to assist with the planning necessary to procure the biomass as a fuel source for part of the heat generated at the new heating plant. Together, the collaborative biomass work group has been reviewing design documents and specifications to ensure that they accommodate the use of multiple biomass feedstocks combined with natural gas. They have also worked to identify potential biomass sites and sources and possible regional aggregation sites for the plant.
This project intends to replace the existing coal boilers at CSHP with natural gas and biomass fuel. This will be accomplished through the installation of a new 350,000 lb/hr boiler capable of burning 100% biomass. The project will also include 2 new gas fired boilers to replace the coal burning units #1-4, along with necessary upgrades to the mechanical, electrical and control systems. In addition, the fuel handling system will be re-. Aerial view of Charter Street heating plant on UW-Madison’s campus. Photo by Jeff Miller, UW Communications.
In spring 2010, the team developed and released an official Request for Information (RFI) to identify potential biomass suppliers. More than 50 businesses representing biomass producers, aggregators, equipment producers and transportation companies responded to the RFI, indicating that there was enough biomass to supply the plant. Throughout the summer, WBI staff and working group members visited companies that responded to the RFI to learn more about their resources and capabilities. Using biomass fuel samples from the respondents, the working group developed the biomass specification and business types in the Request for Purchase (RFP), the next step in the procurement process that is targeted for release in early 2011. The Charter Street plant will be upgraded in phases, with the system targeted to accept biomass fuels by late 2013. Biomass fuel capacity of the plant is expected to reach approximately 250,000 tons each year.
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WiscBioenergy.org: Wisconsin’s bioenergy information and outreach network Wisconsin’s strong history of business innovation in forestry and agriculture, combined with the research and development occurring at the UWSystem and private industries, present the state with tremendous opportunity to lead the way in renewable energy production from biomass. Wisconsin’s Renewable Portfolio Standard requires utilities to generate 10 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2015. Biomass is the state’s leading renewable resource in operation. Wisconsin and the federal government have committed over $400 million to research and development focused on the biomass and biofuels industry. Utilities, farms, private businesses, local governments and state agencies are facing challenges in planning the process of transforming their energy usage profiles to comply with state regulations. The WiscBioenergy.org project was established in January 2010 as a collaborative effort among the WBI, the University of Wisconsin’s Land Information and Computer Graphics Facility (LICGF), the Energy Center of Wisconsin (ECW) and the UW Extension (UWEx) to create a collaborative online portal that will help stakeholders reach the information they need to
make sound business decisions and foster a value chain for biomass production, harvest, aggregation and delivery. The website will aid researchers, businesses, entrepreneurs and policy makers in connecting to the information and technologies they need to develop and grow the bioenergy industry in Wisconsin. Objectives: • Position WiscBioenergy.org as the premier hub for access to bioenergy resources in Wisconsin • Establish leadership in developing a sustainable biomass market in Wisconsin • Promote and enable world class research on bioenergy issues Each partner of our collaboration brings critical resources that will be combined into a single, unified decision support system. Currently, no other organization in Wisconsin or the Midwest provides this uniquely integrated capability and resource. The first component of the project is a live biomass mapping tool that will launch in late 2010. A planned future phase of the project will add a searchable database of technical bioenergy fact sheets and glossaries. If funded, the final phase of the project will add an online community for biomass suppliers, aggregators, buyers and consultants to conduct business.
Wisconsin Southern Rail Train. Photo by Paul Swanson, Wisconsin & Southern Railroad Co.
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Dane County food waste digester Last June, Dane County selected global engineering company AECOM to examine recycling food waste to produce green-generated electricity at the Rodefield landfill. A proposal set forth by Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk would build a food waste digester facility to use perishable food waste to create energy from biogas. The methane from the food waste would either be converted into natural gas or burned to generate electricity. If constructed, the project would be the first digester of its kind in Wisconsin, and one of few in the country. Falk anticipates that it could bring in $4 million a year in revenue and create about 45 jobs. An Energy Efficiency and Conservation Grant is funding the project. “Food waste recycling is a new ‘green industry’ that offers tremendous financial and environmental benefits,” says Falk. “Converting locallyproduced food waste into everyday, necessary products such as energy and soil fertilizer is an innovative trash-to-cash solution with benefits for taxpayers.”
Each year the landfill receives about 200,000 tons of material. More than 30,000 tons of that is food waste. By redirecting that food waste to the digester, the new facility would have the potential to extend the life of the current landfill and produce increased amounts of renewable energy. The project is exemplifies our work to support demonstration projects that prove the tangible benefits of bioenergy development.
“Food waste recycling is a new ‘green industry’ that offers tremendous financial and environmental benefits. Converting locally-produced food waste into everyday, necessary products such as energy and soil fertilizer is an innovative trash to cash solution with benefits for taxpayers.”
The Dane County landfill currently earns taxpayers $3 million per year taking methane from decomposing trash and turning it into green electricity, which is sold to Madison Gas & Electric Company.
Throughout the Request for Proposal (RFP) process, the WBI provided technical expertise in assessing the responses to the official RFP to provide professional architectural and engineering design services for a feasibility study and initial facility design for the food waste digester. WBI Director Troy Runge was a member of the review committee, and led the evaluation of each applicant’s technical specifications. The feasibility phase of the study explored financial requirements and renewable energy benefits that the project offers. The results of AECOM’s feasibility study will be submitted for review in late 2010.
AECOM was chosen to take on the project after a review panel evaluated 13 consultants. AECOM is a worldwide company. with a local Madison office that serves clients in more than 100 countries
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OUTREACH AND EDUCATION
INCREASING BIOENERGY AWARENESS Throughout the year, the WBI director and staff participated in more than 50 events and presentations to increase bioenergy awareness among the public, industry executives, governmental representatives and nongovernmental organizations in Wisconsin and throughout the Midwest. In addition, we are collaborating with a number of UW-Madison and UW-System campus entities to create and promote programs for K-12, undergraduate, graduate and continuing education students.
Making curriculum greener
As an important first step in promoting K-12 bioenergy education, the WBI provided support for the GLBRCâ€™s eight-day Bioenergy Institute for Educators this summer. The annual program, led by GLBRC Education and Outreach Program Directors John Greenler and Sara Krauskopf, allows teams of teachers to explore bioenergy and develop inquiry-based classroom materials for their schools. Our efforts go beyond K-12 education, too. For the first time ever, UW-Madisonâ€™s First-Year Interest Group (FIG) program offered a bioenergy course this fall. Through a new partnership between WBI and the GLBRC, students in Bioenergy: Sustainability, Opportunities and Challenges are able to both see research in the field and interact with researchers in GLBRC labs. Each FIG provides 20 freshman students the opportunity to enroll in a cluster of three courses linked by a common theme. The bioenergy course is an interdisciplinary class focused on a range of bioenergy topics that include sustainability, the ecosystem and potential biofuel production. Taught by Greenler, students are exploring the broad frameworks of bioenergy, related technologies and sustainability issues.
The Wisconsin Institute for Sustainable Technology (WIST) was established as an innovative division of UW-Stevens Point. WIST develops interdisciplinary research, education and laboratory services related to sustainable technologies with biofuels, among many other topics. The technical advances made through WIST will be transferred to Wisconsin industries and businesses, ultimately resulting in significant contributions to environmentally-sound industry and workforce development.
The Wisconsin Institute for Sustainable Technology (WIST) at the University ofWisconsin-Stevens Point is working to expand opportunities for undergraduates to learn about their environment. WIST Director of Education Gerry Ring is developing a minor in biofuels at UW-Stevens Point. He has already established five standardized bioenergy courses, and is collaborating with the WBI to develop a curriculum working group that will evaluate available courses at UW-Madison and suggest additional coursework to create a bioenergy or renewable energy certificate. The multidisciplinary effort will continue into next year. WIST aims to increase public awareness of biofuels and bioenergy by making its education division fully functional. In the future, it will offer an outreach course, public information presentations, and scientific and technical programs to encourage statewide education about the environment. 2010 ANNUAL REPORT | 20
Educating businesses The UW-Green Bay Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation’s conference, Green Innovations 2010: “Realizing Our Sustainable Future” gathered business and community leaders to examine the path to working towards the realization of a sustainable future. Attendees gained insight and knowledge of how successful sustainable business strategies can positively affect their organization. Keynote presenters provided a glance into the future of energy, living a sustainable lifestyle and achieving a vision of sustainability meant to benefit our communities, residents and businesses in Wisconsin. An Energy Showcase highlighted organizations and resources available to help businesses. The Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation focuses on supporting businesses in their efforts to create jobs in Wisconsin by helping them grow their work and create sound business practices for companies in all regions of the state.
Providing a public forum Our annual Wisconsin Bioenergy Summit is a keystone outreach and education effort designed to educate the public, connect policymakers to science, create connections with industry and serve as a public forum for feedback and engagement. This October’s Summit, themed “Fueling Wisconsin’s Future,” drew more than 200 participants and included interactive workshops and seminars aimed at further increasing involvement throughout Wisconsin and the Midwest. Each year our featured presenters, keynote speakers and breakout session panelists bring professional knowledge and bioenergy expertise to Summit attendees. We strive to bring prominent speakers and presenters to the Summit for this very reason.
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“Here in the Midwest,
where biomass is of such great abundance, we have a great opportunity to change how energy is looked at, and to be a really important player in energy in this country.” - POET Senior Director of Research Greg Hartgraves
This year’s full-day conference opened with Doug Cameron, founder and managing director of Alberti Advisors, a venture advisory firm specializing in clean technology and sustainable agriculture. Cameron spoke about the nexus of agriculture and cleantech, and the unique ways in which the distinctly different areas have come to overlap in several sectors. POET Senior Director of Research Greg Hartgraves closed the Summit with a keynote address, titled “Cellulosic Ethanol from Corn Biomass.” Hartgraves highlighted POET’s advances and progress in ethanol technologies and outlined how grain-based and cellulosic ethanol can work together to make the fuel more sustainable. He ended his presentation by highlighting the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for future biofuel commercialization projects.
Great Lakes Bioenergy Researcher Center Researchers Bryan Bals, Audrey Gasch and Randy Jackson discuss their research at the 2010 Wisconsin Bioenergy Summit. Photo by Matt Wisniewski.
In addition to the featured presentations, panel sessions that allow interaction and discussion with conference attendees are an integral part of the Summit. Sessions include speakers and moderators who represent the depth and breadth of expertise in renewable energy. From laboratory researchers to policy representatives and private business members, experts share their knowledge and experiences on a variety of topics, including science and technology, industry development, and public policy. This year, Summit panel sessions covered biomass heating and cooling projects, biogas development, liquid transportation fuels, biomass availability, research from the GLBRC and a biomass contracting workshop. Common themes around homegrown energy, renewables and sustainability, bioenergy research and energy policy emerged througout the day. In addition to the breadth of topics featured in panel sessions and workshops, each year the Summit offers a unique opportunity to network with a variety of attendees interested in renewable
energy. Participants have the opportunity to interact with industry professionals, researchers, policymakers and students. Summit speakers and sponsors attend our event to meet likeminded people and form new relationships in the growing field of bioenergy. The Summit offers undergraduate and graduate students a unique opportunity to interact with researchers, professors, peers and potential employers. In fall of 2009, the second annual Wisconsin Bioenergy Summit focused on growing Wisconsinâ€™s future in a biobased economy, and gathered almost 100 attendees and participants from the general public, private industry, non-governmental organizations and the policy arena. The event featured keynote addresses from Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle and Virent Energy Systems CEO Lee Edwards, and covered topics ranging from biomass supply, demand and sustainability to bioenergy education and workforce retraining. Other topics discussed included thermal biomass conversion, bioenergy economics and incentives as well as biofuels and biorefinery conversion projects.
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FISCAL YEAR 2011 PROJECTED BUDGET
UW Green Bay Innovation & Entrepreneurship Institute $50,000 UW-Stevens Point: Wisconsin Institute for Sustainable Technology $440,000
UW-Madison Energy Institute $125,000
WBI Outreach & Education $85,000
WBI Operating Expenses $100,000 WBI Staff $320,880
Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center $326,730
Demonstration Projects $316,400
Bioenergy Faculty & Research $1,773,254
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FISCAL YEAR 2010 EXPENDITURES UW-Stevens Point: Wisconsin Institute for Sustainable Technology $440,000 WBI Outreach & Education
UW Green Bay Innovation & Entrepreneurship Institute $50,000
UW-Madison Energy Institute $125,000
WBI Operating Expenses $113,391 WBI Staff $204,128
Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center $515,741
Demonstration Projects $40,797
Bioenergy Faculty & Research $1,577,623
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Troy Runge, Director
Gary Radloff, Midwest Energy Policy Analysis Director
We are only as strong as our collaborations with the people and organizations we represent. Though we are a staff of three, we work closely with other departments, units and colleges to maximize our resources and project impacts.
To ensure that we are operating efficiently, an oversight committee consisting of Molly Jahn, Dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at UW-Madison, Paul Peercy, Dean of the College of Engineering at UW-Madison and Christine Thomas, Dean of the College of Natural Resources at UWStevens Point has been created. The committee meets quarterly to review and evaulate our efforts and financial resources.
External Steering Committee
Designed to represent Wisconsinâ€™s stakeholders in bioenergy, the external steering committee is comprised of representatives from private industry, governmental and non-governmental organizations. The steering committee is charged with periodically reviewing the strategic plan set forth by the WBI and identifying appropriate priorities and projects to accomplish our mission.
Falicia Hines, Communications Specialist
Our associate directors are energy experts from academia who serve as portals into their areas of bioenergy research and expertise. We seek their insight into identifying people and mechanisms that exist at the university level. They often assist with education and outreach opportunities, and take on special projects related to their disciplines.
Contacts Industry, project opportunities:
Gary Radloff firstname.lastname@example.org
Media inquiries, speaking requests:
Falicia Hines email@example.com
Published by the Wisconsin Bioenergy Initiative (WBI). Produced and written by Falicia Hines.
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