Trash: America’s best bet for energy independence
Unlike nuclear power, new methods of turning garbage into energy actually decrease waste.
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Before gasification, waste had no other important usage beyond landfills, which ultimately would contaminate the groundwater with leachates, and produce greenhouse gases.Skip to next paragraph
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By converting waste to energy, this contamination is largely avoided and the waste becomes an asset that is capable of supplying communities and large apartment complexes with power.
It is almost perfect.
Unfortunately, not everyone agrees.
Opponents challenge the cleanliness, the energy efficiency, and even the greenness of thermochemical plants. Their biggest fears are that the production of such waste will create alarming amounts of toxins like dioxin or pollutants like mercury.
But such environmental hazards, when intelligently confronted, can easily be eliminated with new solutions.
The Plasco Energy Group, of Ottawa, Ontario, for example, overcame the dioxin issue by removing all the chlorine before combustion. And the Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency, of DeWitt, New York, reduced the mercury emission significantly by removing fluorescent lights, batteries, thermostats, and other mercury-laden items from the trash.
In Warrenton, Va., Mayor George Fitch is hoping to use his town’s discarded waste to provide electricity and fuel for its 8,500 residents. By burning 250 tons a day of commercial and residential waste, he believes he will be able to power 60 percent of all the homes and buildings, and provide biofuel for the school buses and public safety vehicles.
With the cooperation of the board of supervisors and a private investment company, he expects the planned thermochemical plant will add to the community’s greenness and produce an alternative, forever-renewable energy.
By each of us implementing waste-to-energy projects in our community, together we could significantly make a difference. These projects can be as small as an apartment complex or as large as an entire community.
Our successes can be used as an important model of a sustainable, independent energy program that can be duplicated anywhere in the world. With congressional support and incentives, it will lead to a cleaner and healthier, energy-independent America.
As Mr. Fitch puts it, “local energy independence is a viable solution to our national energy crisis. We must pursue it and refine it until it works for us perfectly. Failure to move forward now with such an alternative energy plan will only leave America hostage to those foreign interests who would like to control us by gaining a monopoly of our energy supply.”
Joe David is the author of five books; his latest book is “Gourmet Getaways.”
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