Renewable energy


Sunday, January 30, 2005

The biodigester

It has been some time since I added a post, and I have more news of the biodigester in the Philippines. The experimental use of other material to charge the biodigester is underway, but has not proved as successful as expected. The whole information will be added tomorrow, but he gist of the matter is that only the potatoes and yams really boosted gas production.

This is surprising, since codigestion is a recognised practice with almost all vegetable rests. Possibly the pieces were slightly large, but that should really just slow the process. It is, however, common practice to pasteurise such material before adding it to a digester, and maybe the vegetables had been treated with an antibacterial agent before being offered for sale. They were simply waste from a large market, so that is a possibility that will have to be investigated. The potatoes and yams did boost production though, but there is no information available for bagasse (the remains after sugar cane has been processed).

Being a waste product, this is a very hopeful avenue for research. Clearly, it will leave a large quantity of fibrous matter which will not be digested, but there should be a quantity of gas to be gained from the material. The fibrous matter left can either be burnt (which is the usual use for bagasse) or composted afterwards. Aerobic bacteria are quite capable of dealing with wood or fibrous matter.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Back to biogas!

sorry for the departure form the usual topic. Time was pressing this week. One of the main sources of information in Europe, the Swiss Biogas Forum, no longer seems to be very active. Although there have been more English speakers posting there, the pages have not been updated in a long time and they do not answer emails. A shame, they supplied some really very good information on the topic of anaerobic digestion and had a lot of active members in the industry.

Perhaps a few people can visit there and try to get it going again. Austria is doing some good research into anaerobic digestion of grass. Solid material is notoriously more difficult to convert into biogas, but the work is going well, and a pilot plant is just starting up now.

There has been no new information from the biodigester in the Philippines. I will drop Gerry a line at the weekend and see what is happening. He should be getting results from the codigester by now.

Monday, January 10, 2005


Washington, January 10, 2005 - The President of the World Bank Group, James D.Wolfensohn, yesterday visited tsunami-hit areas in the Meemu Atol of theMaldives, where he visited affected communities and saw at first-hand the extentof damage to their lives and the local infrastructure. During his day-long visit, Mr Wolfensohn met with President Maumoon AbdulGayoom, Foreign Minister Fathulla Jameel, Finance Minister Mohamed Jaleel as well as other ministers and senior officials."Communities are demonstrating their resilience by organizing local support networks and coordinating relief operations," Mr Wolfensohn said. "It is truly impressive to see the way the Maldives has provided basic necessities to affected people, and started to lay the foundations to reconstruct the country in order to make it again one of the most successful examples of development in South Asia."Maldives is proportionately among the countries worst affected by the disaster and will likely face the highest per capita reconstruction cost. Damage to the infrastructure of what was for a long time the most prosperous South Asian country is immense. Over a third of the total population of almost 300,000 was greatly affected, and over 122,000 people were made homeless. These figures reflect the fact that, out of a total of 199 inhabited islands, 20 were totally devastated and 53 suffered severe damage.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Nuclear energy

I am also a supporter of nuclear energy. What other options are there? As I have posted in the renewable energy forum, there is a great deal we can do to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, but not everythig that is being done is helpful. The wind energy here is so expensive to produce, and the amount of material and energy required to erect a reasonably sized wind turbine, that I have heard there is no positive energy balance there. They are certainly unsightly and not possible everywhere.

Hydroelectric cannot be used everywhere, and wave power is only possible in coastal areas. You are used to the tidal effects in the Atlantic, North Sea etc. For us, the nearest piece of sea is the Med. Tides there are only a metre or so. All the water has to go in or out through the Straits of Gibraltar, so there are basically no tides to speak of. One of the main problems are the environmentalists, I am afraid! You want to install a large hydroelectric scheme? Then you have to flood a valley, build a dam etc. You will have thousands of people saying it can't be done where you want to have it. Nuclear power is clean. There are indeed risks involved, most of which are exaggerated wildly.

But can you show me the alternative? Like it or not, we need the power produced, so it has to come from somewhere. Reducing our dependence on fossil fuels has to be the first priority. For a start, they are limited in supply, and we are agreed that they are damaging in effect. So where should it come from? When all the landfills are producing gas, unused farmland is producing biomass for heating and power production, or at least material to fuel biogas plants. A reasonable amount of district heating has been installed to make use of heat from cogeneration units, then we can take a look at the energy equation and see what can be done.

Saturday, January 08, 2005


Colombo, 8 January, 2005 - The President of the World Bank Group, James D. Wolfensohn, today visited tsunami-hit areas in the Hambantota district of Sri Lanka, where he met with affected communities and saw first-hand the extent of damage to their lives, livelihoods and public infrastructure. He also flew over devastated areas of Galle, Ampara and Batticaloa. The United Nations Secretary General, Mr Kofi Annan, and Mr Wolfensohn combined their visits to these sites in order to minimize pressure on local governments coping with relief and rehabilitation work. During his day-long visit, Mr Wolfensohn also met with Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakase and Minister of Finance Sarath Amunugama as well as representatives of other political parties. He assured them that the World Bank, in collaboration with other donors, would provide Sri Lanka the financial and technical support it needed to recover from the tragedy.

Build your own computer to save resources and money

Building Cheap Computers can be fun!
Like most PC enthusiasts, you will want to experience that true pride and satisfaction that you get from building your own computer from scratch at a cheap price. This approach not only saves you from unnecessary expenditure, in also reduces the environmental impact by eliminating the parts and steps that are not really essential. The packaging etc. on a modern computer will only be thrown away and end on the nearest landfill, so why do you need it? So why not? Start building your own computer!


India has to import nearly 70% of its annual crude petroleum requirement, which is around 110 million tons. The prices are in the range of US$ 33-50 per barrel, and the expenditure on crude purchase is thus in the range of Rs.800 billion per year, which is a major factor for the country's foreign exchange reserves. (Oil Prices touched a record high of $55 per barrel.)

The petroleum industry in India now appears fully committed to the use of ethanol as a fuel, since it will benefit sugarcane farmers as well as the oil industry in the long run.

Russia adds third large combined cycle plant

23 December 2004 - Russia's electricity utility RAO UES on Monday inaugurated the Sochinskaya cogeneration plant, only the third one in Russia to use combined cycle technology.

Cogeneration plants add a considerable increase in efficiency to traditional thermal power plants. Such moves are a real sign of improvement in the Russian power supply network and herald a new generation of thinking in the country. Full story here.

Siemens wind division secures first major order

29 December 2004 - Siemens Power Generation (PG) is to supply npower renewables, a subsidiary of RWE npower plc., with 40 wind turbines, in the first major order for its new wind power division. The full story is to be found here.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Renewable Energy Conference Las Vegas

Here is information about the upcoming conference in Las Vegas about bioenergy. This should start things moving worldwide.

POWER-GEN Renewable Energy is the renewable energy industry's premier event, with all the major players in the renewable energy (wind, solar, hydro power, geothermal energy, ocean/tidal, and biomass), renewable fuels (biofuels, ethanol, methanol, and biodiesel), and emerging energy technology (hydrogen systems, fuel cells, microturbines and energy storage) sectors of the energy industry on hand discussing key technical, regulatory, structural, economic and market issues impacting the commercial future of the important industry. The event will be featuring session tracks on technology and business issues, as well as an exhibit floor to showcase cutting edge products, systems and services.

We would like to bring this event to your attention with hopes that you will be inspired to lend your own expertise to the event and participate as an exhibitor. It is imperative that you join others in the digester industry to have a strong presence at a renewable energy fair of this magnitude. This is a great opportunity to display your products and services to a qualified audience of leading decision-makers, an audience with the power to purchase. This event is America's first all-renewables conference and exhibition, and will be the industry's leading hotspot for connecting renewable energy suppliers and customers in one place to do business. Bringing together over 1,000 power professionals, you'll join other leading renewable energy companies in three days of fast-track networking and new business negotiation.

Indeed, the expanding market demand for manure and organic waste digesters reflects the state of the entire renewable energy market. It is becoming common industry knowledge that digester technology is capable of much more than just simply electric generation, and so it is important for our industry to have a strong presence at this pivotal conference. It will be advantageous to all concerned to have the growing, thriving digester market well-represented at this event. Since the role of the digester has morphed from mere power generation to self-financing waste management techniques, it is imperative to extend this information to consumers and other energy market professionals alike.

The principal target audience will be present at this event, the broad potential array of customers for renewable energy systems and solutions. Parties to be involved in the successful widespread adoption of renewable energy include electric utility companies, independent power producers and project developers, industrial companies, high technology companies, commercial building developers, owners, architects, and engineers, residential developers, architects and builders and government agencies that buy and/or apply renewable energy solutions. Don't miss out!

Please feel free to contact me or Donna Welsch at _donnaw@pennwell.com_ ( (please copy me if you do so) for more information, or visit _ ( .

Richard MattocksENVIRONOMICS
2517 Rte. 44, 11-221Salt Point,
NY 12578845 635 4206845 635 4169 (Fax)

There have been new developments on the biodigester in the Philippines. Gerry Baron is now adding vegetable waste to operate a codigester instead of simply using pig manure. We will see what sort of gas production results from this.

I felt like Dr. Emmet Brown of "Back to the Future" fame feeding test digester #1 with sliced tomatoes, #2 with shredded potatoes, yams, breads & other fruit scraps and #3 with golf-green grass shavings.

Each digester which a 200 liter drum got about 5 liters of the stuff representing 1/2 of chicken manure bi-monthly feed. I will begin measuring biogas output and testing flamability on Jan 9. It's probably safe to say my pets ate very well today. They deserve it.

We will soon see what results this has. One of the main secrets of operating a codigester is to chop the material small enough. In general, it must be reduced to around 1 - 2 mm in size to digest in a normal period of time.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

First post

Hi, my name is Simon Fowler, and this blog will be about all forms of renewable energy and efficient use of energy. My background is mechanical engineering, but I have worked mostly in the field of electronics since finishing university. This blog will mostly be in English, but I will add sections in German as well, just to keep you interested!

Bioenergy in my use of the word has nothing to do with medicine or any of the parapsychological sciences. i am simply referring to all forms of energy from biological sources, such as biogas, biomass: landfill gas just qualifies!