Biomass's Most Dynamic Feedstock

By Tim Portz | May 02, 2014

On the final day of last month’s International Biomass Conference & Expo in Orlando, nearly 50 attendees and I began our morning by watching a waste hauler dump 14 tons of food waste into the receiving bay hopper at Harvest Power Orlando’s anaerobic digester. The food waste was incredibly wet, and as it dropped into the hopper, our host, Chris Balfe, organics director  of project development at Harvest Power, explained that 24 tons of what we were seeing flow into area landfills every second.

Three days earlier, we opened the International Biomass Conference & Expo with our traditional conversations featuring association leaders from virtually every sector of the greater biomass industry. Panel newcomer Patrick Serfass, executive director of the American Biogas Council, pointed to local and state organics diversion policies as one of his segment’s largest current catalysts. If organic waste diversion regulations continue to march across the country, facilities like Harvest Power Orlando will have to become the norm. The biogas generated at the facility is converted to electric power, but as Chris Hanson’s story “Power or Fuel: Making the Choice” (page 36) illustrates, developers are increasingly looking to compressed renewable gas plays to maximize project returns.

Anna Simet’s photo-rich coverage of the event, “All Things Biomass” (page 10) conveys the breadth and energy of the event’s seventh iteration. Increasingly, the conference is beginning to feel like both a wrap-up of the preceding year, and a look into the coming one. This year was no different. The hallways and sessions were abuzz with and about professionals and projects we featured within the pages of Biomass Magazine during the past year. Moreover, members of our team are already working through a healthy collection of stories to determine where they fit into the arc of our 2014 editorial calendar.

In this issue, you will also find a robust exploration of the many ways our industry captures the energy bound up in municipal solid waste streams. For “Surveying the U.S. Waste-to-Energy Fleet” (page 17), Kolby Hoagland mines BBI International’s own data to illustrate where the nation’s waste-to-energy installations are located, when most of them were deployed and the impact they have on the waste and energy systems of the communities they serve. This issue addresses each sector and makes a strong case that waste streams have been, and will likely remain, the industry’s most sought-after input for good reason.