Des Moines Register. A report by Frontline BioEnergy in Ames, Iowa concludes that ethanol plants powered by coal release as much as 92% more carbon dioxide than those powered by natural gas.
The City Council of Des Moines, Iowa, is trying to decide between two competing proposals for a $200-million, 100 million gallon per year ethanol plant—one powered by coal, the other by natural gas—and is currently divided on which project to select. The report now goes into the decision mix.
Frontline’s analysis of a plant that would produce 50 million gallons of ethanol a year show a coal-powered facility would release as much as 207,000 tons of carbon dioxide a year while a natural gas-powered plant would emit 108,000 tons.
Des Moines’ proposed plants would produce at least 100 million gallons of ethanol a year. That means that the coal-powered plant would release as much as 414,000 tons of carbon dioxide a year, according to the report.
Frontline BioEnergy is a biomass gasification company. The company is currently working with researchers from Iowa State University to optimize a gasification process for the production of producer gas from biomass to replace the use of natural gas in ethanol plants. (Earlier post.)
Some backers of the coal-powered plant believe Lincolnway’s plan holds the most potential of someday using renewable energy sources such as switchgrass to power the plant. Some supporters of using coal also believe the large amount of natural gas used by ethanol plants could drive heating costs up for thousands of Des Moines-area families.
“This is about the future,” [Mayor] Cownie said Friday, noting that the city will use an independent consultant to evaluate the proposals before the Dec. 4 vote. “We all want to do the right thing.”