Beyond corn: State's power future in prairie grass, cow manure

Monday, April 23, 2007

From a story by Mike Ivey in The Capital Times:

Making motor fuel from corn comes with a variety of problems, from the amount of energy it takes to produce ethanol to the impact on food prices.

But a report prepared today for a biofuels conference at Monona Terrace says other burnable material such as prairie grass, crop residue, papermaking waste or cow manure holds far greater promise for turning Wisconsin into an energy powerhouse.

Wisconsin has almost 15 million tons of potential excess "biomass" that could produce 1.3 billion gallons of ethanol per year, enough to displace half of the 2.6 billion gallons of gasoline consumed in the state last year, according to the report from Better Environmental Solutions.

If burned to produce electricity, this same amount of biomaterial could also replace about 15 million tons of coal, roughly 55 percent of the state's entire coal use, the report said.