Turkey turds redux

April 26th, 2007

Stolen from St. Olaf, an interesting piece on “Thanksgiving and the Environment” (Interior of a turkey barn, 1947. Photo courtesy of the MN Historical Society)

In today’s STrib:

From turkey droppings to kilowatts

The nation’s first manure-burning power plant is expected to go into production in Benson, Minn., in June.

Gov. Pawlenty, who wants to be known as the “Energy Governor,” supports Fibrominn and turkey turd incineration:


As the STrib article notes:

Even in an era when renewable energy has moved from environmental wish lists to mainstream discussions embraced by President Bush, Gov. Tim Pawlenty and labor unions, the business of burning poultry manure has ruffled some feathers.

David Morris lays out the problems.  It’s not “green” by any measure:

“Being green means being informed and being sophisticated,” said David Morris of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, an energy expert and longtime critic of the litter-burning project. “Simply because you’re taking a renewable resource and turning it into something else does not mean that it’s environmentally benign or economically worthwhile.”

and the price is not reasonable:

But even with federal tax incentives, Xcel is paying twice as much for Fibrominn’s power than for wind energy, according to Morris of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. He said it amounts to an $11-million-a-year subsidy that ratepayers ultimately will pay.

“That’s almost a quarter of a billion in subsidies over the life of this contract,” he said. “And in terms of projected power needs for Xcel or the state, this is a really, really tiny plant. From a systems analysis it stinks. And talking about it from an economic analysis, it stinks.”

Here’s a piece from David Morris:

 Turkey Manure Problem and the Fibrowatt Solution

Here’s the EQB’s Order on Fibrominn:

Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Order Granting Exemption

And on p. 16, there’s a recap of the Senate Committee Hearings on Fibrominn:

Senate Briefly, February 18, 2000

A couple of points on the STrib article and turkey turds from Alan Muller, of Green Delaware.  Green Delaware was an active part of the effort to run Fibrowatt out of Delaware:


Sent to the STrib:

Nothing short of nuclear reactions can turn poop or anything else into energy.  The carbon burns to CO2 and the hydrogen burns to water (H2O).  This is a constant misrepresentation made by burner promoters….

Energy is not “created.”  This is basic thermodynamics.  Some chemical energy is released as thermal energy in the chemical reactions of combustion, and some of this (maybe 85 percent or so) can be captured in the boilers and used to operate steam turbines.  The overall thermal efficiency for a plant like this is likely to be on the order of 25-30 percent.  The electricity is useful, if very expensive, but against this we need to consider various negative impacts.

This type of facility is likely to be a significant source of air pollution….  “Renewable” does not mean “clean” or “green.” (Note the 350 foot smokestack needed to disperse air pollutants!)  It is likely that people living near the facility will suffer health impacts, particular from fine particle pollution and acid gasses.

Removal of poop nutrients from the agricultural cycle is undesirable.  Using the ash as fertilizer is not as desirable as using the poop itself as fertilizer.  David Morris made this point in his testimony.

One Response to “Turkey turds redux”

  1. Catherine McBride Says:

    Please watch your foul lanuage. Children should be able to read this site without being exposed to crass people and their selfish need for publicity.

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