Bioenergy champion in the USA gathers facts at SkogsElmia

Douglas L Faulkner has worked for decades to promote the use of bioenergy in the USA. He is now visiting SkogsElmia to gather knowledge and inspiration to bring back home. He says there’s a lot to take back with him.

“Bioenergy is not highly regarded at the moment,” he says.

For two decades Faulkner has worked to promote bioenergy usage both in the USA and globally, including as an official and politician during George W Bush’s presidency. Today he is a consultant and leads an advisory committee on bioenergy in Congress.

He is visiting Jönköping and SkogsElmia to gather supporting evidence for the issue and to speak on Friday at a seminar on bioenergy. The day before the fair, he visited the nearby combined heat and power station at Torsvik and met with officials from Jönköping Municipality.

The Torsvik facility produces 700 GWh of heat and 230 GWh of electricity from two furnaces. The fuel in one is household and industrial waste and in the other it is forest biomass. In Sweden, the facility is an example of how renewable resources are being used for the benefit of both the environment and the climate.

“In the States, public opinion is against incineration, especially of wood,” Faulkner explains. “Instead, it’s considered good for the environment to leave the forests unmanaged, which was one cause of the huge forest fires in California last year.”

Under the Bush administration, he promoted the concept of developing second-generation ethanol from the forest, but the idea stalemated due to criticism of ethanol made from wheat. Subsequently, regulations were introduced making it harder to use biofuels. The result is that the USA exports biofuels to Europe instead of using them itself.

Why did the issue become stalemated? Faulkner says it was because biofuels are more complex and multi-faceted than other types of energy. That isn’t received well in a media climate where everything is presented as black or white, good or bad, especially on social media.

But that does not mean the battle is lost – on the contrary. In Jönköping, Faulkner found confirmation that bioenergy has great potential and that proven technology is in operation.

Published
6/6/2019
Images
Douglas L. Faulkner visited the nearby combined heat and power station at Torsvik and met with officials from Jönköping Municipality.  kommun. kommun.he visited the nearby combined heat and power station at Torsvik and met with officials from Jönköping Municipality.
Douglas L. Faulkner visited the nearby combined heat and power station at Torsvik and met with officials from Jönköping Municipality. kommun.