BRATTLEBORO, Vt. — While too many of our leaders in Washington pretend that global warming, peak oil and the growing numbers of the hungry in our nation are just figments of the liberal imagination, I recently got a glimpse of a project that, when fully operational, will take care of all three problems and provide jobs in the process.
How? A Vermont company called Carbon Harvest Energy is running a 250-kilowatt generator that takes methane gas from the former Windham Solid Waste Management District landfill in Brattleboro and turns it into electricity. A local utility is buying the electricity made at the site, which it estimates is enough to power 300 homes.
Landfill gas is the natural by-product of the decomposition of solid waste in landfills and is comprised primarily of methane – a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, municipal solid waste landfills are the second largest human-generated source of methane emissions in the United States.
A project like this one not only prevents emissions of methane, but uses these gases to produce energy and other by-products. But turning a dangerous gas produced by landfills into energy is only the beginning of what is planned for what Carbon Harvest calls the Brattleboro Renewable Energy and Sustainable Agriculture Project.
When finished in the next year or so, the waste heat from the generator will be used to heat a 20,000-square-foot greenhouse and aquaculture facility that will grow 100 tons of organic vegetables and raise 25 tons of fish year-round for local markets and the Vermont Foodbank, which supplies food for the shelves of soup kitchens around the state.
A commercial-scale algae farm is also planned for developing other products, including biofuels, a sustainable fish-feed replacement and nutraceutical applications. The facility will also serve as a green technology research center to be used by
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