Archive for Friday, November 4, 2011

Renewable energy options to be studied for Farmland Industries site

November 4, 2011


Federal agencies will spend $35,000 to study how the former Farmland Industries site could one day support the production of renewable energy.

On Friday, the Environmental Protection Agency announced that it would pay the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Laboratory to evaluate the possibility of putting some kind of renewable energy production on the empty Farmland site, which sits along Kansas Highway 10 on the eastern edge of Lawrence.

The study will first determine what kind of alternative would work best on the site, such as geothermal, solar, wind or bioenergy, said Matt Bond, whom the city has designated as the project manager for the Farmland cleanup.

The EPA mentioned exploring the potential for producing alternative energy from plant-based materials, such as a biopower facility or a biorefinery.

“It’s a really logical place to consider something like that,” said Eileen Horn, the sustainability coordinator for the city of Lawrence and Douglas County who worked on the application. “And the good news is we can start day-dreaming and studying what the right application is for renewable energy while actively cleaning up (the site).”

For nearly 50 years, Farmland Industries manufactured fertilizer on the site. It closed in 2001, leaving behind contaminated groundwater and land. More than a year ago, the city took ownership of the property from the bankrupt Farmland, an acquisition that included an $8.6 million trust to clean the property.

In August, the Lawrence City Commission agreed to hire consultants to help the city develop a master plan for the 450-acre site. At that time, the commissioners urged the staff to consider working with consultants that could help develop the property as a “green-energy business park.” The hope was that the future industrial and commercial businesses at the park could actually use the alternative energy produced and it would be a marketing advantage.

As of now, 300 acres of the property are cleaned up and ready for development, Bond said.

The alternative energy study could take a year or longer to produce. The first step will be a meeting with the city and federal agencies that will determine what strategy to take. The remaining time will be spent gathering and analyzing data.

“It’s an attractive research tool to help attract businesses,” Horn said.

The study is part of EPA’s RE-Powering America’s Land Initiative, which encourages renewable energy development on contaminated land. The Farmland project is one of 26 across the country.


kansasplains 3 years ago

I would like to see, among other things, a green-oriented shopping center, with a large grocery store (why not Whole Foods?). Then, when people first arrive in Lawrence, they will want to pull off to get food and other things. There could be a bicycle path and bus route to join up with other parts of Lawrence for people who live in Lawrence but don't want to drive there, especially during warmer months.

There could be lots of trees, a fountain for summer months, and especially a children's park there too.

It should be a lot more than just a business center.

devobrun 3 years ago

They had better hurry. Obama will not be reelected in a year. The EPA will get funding cut in a republican administration. And the federal government will continue to slide into the red.

Since none of the alternative technologies are self-sustaining, the loss of government support will mean the patch of ground will sit idle.

Farmland made nitrogen fertilizer using a process of replacing the carbon in methane with nitrogen. There are some nice big natural gas pipes going into the place. With the plethora of gas wells going in around the country the price of methane is dropping. How 'bout developing the land to utilize the energy of the future....natural gas.

Natural gas is the feed stock for lots of chemicals. Chemical plant. Natural gas will be a cheap energy source for many kinds of manufacturing. The site is set up for just these things and that means......... Jobs.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years ago

"Natural gas will be a cheap energy source for many kinds of manufacturing."

It's not "cheap." It just isn't required to account for the many externalized costs, most of which will have be borne by future generations.

But at least that allows folks like you to pretend that short-sighted capitalism has the answer for everything.

devobrun 3 years ago

Short-sighted capitalism, as opposed to long term socialism? Like the Soviet Union? Or North Korea? Or maybe national socialism, like 1930s Germany and Italy. Or maybe environmentalism. That green thing which replaces jobs in nasty capitalist businesses isn't creating many jobs, is it bozo? Keep trying bozo. Keep pushing the socialist agenda. Government just keeps wasting money on fat cats like Solyndra and you buy it.

Enron executives were the smartest people in the room, bozo. They worked over government bureaucrats and beguiled common folk and ran off with billions. They weren't capitalists, bozo. They were crooks who figured out how to scam the government regulators.
Like the Soviet Union, bozo. And like what is happening in photovoltaics and windmills and corn-based ethanol and all those contrived energy suckers that produce less than they require to run. So Lawrence should put their money into a business that uses natural gas as the source of energy. It is available at the Farmland site. It is only going to get cheaper. Because the energy will be cheap, the business will be able to compete in the Chinese-based capitalist economy. And people will get jobs. As opposed to government subsidies.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years ago

"Short-sighted capitalism, as opposed to long term socialism?"

Can you see things in nothing in other than black-and-white terms?

"Government just keeps wasting money on fat cats like Solyndra and you buy it."

When did I "buy it?" What does that even mean?

But for what it's worth, although Solyndra failed (primarily because they couldn't compete with slave labor in China,) it was only a fraction of the total amount loaned to solar energy companies, and the great majority of them are doing exactly what they said they would.

"Enron executives were the smartest people in the room... They weren't capitalists..."

Of course they were. They were just the ugly side of capitalism that you refuse to acknowledge.

"Like the Soviet Union,"

What killed that experiment was totalitarianism, and the bizarre socialist orthodoxy on which they based it. Basing an economy on the anarchocapitalist orthodoxy you prefer would be just as big a failure.

"And like what is happening in photovoltaics and windmills and corn-based ethanol and all those contrived energy suckers that produce less than they require to run."

To some extent, you have a point. But mostly you're engaging in lazy conflation and outright mendacity.

"Because the energy will be cheap, the business will be able to compete in the Chinese-based capitalist economy."

You keep calling it cheap, when you know very well that it isn't. You just don't know exactly who will eventually have to pick up the externalized costs, or when. But that seems to be OK with you-- outta sight, outta mind, right?

BTW, China has cheap coal, and the slave labor not only to mine it, but to operate their factories. Is that what you meant by the Chinese capitalist economy? Until we spiral completely down to that level, we'll never be able to compete, no matter how much gas you want to frack.

devobrun 3 years ago

Black and white? I offered two other alternatives, bozo. National socialism and environmentalism. That's three variations on a theme. Nuance, variational, and erudite is not the world of the blog. Defend yourself without claiming simplicity, bozo. It is all the theme of government involvement in our lives. It has ruined the American dream. We are headed downhill in a conflagration of rules, regulations and laws. And it isn't working has never worked. We should live in a world where culture is defined by the individual excellence of its members. Individual members should not be defined by their culture. It is called freedom, bozo. Freedom from your family if that is what you want. Freedom from your government, if that is the goal.

Everything else you included is excuse. I just said you are simply giving excuse. In my world, that is a major challenge and causes me to be introspective.......maybe I'm wrong and Maybe I am backing people who are swaying me to some error.

I don't defend capitalism unless it is allowed to fail. Fail completely. Fail massively. Fail. It is only through failure that people stop doing that which is Enron......and solar cells.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years ago

What's to argue with? You have your ideology, and apparently little else.

But it does keep things simple for you.

chootspa 3 years ago

Oh, come on! Who doesn't like a little flammable tap water?

pace 3 years ago

dev "Since none of the alternative technologies are self-sustaining," typical self teaception. lie, wrong, not even researched. You have a right to your feelings but it is more interesting and beneficial to present argument, not some sort of faith in garbage ideology. Don't be tea, read. Some of the alternatives technologies are self sustaining, some of the main stream energy sources are tax supported, oil, gas, coal.

devobrun 3 years ago

I have a PhD in electical engineering, pace. I not only understand what an energy budget is, I could derive the Hamiltonian for you. I know no politics, pace. I think of all politicians as variations of Rob Blagojevich.

Corn-based ethanol and photovoltaics simply do not supply more energy than it takes to make them.

Corn is a real energy hog. It requires lots of nitrogen fertilizer and that comes from.....methane (see above comment regarding Farmland's product). Yes, studies have been done and the ROI for corn, as measured in joules not dollars, is marginal at best. 10%, 20%? No more than that.

Photovoltaics are even worse. Break-even points are something between 12 years and 18 years, depending on the study. The problem with the studies is that you will be told that the break-even-point is 12 years and that is for the multilayer, refraction index modified diode. But that sucker costs 3 times the run-of-the-mill diode that is being printed fast and cheap and can be afforded with subsidies. That cheapo recovers its energy cost in 18 years. Except is doesn't last that long.

Wind is fraught. Wind turbines produce power at a rate proportional to wind speed....cubed. Pace....find ytour scientific calculator and learn how to use the "Y to the X" feature. Punch in 2 enter....then 3 then "y^X". You will get 8. Oh don't have an RPN calculator do you? Got one of those TI kid machines? Then put in "Y^X" function and (2,3). If you get 8, the you have it figured out.

Now, compare power at 22 MPH with power at 18 MPH. Notice that a drop in wind of 4 MPH reduces power production by a lot.

And then there is lightening........Not in any studies. It loves windmills.......But "green" is defined by "ignore" reality.

pace 3 years ago

You can sprew your back ground all you want. You consider green alternative energies something to ignore, that is your reality. You can argue they may not be as efficient as you want but really, IGNORE. That makes so little sense and speaks of so much prejudice it is sad.

pace 3 years ago

I do agree the conversion of corn or most grains to gas isn't a win. I am very hopeful in conversion of some plant products to energy.

devobrun 3 years ago

Isn't a win. Nice euphemism. Not as efficient as I want. Nice re....mis-characterization of my statements. Ignore? I sit down and calculate, Pace. My ability to compute gives me the ability to reason.

No Pace, the alternatives don't work. Wind and solar must have fossil fuel backups. That is, when the sun don't shine, the gas-fired generator must run. This represents a big capital expense for machinery that sits idle for about 25% of the time.

Or the windmills that are ruled by a wind speed cubed law. It makes the gas-fired generators run at idle, wasting energy. The wind drops and the steam in the boiler is used for backup.

Backup, Pace. All alternative energy sources are unreliable and must have backup. Just as much backup as there is alternative source. It is a huge waste of resources.

It doesn't work, Pace....and I don't ignore it. I reject it.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years ago

Isn't it good to know that we have Devo in the world to do all our calculations for us?

After all, none of those folks working on alternative energy have the slightest clue about cipherin'.

Thank god we have Devo (and Jethro.) (although Ellie Mae will always be my favorite-- but she couldn't cipher worth a darn.)

devobrun 3 years ago

Bozo, you live in a world where your judgments and "ciphering" are farmed out to experts. You have lost the freedom to build your own opinion because there are professionals out there who know better than you do.

Furthermore, if I make my own calculations, make my own opinions based upon years of training and experience......I am ridiculed by one who believes in the experts. Strange turn of events isn't it, bozo? I challenge the wisdom of the experts and the supporters ridicule.

I thought freedom from religious dogma was a prime goal of the left.

My opinion is that climate science is a hoax. I come to this opinion based upon my 35 years experience with science and engineering. I look at the way science is funded, and warn people that it is incestuous. I see a dearth of experiments.....then I read that computer model runs are the new experiment, and I cry foul.

Climate science and the multitude of spinoffs are choking debate. The methods used to predict and advise governments are no better than the advisors in "The Emperor's New Clothes". I read the original papers from IPCC and I reject them on the basis of sloppiness. You parrot a political line.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years ago

Your "argument" is based entirely on your claim of expertise, and that your expertise trumps that of all others. And you ridicule anyone who chooses to place more trust in the expertise of anyone but yourself.

It doesn't take much reading of your posts to understand that your positions are based much more on ideology than than the level of your (self-proclaimed) expertise.

camper 3 years ago

Good point. From a microeconomic viewpoint, renewable energy can be sustainable. It is true that one wind turbine will not come close to producing the energy of a power plant, but many wind turbines, geo-thermal stations, and stategically placed solar panels can collectively cut our reliance on carbon based energy.

Richard Heckler 3 years ago

No single solution can meet our society's future energy needs. The answer lies instead in a family of diverse energy technologies that share a common thread: they do not deplete our natural resources or destroy our environment. Renewable energy technologies tap into natural cycles and systems, turning the ever-present energy around us into usable forms

A Bright Future for the Heartland: Powering the Midwest Economy with Clean Energy This UCS report shows how tapping the Midwest’s clean energy potential could drive billions of dollars in new business investment, create thousands of jobs, and save families and businesses billions through lower utility bills, while reducing the state’s dependence on coal and associated carbon emissions that contribute to climate change.

The Connections Between Our Energy and Water Most of us understand how installing a low-flow showerhead or turning off the water while brushing our teeth makes sense for saving water. But what if buying an efficient refrigerator or installing energy-efficient lighting was just as connected to saving water, using less energy, and causing fewer carbon emissions?

Tapping Into Wind Power Explore how wind power is one of the most cost-effective sources of electricity available, capable of generating power at prices competitive with new natural gas plants and cheaper than new coal and nuclear plants, while offering substantial public health, economic, and environmental benefits.

California Passes Renewable Energy Standard, Takes the Lead on Renewable Energy, Green Jobs California’s landmark renewable energy standard legislation—the Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS), or 33 percent RPS law. The 33 percent RPS law creates the strongest renewable energy requirement in the country and positions California as a national leader in clean energy investments.

Burning Coal, Burning Cash: Ranking the States That Import the Most Coal Importing coal is a major drain on state economies. UCS shows the scale of these costs, and suggests how those funds can instead be invested in energy efficiency and homegrown clean energy.

Richard Heckler 3 years ago

"Since none of the alternative technologies are self-sustaining"

Says who?

pace 3 years ago

The guy is pretending the self sustaining must refer to some sort of 0 energy. like an eternal combustion engine, rather than a source of energy developed through economic support. very goofy.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years ago

It's like saying petroleum isn't economically viable because draft animals and steam power were used in the construction of the original oil wells.

Richard Heckler 3 years ago

The real deal would be tying East Lawrence neighborhoods into that source of cleaner power.

Since there would be no: 1. CEO's 2. Shareholders 3. golden parachutes 4. special interest campaign spending 5. Corp jets

it would seem this source could be offered for way less money yet contribute enough to offset the cost. This cleaner source plus Hill's hydro power could help get a lot of customers off the conventional toxic grid into a more sustainable grid. Why not?

Liberty275 3 years ago

Lawrence can have it's own Solyndra!

formergrocerybagger 3 years ago

Its a good thing lawrence does not have a mayor/city councilman that has the potential to profit from a renewable energy project!

ljwhirled 3 years ago

Are you saying that Aron Cromwell somehow set this up? That he is corrupt?

Any time the city commission considers an issue that relates to the business of one of the commissioners it is corruption?

So anything to do with finance, would indite Hugh Carter. Anything to do with environmental studies would indite Mike Dever and anything that has to do with promoting our downtown would indite Bob Schum and Mike Amyx (and I guess Mike again now that he offices at 8th & New Hampshire and Aron because he offices at 11th and New Hampshire)?

Show me some proof. Don't just intimate. If they are corrupt, lets burn them at the stake!

I keep a close eye on the commission and the goings on at City hall and have never, ever, not once, seen anyone on city commission push a project to advance their personal financial agenda. That includes Sue Hack and the whole Dycerphia(sp?) "scandel".

Be thankful that we have such honest folks at city hall. We could do a LOT worse.

I might disagree with their decisions from time to time, but I have no doubt that they are doing their best for the City.

Now KU on the other hand......there I can see leadership putting their own career before the interests of the students, faculty, university and our community as a whole.

eotw33 3 years ago

I say leave it contaminated and move both Wal-Marts to the site

hipper_than_hip 3 years ago

I'm in favor of a bridge across the river and turnpike interchange straight north of Farmland to help move the product.

screamingraisin 3 years ago

I think that this would be a great use for this site that has been polluted for many years. This is a great opportunity to clean up this site. Renewable energy is an industry that will be very important to the future. Plus A lot of jobs would be created.

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