Small Town Kansas Makes Sustainability Investment

There's enough good design news in this story to overcome even a hopeless G8 meeting. A group of investors in Goodland Kansas (where sunflowers are big), has decided to bundle three energy efficient technologies, linking mass and energy flows from a co-generation plant for electricity, an ethanol fermentation/distillation plant, and a biodiesel plant, all on a single site. Making electricity co-gen is the X2 gain. Using the co-gen plant's waste heat (steam) as an input for making ethanol makes it X3. Using the ethanol plant waste sludge as an input to the biodiesel plant makes it X4. Now all they have to do to achieve X5 status is adopt some of the new cellulosic enzymes, recently reported in TreeHugger, to up their ethanol prouction efficiency. The upshot is an environmental footprint far and away better than previously reported life cycle studies have indicated for biodiesel. TreeHuggers can certainly forgive the use of coal if mercury emissions curbed with best available technology(fingers crossed for X6).Imagine the contribution to local sustainability that such projects could make if the biodiesel produced were consumed by local farmers who in turn produced the celluloses and plant sugars as well as food for consumers. Writing a post like this makes me think its something I dreamed after eating too much organic food during a Kansas tornado and I better wake up and re-check the source. Gratefully, it seems good enough to become true! Excerpts from The Salina Journal, of July 6, 2005, follow.

"...The Goodland Energy Center, as the compound has been coined, is backed by local investors who are simply doing "everything they can to make the area vital," said Ron Pickman, the chief operating officer of the project and former Goodland city manager...The three plants will be built about four miles west of Goodland, right next to a sunflower processing plant"....

"We eliminate waste, because we use it all," Pickman said...

The coal-fired plant will be owned by Goodland Energy Resources, the ethanol plant by E. Caruso and the biodiesel plant by ReNewable Energy Resources, all Goodland-based companies that were formed for this project.

The plants are expected to create 60 to 100 new jobs and possibly another 100 to 200 ancillary jobs that will support the projects...Construction is expected to begin on the compound within about 45 days and be producing by September 2006.