For two decades Douglas L. Faulkner worked to promote bioenergy both in the United States (US) and globally, including as an official and politician during George W Bush’s and Clinton Presidencies. A member of the Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce (SACC), today Faulkner is a consultant and leads an advisory committee on bioenergy in Congress. In Jönköping, Sweden on a fact-finding mission, Faulkner is visiting SkogsElmia to gather knowledge and inspiration to bring back home.
Faulkner is visiting Jönköping, meeting with officials from Jönköping Municipality in a bid to gather supporting evidence for bioenergy. His visit included a tour to Jönköping Energi’s combined heat and power (CHP) plant at Torsvik outside Jönköping and a visit to the SkogsElmia tradeshow.
The Torsvik facility produces 700 GWh of heat and 230 GWh of electricity from two boiler units – a municipal solid waste (MSW) and commercial waste line and a forest biomass line. The Torsvik 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. 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, Faulkner explained at a bioenergy seminar held at the Bratteborg Estate in conjuction with SkogsElmia.
Under the Bush administration, he promoted the concept of developing second-generation ethanol from cellulosic sources such as forest- and agricultural residues. Corn-based ethanol grew rapidly following the introduction in 2005 of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), a federal biofuel blend mandate that requires transportation fuel sold in the US to contain a minimum volume of renewable fuels.
However, a “food versus fuel” debate and subsequent regulatory “blend wall” limitations, pushed the US corn ethanol producers to export markets while interest for developing and investing in cellulosic ethanol projects waned. Only days ago has the regulatory road-block preventing year-round sales of E15 in the US, the so-called summer ban, been removed.
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, Douglas Faulkner explained.
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.