Tuesday, August 04, 2009

San Jose's Green Vision

USA Today shines the national spotlight on San Jose's efforts to become 100% self-sustaining through a commitment to biogas.

The paper reports:

"The California city is pushing forward with its "Green Vision" of getting all its electrical power from clean, renewable sources, as well as diverting 100% of its waste from landfills and converting it into energy.

In mid-June, the City Council gave the green light to start negotiating plans that could lead to the nation's only organics-to-energy biogas facility.

Renewable biogas, which contains methane, will help power the nation's 10th-largest city, which hopes to reduce its per capita energy use by 50% and get the remaining 50% from renewable sources, says Jennifer Garnett, spokeswoman for San Jose Environmental Services Department."

At the center of the city's efforts is a process called "dry anaerobic fermentation," which allows for the breakdown dry materials that would otherwise hit the landfill. According to the article, "

"The dry process, done in the absence of oxygen, is new to the USA, says Michele Young, organics manager of San Jose's Environmental Services Department.

There are similar operations nationwide, but they involve "wet waste," which is easier to recycle than dry waste, Young says. Dry waste is what usually ends up in landfills.

The proposed new technology is already in use in 12 facilities in Germany and Italy. Thirteen more are planned for this year, Young says."

Is biogas the way to San Jose's energy independence? [USA Today]