In a broadcast on the cap & trade auction beginning today in California, Christopher Joyce from National Public Radio (NPR.org) speaks with Sierra Energy to get local perspective on how AB32 and the cap & trade program may impact California businesses and clean technologies.
Excerpt from the interview:
The state hopes to use money from its auction to lure green-business entrepreneurs to California.
That includes people like Mike Hart.
His company, Sierra Energy, is testing a reactor that makes fuel. He shows me a row of buckets filled with the stuff he makes the fuel from.
“This is garbage we’re talking about here,” he says as he picks up a handful of junk. “Bottle caps, broken glass, copper pieces, mixed plastics. Walnut shells is an example of biomass. Different sorts of shredded metal that can be recovered and melted.”
Engineers pour this trash into a black, steel reactor vessel about the size of a telephone booth. They add some oxygen and steam, and the trash undergoes a chemical reaction. What comes out is synthetic gas, or syngas. It can then be turned into a low-carbon diesel fuel, or burned to make electricity, or even converted to hydrogen for fuel cells. It’s low carbon and it also makes use of trash that eventually would decompose and emit methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.
Hart reckons the climate law will drive people to his doorstep — people in search of clean energy and who don’t want to buy more permits from the state. “In the future,” he says, the law “should have a tremendous impact for us because we offset greenhouse gases, because we offset CO2. It’s not quite a gold rush yet, but if the prices turn out to be good, it will become one.”
Hart is referring to the price for permits. If they’re high enough at today’s auction, then businesses might buy his gasifiers, or the fuel from them, to lower their carbon footprint.
Sierra Energy’s FastOx technology offsets carbon in three important ways, by:
- displacing the use of fossil fuels (natural gas, coal, crude oil, etc.);
- diverting waste from producing methane in landfills (~1.15 tons of greenhouse gas is polluted for every ton of waste disposed);
- and producing fewer criteria pollutants than typical energy producing technologies.
Sierra Energy supports climate legislation like AB32, which puts an economic value on efficiency and discourages polluting technologies. This sort of state driven policy is a catalyst for innovation and encourages investment in the development and implementation of clean technologies.
“California drives innovation with its climate legislation and energy initiatives,” shares Mike Hart. “We believe by establishing our technology here, we’ll be able to implement it anywhere in the world.”
For background on the California Global Warming Solutions Act, click here.
Or for a brief review on how AB32 affects Californians, click here.