Achieving bioenergy’s full potential

By Wayne McFarland, CEO, SynTech Bioenergy - June 5, 2019 - for Recycling Product News

Talk to someone not in the waste industry and you'll find they're stunned that in 2019, we're still burning and burying waste, or even just allowing it to rot on the forest or orchard floor, or on the farmer's field. These methods result in losing the valuable energy found in waste - energy which can both help to relieve the pressure on rapidly diminishing fossil fuels and help reverse the harmful trends of global warming and climate change. Climate change is no longer a problem for the next generation. We simply must do better and do better now. 

We can start by converting otherwise unrecoverable "waste" into renewable bioenergy. Multiple energy, environmental and economic problems can be met through the advanced thermal conversion of biomass, processed municipal solid waste and other problematic waste streams into sustainable, clean, carbon-negative energy. This energy takes the form of power and heat, and the conversion process can produce low-carbon products such as fertilizer made from, or enhanced by, high-quality biochar, a by-product of the waste-to-energy conversion process. Advanced liquid fuels can also be produced, which need neither blending nor engine modifications and burn cleaner than conventional fuels.

Today's bioenergy - not to be confused with the incinerators and biofuel failures of the past - has enormous potential to provide clean, carbon-negative energy on-site where waste is generated. It can be reused on-site or locally, at the community level, where it makes the most sense, and can be returned back into an operation quickly. The solution provides energy at lower cost than traditional alternatives and it be connected directly to the needs of consumers. Additionally, bioenergy conversion plants can operate on-grid, off-grid or as a micro-grid. 

Increased use of bioenergy created from advanced thermal conversion will help put an end to burning or landfilling wastes, particularly biomass, green and organic waste, and in the process, keep millions of tons of carbon out of our environment every year. Virtually overnight, the use of bioenergy can render a business which was once a polluter, into a completely carbon-negative operation. It also creates jobs up and down the employment value stream. 

To read the rest of this article, including three of the critical requirements I believe can help this emerging new carbon-negative bioenergy industry achieve its full potential, please go to

Kevin McFarland