To the Editor:
In his recent response about a microgrid for the railyard, Albert Colone faulted me for not giving him credit for a source of energy that he never mentioned in his original article: biomass. Then he asks who, besides me, would not like that?
Well, the hundreds of people who vigorously opposed and ultimately defeated a proposed wood-burning power plant in the railyards a few years ago would probably say, “No thank you, Albert.”
Clearly, I must repeat the lesson of my earlier letter regarding “combined heat and power” (CHP), also called “cogeneration.” CHP requires combustion to create electricity and heat at the same time.
Consequently, it won’t work very well as a “backup” electricity source unless heat is also needed during those periods of peak demand.
As I wrote earlier, geothermal energy would be a great way of heating and cooling buildings at the railyards or elsewhere: I support that 100 percent. However, unless we move to Iceland where geysers are hot enough to run turbines, geothermal is not a CHP solution.
If, instead of “biomass,” Mr. Colone actually meant “biogas,” then he will need to relocate his CHP power plant, and the industrial-development area, to the county landfill. Otherwise, he will need a very long steam tunnel.
There is only one hydro-powered microgrid proposed under NYSERDA’s New York Prize initiative, and I would support such a plan for Oneonta if it were deemed feasible.
But every other microgrid that has been proposed or built in New York produces almost all its energy by burning fracked gas.
A 25 MW CHP power plant at the railyards would need a dozen so-called “bomb trucks” a day for fuel. Of course, a few watt-hours of wind or solar electricity might be tossed in as window-dressing, but that won’t solve the climate crisis.
The bottom line is that more combustion means more greenhouse gas emissions.
We are out of time for “all of the above” solutions that make us more dependent on fossil fuels.