Alternative Sources for Generating Electricity: Biomass Fermentation and Biogas
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Alternative Sources for Generating Electricity: Biomass Fermentation and Biogas

alternative energy

Solar power, wind energy and biomass fermentation are all renewable sources of energy, however none of them come without some disadvantage. Solar power for example, has been available for many years, but some people feel that this process is merely a fad, and have not made the conversion. Wind power also has its problems; large tracts of land are required to operate wind farms, and the eerie noise generated can cause quite a disturbance for anyone nearby.

A more quiet process is biomass fermentation. Corn and other grains have been used for some years now, to produce ethanol, a renewable fuel source which can be used to operate machinery. Unfortunately for consumers, the prices of some commodities have risen substantially due to a lack of produce. More and more land is being used to produce grains solely for ethanol production, reducing the acreage available for food production. With the invention of more effective technology, it has been discovered that the straw from the crops can be used to make fuel, rather than using entire crops of grain. From the farmers perspective though, gathering and transporting the straw may not be a financially viable proposition.

In central Vermont, local farmers are participating in a program which turns cow dung into electricity. Biogas from the manure fuels a large generator and which in turn, produces electricity for local residents. The cost of Cow Power is a little higher, but customers are happy to pay, knowing they are reducing the amount of methane into the atmosphere, and because they no longer rely on a non-renewable energy source. Local farmers are content too, they make another stream of income from the supply of poo! According to Central Vermont Public Service (CVPS), one cow can produce an astounding 30 gallons of manure in a single day (Central Vermont Public Service, 2009).

Using non-renewable energy sources makes no sense to mankind because vast areas of land need to be devastated for mining and production. More immediate damage is caused by acid particles which rain down on the earth causing pollution problems, and damage to the ozone layer caused by the ongoing release of carbon dioxides and other toxic gases (Berg & Hager, 2007). Over the course of many years, millions of acres of land are becoming barren, and no longer able to play host to any kind of plant or animal life. Another obvious downfall is, of course, a diminishing source of non-renewable energy, and skyrocketing commodity prices in the interim.

Despite the noise a wind turbine creates, or the price of installing a solar power system, the long term benefits far outweigh the short term disadvantages. Similarly, biomass fermentation may have financial implications for the suppliers of the matter, but considering the unfavorable alternative, government funds would go much further if they were spent in this arena. Like other technologies from the past, the cost of using renewable energy sources will become more economical when more people make use of them.


Berg, L. R., & Hager, M. C. (2007). Visualizing environmental science. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Central Vermont Public Service, 2009. CVPS Cow Power: How It Works. Retrieved, June 26, 2009, from


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Comments (4)

Wow what an article great job!

Great info, I just wish more eco-friendly items weren't so expensive. Thanks for the heads up :D

Thank you, 3lilangels. I apologize for being slow to respond:) @Norma-so true. If they were attainable for the little man, the world would be so much cleaner. Thanks for stopping by.