Project to focus on development of renewable energy source evaluation tools
Tom Marrero, a chemical engineering professor, and Tom Johnson, the Frank Miller professor in agricultural and applied economics and professor in the Harry S. Truman School of Public Affairs, have been funded by the state’s Department of Natural Resources to develop a feasibility evaluation of renewable energy projects based on economics, environment, energy and sustainability.
The $50,000 “Energize Missouri” grant is one of 17 renewable energy subgrants awarded in Missouri with funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act through the U.S. Department of Energy’s State Energy Program.
Over the next year, the pair will develop a protocol that will allow feasibility evaluation of renewable energy projects based on economics, environment, energy and sustainability.
“If policies allow alternative fuels such as solar or wind or biopower, the basis for the selection of a fuel system that could produce sustainable energy would require selection criteria,” said Marrero. “That criteria would be necessarily quantitative and allow selection from comparison of not only profit and environmental impact, but also societal impact.”
“DNR has an energy center with responsibility to increase efficiency and decrease consumption,” said Johnson. “We’ll add some high-quality tools for them to use.”
Johnson is particularly interested in the feasibility of sustainable energy for small-scale operations, such as family farms where something like methane from animal waste might be a potential source of both electricity and heat.
“The first place we should look [for potential energy sources] is in our waste streams,” Johnson said.
Marrero said that model’s evaluation criteria would include present value, potential environmental impact, system life cycle assessment, a sustainability index and choice awareness.