Turkey Crap: A Nuclear Replacement?

Given what seems like constantly rising energy costs, it's good to know that some enterprising professionals are thinking about new fuels to burn (registration required). According to the New York Times, a new $200 million power plant will be burning "turkey litter to produce electricity." No, this is not a joke. "For the last few weeks now, since before generating operations began in mid-May, turkey waste has poured in from nearby farms by the truckload, filling a fuel hall several stories high. The power plant is a novelty on the prairie, the first in the country to burn animal litter (manure mixed with farm-animal bedding like wood chips). And it sits at the intersection of two national obsessions: an appetite for lean meat and a demand for alternative fuels."

Fascinating -- if smelly -- stuff I say. But before you go out and mandate that your suppliers investigate burning domesticated avian crap to reduce the impacts of rising oil prices on their business, you should know a couple of things. First, like ethanol, the fuel is being heavily subsidized at this point -- in other words, it can't compete against coal, nuclear or other traditional plant feedstocks yet on its own. Second, it's unproven at the scale which this plant is proposing to reach when it goes into regular production. And third, this project might just be a case of government pork -- or would that be giblets -- good astray.

Jason Busch

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