40% Renewable Energy by 2020
The University will pursue a renewable energy supply strategy that will optimize long-term supply and fuel price stability, while preserving an ability to test and take advantage of other potential fuels in order to achieve the goal of 40% renewable energy consumption on the campus by 2020.
What Is Biomass
Biomass is organic matter that is used for fuel. The types of biomass currently being used at the University of Iowa are wood and oat hulls. The UI is also developing Giant Miscanthus grass as a dedicated energy crop to provide biomass fuel.
Benefits of Burning Biomass
- Biomass can be produced locally, involving little to no transportation and
involving no drilling or strip mining.
- Biomass sources such as energy grasses consume CO2 from the atmosphere while they are growing, whereas fossil fuels contain carbon that existed in the atmosphere long ago. Therefore, biomass contributes considerably less new carbon into the atmosphere than fossil fuels.
- Certain biomass fuel sources provide ecological services on the landscape. For instance, perennial crops can reduce erosion, improve water quality, and provide wildlife habitat.
- Switching to biomass fuel allows the University to use renewable fuel while maintaining existing equipment and distribution systems. Because the University power plants provide both steam and electricity to campus, its renewable fuel source must be capable of cost-effectively producing more than just electricity.
Biomass Fuel Project
Industrial by-products are plant based material that are waste products or currently unusable by the producer. These by-products may be a source of fuel suitable for cofiring with coal in our solid fuel boilers. The University maintains a relationship with Quaker Oats in order to provide oat hulls, to be burned in our boilers as renewable energy.
The University of Iowa currently purchases wood chips produced at a pallet manufacturing facility. These wood chips are blended with coal and delivered to the UI Power Plant through the existing fuel handling system.
Energy grasses are grown for the express purpose of producing biopower. The University, along with partners such as Iowa State University and the Eastern Iowa Airport, aim to create and promote a dedicated energy crop alternative to traditional row cropping.
Status: The University of Iowa has planted 550 acres of Miscanthus grass and plans to plant an additional 250 to 350 acres during the spring of 2017. The goal is to establish 2,500 acres in Iowa to produce 22,500 tons of sustainable and renewable biopower feedstock to replace a portion of our coal use.