Agriculture Could Play Key Role in KY Energy Future

by kespeland on September 11, 2009

Agricultural and forestry leaders came together in Louisville this week to determine how their operations could help control the state’s greenhouse gas emissions as well as how they might contribute to Kentucky’s renewable energy goals.  The University of Louisville’s Kentucky Renewable Energy Consortium organized the forum.  And Consortium spokesman Cam Metcalf says participants realized the magnitude of the state’s energy needs.

“I think the reality that became very clear is that we’re going to have move 25 million tons a year of these energy crops through collection and processing in an economically viable way so that we get the energy out of them,” says Metcalf.

Kentucky has adopted the goal of getting 25 percent of the energy it uses from renewable sources by 2025.  Metcalf says the challenge will be to make energy crops like switchgrass and miscanthus, which can be turned into fuel, attractive for traditional farmers.

At the forum, KREC also awarded its second round of grants for energy efficiency and renewable energy research.  Metcalf says these fields of research are becoming increasingly popular and more competitive in Kentucky.  Metcalf says that in the Consortium’s first round of funding, they considered 14 applications from two universities.

“This time, we have 866 thousand dollars.  We had 29 proposals from 6 universities and were able to fund seven projects,” Metcalf says.

The projects range from enhancing a solar heating pipe at the University of Louisville to building a weather-controlled demonstration house at the University of Kentucky.

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