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Compare the Potential: North Carolina has the richest bioenergy reserves, in the form of wastes, in the eastern United States. North Carolina ranks 2nd in the U.S. in the production of hogs and the production of turkeys, ranks 4th in the production of broiler chickens, and is the 9th most populous state. North Carolinians need only look out the window of their home or office to see the reasons why – we live in a very ‘green’ state. Our climate is moderate, with ample resources that attract new residents, businesses, and support a strong agricultural economy. However, North Carolina has been slow to realize the huge potential that may be derived from these organic resources in the form of bioenergy. Why have we spent so much time evaluating the energy resources buried deep in our soils, rather than recognizing the opportunity right in front of us, above the dirt?

Establishing infrastructure systems that capture, purify, and transport the biogas that may be derived from these organic resources creates an infinite energy reserve to draw from, creating jobs and bolstering our economy.

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The two maps shown above were developed by the US Geological Survey and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, illustrating the potential for natural gas resources and organic bioenergy resources in North Carolina, respectively. Note that while there are certainly areas within North Carolina that depict promising opportunity for natural gas development, the potential exists for bioenergy development for most of North Carolina. And, while there is a finite volume of natural gas in these plays, the supply of bioenergy is infinitely renewable. North Carolina has the greatest potential for bioenergy development in the United States, and the decisions and policies to get the infrastructure in place to start capitalizing on these resources must begin
NOW.

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Developing North Carolina’s Bioenergy potential provides for the ability of trucking fleets to use North Carolina biogas, rather than imported diesel fuel. This gives North Carolina a huge transportation cost advantage for manufactured goods transport to ports and air terminals, and provides for the ability of North Carolina to support its manufacturers through lower-cost ground transportation fuels, and insulate its electric utilities from large spikes in natural gas costs as was observed in Northeastern U.S. in the winter of 2013-2014.

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The Takeaways:

 North Carolina has the richest bioenergy potential in eastern United States stemming from landfills, municipal wastewater plants, and agriculture. These resources are infinitely renewable.

 North Carolina must advocate policies and programs that remove obstacles, minimize risk, and promote the development of these valuable resources that bolster NC’s economy and create jobs.

 Investments that harvest energy from waste carbon sources provides revenues that support further environmental improvements for existing waste generators and processors.

What’s Needed:

North Carolina needs a roadmap to developing these valuable organic bioenergy resources. Leaders should take steps to identify the policy barriers, risk mitigation strategies, and other inhibitors that have slowed the pace of bioenergy in North Carolina to a crawl. In the absence of these steps, North Carolina simply remains price takers on transportation and energy fuels, and will watch as other parts of our globe pioneer, and profit, from bioenergy systems that attract away biotechnology businesses, and suffer the slow and painful decline of our robust agricultural economy.