Renewable technologies are emerging worldwide as mainstream sources of energy, fuels, and chemicals. Rapid growth has been driven by the improving cost-competitiveness of renewable technologies, dedicated policy initiatives, better access to financing, energy security, and environmental concerns. As a result, more investors are entertaining options for engagements with renewable chemicals and renewable fuel manufacturing projects. Sorting the “wheat from the chaff” in this complex and diverse landscape, however, requires careful and informed evaluations of many factors in a complete renewable technology assessment. This assessment of renewable technology includes an appraisal of the scientific, financial, logistic, and environmental aspects of the technology.
The core question of any technology assessment is, of course: “Does it work as advertised”? In this aspect, the appraisal requires a deep dive into the science and engineering of the process and product. Important issues to be assessed include product yields, product quality, energy utilization, process flows, materials, and safety concerns. When renewable technology passes initial scientific scrutiny it needs to be evaluated for its financial feasibility. Are the products sufficiently valuable to justify the investment in site acquisition, plant construction, labor engagement, and permitting? Will the market respond favorably to this new product or process? Are there subsidies, mandates, or other favorable conditions in play? Renewable technologies must also be assessed objectively relative to their competition from conventional technologies. Being “green” is rarely good enough.
Renewable technologies must fit into the infrastructure as they find it. Existing markets, feed provisions, utilities, pipelines, transport, and regulations are all considerations when evaluating whether the logistics make sense. Renewables, in particular, are often faced with concerns about whether sufficient diffuse resources – wood, ag waste, CO2, even sunlight – are available within a suitable area and can be economically brought together for processing. Assuming an advantage in environmental impact for renewable processes due to their renewable nature is a mistake. Air and water emissions, solid waste disposal, and utility requirements can raise issues and challenges just as with any technology.
This is all to say that the assessment of renewable technology is a many-faceted project. It is imperative to overcome the initial euphoria of the discovery of some renewable technical solution. It must survive the rigors of intense, objective analysis in order to become a worthy endeavor and a valuable investment. Experienced scientists, engineers, economists, and financiers are all needed to properly and thoroughly evaluate the potential of renewable technology.
Among its 150+ experts, Lee Enterprises Consulting has a wide range of services in bioenergy, biomaterials and chemicals, biotechnologies, and feedstocks. We certainly have specialists in assessing many types of renewable technologies, including anaerobic digestion, biomass technologies, fermentation, gasification, catalysis, torrefaction, pyrolysis, carbonization, bioreactors, renewable hydrogen & renewable natural gas technologies, carbon capture & storage, waste to energy technologies, wastewater and water treatment, gas-to liquids, hydrothermal and thermochemical conversions, syngas generation, bioplastics/polymers, fluidization, Fischer-Tropsch, direct combustion and power generation technologies, bio-fabricated proteins, synthetic biology, nutraceuticals, food products technology, aquaculture, and waste to energy technologies.
Take a look at our experts and the services we provide. You will note that most of our experts are also available for ancillary engagements and advice, for specialty engagements like serving as expert witnesses in litigation matters. A good overview of our group is found in this video. Call us at 1+ (501) 833-8511 or email us for more information.