Technology upgrades can ease GHG reporting requirements

By Kris Bevill | October 06, 2009
Report posted Oct. 9, 2009, at 2:22 p.m. CST

Technology and equipment providers are wasting no time in responding to the U.S. EPA's greenhouse gas (GHG) reporting requirements. The EPA's finalized GHG reporting rule will require 10,000 facilities, including many ethanol producers, to begin collecting emissions data on Jan. 1 and it is expected that most of those facilities will also soon be regulated and required to participate in the Title V permitting process, as recently proposed by the EPA.

Fluid Components International, a global supplier of thermal mass gas flow meters, has launched a Customer GHG Reporting Fast Track Initiative to aid its customers as they prepare to comply with the reporting program. "We recognize that accurate measurement of GHG flow is important for compliance and the global environment, and [we] are ready to do our part in helping our customers meet this challenge," FCI President Dan McQueen said.

FCI's initiative is a three-part program and includes a GHG hotline, a Web page and a fast track ordering system to ensure instrument deliveries are received by the customer by Jan. 1.

Siemens AG, a Germany-based global engineering firm, has been providing digital process automation systems to the ethanol industry for a few years already, but demand for its systems, and other systems like it, could increase as producers prepare for increased regulatory demands. The National Corn to Ethanol Research Center near St. Louis has been using a digital automation system, provided by Siemens, for three years. Research engineers at the NCERC said the digital system has improved their ability to collect data substantially. NCERC director John Caupert said that new carbon footprint requirements set by second stage of the renewable fuels standard will only add to the need for ethanol plants to install some type of improved data-gathering system. "The only true way in which an existing ethanol plant can prove they are in compliance with those standards is through data," he said. "It seems to me that it's pretty obvious and straight forward that the ability to gather accurate, trustworthy data and archive it is probably in the not-too-distant future [for all ethanol producers]."

Gary McDonald, biofuels business development manager at Siemens, said digital systems are critical to continuous emissions monitoring systems. He estimated that only about 30 ethanol plants currently use Siemens' digital Fieldbus systems, but he expects more plants to upgrade from analogue to digital in the near future in response to RFS2 requirements, GHG reporting requirements and the need to reduce the cost of operation at ethanol facilities.