Negative Emission Renewable Power

Households and agribusinesses in remote rural areas of Sub-Saharan Africa are heavily relying on wood fuels, which leads to unsustainable exploitation of forests and widespread land degradation. Electrification from the national grid remains limited and unreliable in these parts of the World, and supplying power with solar/battery mini grid technology suffers from a high costs of energy storage.

Yields and profits from key food systems like maize and tea are generally far below attainable levels because of multiple interlinked factors, the most widespread and impactful ones being low inputs of organic resources to replenish soil fertility, and dependence on increasingly erratic rainfall for supply of water.

Low-grade brown wastes with high carbon and low nitrogen content such as maize cobs, groundnut pods, coconut husks, pineapple trash and tea pruning are the largest organic resource pools in agri-food value chains, yet only small fractions of these are finding a way back into soils of agricultural fields. Most of these biomass residues are burned to ease remediation.

The very high and ever-increasing levels of deforestation for wood fuel and use of open fires (https://go.nasa.gov/3t9YRs2) for clearing crop residues from fields make Sub-Saharan Africa a large source of carbon dioxide (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-11097-w).

Gasification energy systems make it possible to augment the value of low-grade brown wastes and other renewable biomass caches by producing affordable electricity and heat for domestic and industrial purposes. Biochar, a by-product from gasifiers, offers huge opportunities for green manufacturing, soil fertility management and carbon sequestration in agricultural value chains of tropical Africa (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378429018318938). Enhanced weathering is a geoengineered technology that involves artificially speeding up the dissolution of primary silicate rocks. There are strong complementarities between farming with rocks and biomass gasification systems: the latter can supply cheap electricity and heat to make enhanced weathering products, while the former can remove large amounts of carbon dioxide from exhaust gases

The question, then, is how do we use science-industry collaboration to lift up these technologies in financially attractive and ecologically sound ways for increasing access to climate-smart energy and food?

Co-REGEN develops circular business ecosystems for gasification energy, biochar farming and enhanced weathering in subsistence farming communities and commercial agribusiness. Focus is on optimization of supply logistics, power generation, agronomic advisory and financial management. This short video gives you an overview of the innovation space that Co-REGEN is occupying (https://drive.google.com/file/d/1klkhGQydfNuyGr4a7Qncss2MWW0HQ0Ys/view?usp=sharing) .

Thank you for starting this discussion, @DriesRoobroeck!

I’d like to split this up in order to facilitate our process. We’re currently mapping out what we call subdomains: areas that we should focus on. The next step will be identifying challenges before we crowdsource breakthroughs which could be converted into prize ideas.

It sounds like gasification energy systems could be a breakthrough that addresses such challenges as excessive wood fuels, deforestation, dearth of electrification in the developing world… If you had to group this all under a “subdomain”, what would you call it?

Thanks for the follow-up @NickOttens and mapping this to the energy domain !

My suggestion for a subdomain name would be " Negative emission renewable power", which is distinguished from clean energy systems that do not actively remove CO2 during the generation process (like solar or wind)

Excellent! Let me rename this thread accordingly. I realize there are ideas and suggestions in there that could spawn multiple threads and be revived in later phases of the Global Visioneering program, but for now we need a simple description that other members can vote on.

@NickOttens I would like to invite partners from the Co-REGEN consortium to join the Community so they can follow and add to the thread (and yes vote it up). They include mini grid developers, tea cooperatives, and experts in renewable energy planning, data science, climate-smart technologies and consumer engagement. How can we get them an invite code?

That would be fantastic!

You can do two things:

  1. You can send out invitations via your profile in the Community. Click on your avatar in the top-right and then select “Invites” from the drop-down menu.2

  2. Just share the invite code (“visioneer”) and the link to community.xprize.org.

@DriesRoobroeck I love this new challenge topic of “negative emission renewable power,” as well as the potential breakthroughs from gasification of biomass + utilizing biochar. Voting this up! :slightly_smiling_face:

Thanks @JessicaYoon for adding your vote to this topic. I’m on standby to clarify more about the closed-loop models for gasification energy, biochar farming and enhanced weathering with crop residues and other biomass wastes.

  1. Co-REGEN’s solution seems also a system of off-the-grid energy?
  2. Is Co-REGEN’s matured? If yes, wondering where’s the space left for a challenge?

Hey, @crointel, below the short answers to your questions

  1. The Co-REGEN utility model can be implemented for offgrid electricity supply and industrial heat, but also for netmetering in gridded urbanized environs.
  2. Different parts of the model are at varying levels of technology readiness. The gasification generator technology used in Co-REGEN is matured, these systems are commercially marketed and are operational with communities agribusiness in the US, EU, China and India. What is not in place is the operational, financial and policy frameworks for circular business ecosystems to supply biomass wastes, use of biochar and enhanced weathering products in agri-food production and verify/monetize mitigation outcomes from C capture. Combined gasification and enhanced weathering has not been implemented, but reactor technologies are being developed separately.

Cool, thanks a lot!

Thank you for suggesting this idea. It looks like the world is in dire need of such development. However, how is this potential competition different from two other competitions from XPRIZE’s past and present?

See Carbon XPRIZE - https://www.xprize.org/prizes/carbon

And the $100 million USD Carbon Removal XPRIZE - https://www.xprize.org/prizes/carbon

@Roey, let me clarify first on the subject header 'Negative Emission Renewable Power ". This specifically entails energy generation utilities that use infinite flow resources (biomass, solar, wind and hydro) and offset more carbon than is released within the system boundaries so the end result is access to affordable green power with a net cooling effect on the Earth’s climate.

As far as I know earlier competitions looked at renewable energy and carbon removal technologies in a separate fashion, e.g., higher efficiency and lower cost solar panels or manufacturing products with CO2. The suggested new topic is different in that it directly links these two SDGs. In essence it pushes for green energy systems to instantly achieve a negative emission footprint, and for C capture technologies to avoid competing with productive energy uses.

Hi @adventureashr, @Jesse_Nyokabi, @Mahmoudburai, @CO2Cap_SysEng, @clabeaux, @Access600, @anis - Would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Do you agree this is an important topic under energy that XPRIZE should focus on? If yes; vote for this topic. If not; add a new topic (by clicking on " New Topic" here) you feel is most important under energy domain.

I see now. Thank you for making that clear!

Hi @Febbie, @mikelandmeier, @josephjjames - What are your thoughts on increasing access to climate-smart energy and food?