Project converts human, livestock waste to energy
Guernsey — A Platte County project would solve landfill challenges and utilize feedlot manure while creating renewable energy for the area.
“What they want to do is build a 35-megawatt power plant. The purpose is to incinerate garbage and deal with landfill issues,” says Dan Brecht with Platte County Economic Development of American Renewable Energy Associates (AREA).
AREA converts municipal solid waste to electrical power and is specifically designed to meet renewable energy criteria. The company’s goals include eliminating landfills for municipal waste, creating temporary and permanent jobs and helping America develop energy independence.
The Guernsey plant is projected to burn 300 tons of garbage daily. To meet the target volume trash will be collected from as far east as western Nebraska and possibly as far south as the Front Range. The northern edge would be Douglas with Casper or Laramie as the western border, explains Brecht.
Brecht adds that Platte and Goshen county residents have been very supportive of the project, which will be located west of Guernsey off Highway 26.
“The facility they want to build would employ several people. They want to put an office in Guernsey and are also talking about putting in housing that would not only help meet their needs but also those of Camp Guernsey and possibly Torrington,” says Brecht.
Heather Foster is Director of Public Relations and Marketing for AREA and says the projected date to be online and producing power is April 12, 2012. She adds that at present AREA has purchased land and is working on permits with the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) in addition to contacting municipalities.
“The land AREA purchased has a depression where we should be able to hide the facility. We’re trying to make sure we’re not going to hurt anything like scenic quality or the environment. We want this to be a positive for the area. It will be a very clean and nice facility, but it’s still a facility,” says Foster.
The incinerator will be efficient, according to Brecht. He explains that it will use a moderate amount of groundwater – less than the Laramie River Station coal plant in Wheatland.
“The water needs can probably be taken care of with a moderately sized well. It’s non-polluting and everything is re-looped, filtered and screened,” he says, adding, “Nothing goes into the air or groundwater due to the looping.”
There would be two byproducts generated in addition to electricity. Waste heat is one that could eventually be used to heat buildings. That option is currently used in Denmark, where incinerators are more common than in the United States. The second byproduct is an inert bottom ash. This is a similar ash to what is produced by power plants and every batch is tested for heavy metals. Over 99 percent of batches pass and are used for filler in building and road projects, among other things.
Another viable waste source for the incinerators is manure. Foster explains that a biodigestor bug converts animal waste to a mulch and eliminates methane gas in the process of producing energy. Farmers can utilize the mulch as a fertilizer after AREA has used the raw waste to generate energy.
“It’s pretty amazing technology. Farmer’s aren’t losing their fertilizer and we’re able to take something else from it,” says Foster.
“DEQ is nagging feedlots and this can be a real plus for those people as a means of managing manure piles. Once dried, manure is a hotter, more reliable heat source than municipal solid waste because it’s more consistent,” explains Brecht.
Foster adds that AREA has been in contact with Wheatland, Torrington and western Nebraska feedlots and is also working with several dairies in Arizona. Utilizing manure will depend on feedlot proximities and the ability to combine manure from multiple feedlots she explains.
“AREA is a good company to work with. They got a lot of local support once we learned what they are. This could be an answer to rising unemployment and knowing they are non-polluting has really done them well,” says Brecht.