Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Chicken waste turned to watts

December 30, 2009

The new company is one of many that hope to benefit from a 2007 state law that requires electric utilities to increase their reliance on renewable fuels, such as solar energy, poultry waste and swine waste. But green remedies, like all answers to complex problems, cause side effects.

Poultry waste, despite its abundance, has so far proven a problematic fuel. When burned directly, it spews air emissions comparable to those from a coal-burning power plant. Green Energy Solutions proposes to solve that problem by extracting methane from the waste and leaving behind an odourless sludge that can be used as fertiliser. In recent public filings with the NC Utilities Commission, the developer has said it is building a power plant in South Carolina that is set to begin operating in June 2010.

According to filings, it is operating several similar facilities in Europe and has contracts or commitments with 13 poultry farms in North Carolina to supply organic fuel. Green Energy Solutions would generate electricity at the farm and sell the power to an electric utility. Company vice president Julian Cothran says Green Energy Solutions has submitted proposals to Progress Energy and Duke Energy, as well as to ElectriCiti Investment Researches, which represents municipal power agencies, and to GreenCo, an arm of the state's rural electric cooperatives.