This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

February 02, 2005

U.S. Companies Turn Landfill Gas, Plants, and Manure into Power

Companies throughout the United States are pursing new projects to convert landfill gases, plants, and animal wastes into power.

Methane-rich landfill gas is a growing source of power, as landfills seek to reduce both their greenhouse gas emissions and the odors associated with the emissions. Ameresco, Inc. announced in late December that it is working with Santa Cruz County in California to generate 3.2 megawatts of power from the county's landfill in Watsonville. In late January, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) honored Ameresco as its 2004 "Industry Partner of the Year" for its work to complete five new landfill gas projects totaling 81 megawatts in capacity. The EPA also named Dairyland Power Cooperative its "Energy Partner of the Year" for participating in a 3-megawatt landfill gas project in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Ameresco also participated in that project. See the Ameresco press releases from December 28th and January 19th.

Companies are also working to convert forest thinnings and biomass-derived sugars into power. In Colorado, the Governor's Office of Energy Management and Conservation (OEMC) and DOE announced on January 24th that the coal-fired W.N. Clark Generating Station—owned by Aquila, Inc. and located in Canon City—is replacing part of its coal supply with biomass from local forest thinning operations. The plant plans to sell the environmental benefits achieved by this project by issuing Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), marking the first time that forest-derived biomass is used to create RECs. In Wisconsin, Virent Energy Systems is developing a demonstration project to convert sugars directly into hydrogen, which will help fuel a 5-kilowatt generator. The project will be the first to use Virent's patented Aqueous-Phase Reforming process. See the press releases from OEMC (PDF 31 KB) and Virent. Download Acrobat Reader.

Companies are also continuing to convert animal wastes into energy, relying primarily on anaerobic digesters, which convert the wastes into methane. Central Vermont Public Service (CVPS) supplies its entire green power program with anaerobic digesters, selling the resultant power as CVPS Cow Power. In mid-January, the 1,500-head Blue Spruce Farm in Bridport (west of Middlebury in west-central Vermont) began supplying power to the CVPS program, and is expected to produce 1.7 million kilowatt-hours of electricity each year. The anaerobic digester technology is growing in importance, and in December, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that it will work with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to advance the technology. See the press releases from CVPS (PDF 111 KB) and the USDA.