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

May 03, 2006

Florida Pursues Power from Grass, While Others Pitch Manure

Progress Energy Florida announced on May 1st that it has signed a 25-year contract to buy power from a plant fueled with grassy biomass. Biomass Investment Group, Inc. (BIG) plans to build a 130-megawatt power plant in Central Florida fueled with a crop it calls E-Grass, described as a fast-growing, high-yield perennial that is a member of the grass family. The company will grow the E-Grass as a dedicated energy crop and then convert it to biogas in its power plant, where the gas will be used to fuel a gas turbine. Once constructed, it will be the world's first commercial-scale "closed-loop" biomass power plant fueled with crops grown on site. Closed-loop biomass power plants are eligible for federal tax credits of 1.9 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity produced for the first 10 years of power production. See the Progress Energy press release and the BIG Web site.

While BIG develops its grass-fueled power plant in Florida, a partnership of 28 electric membership corporations (EMCs) in Georgia plans to draw some of its electricity from poultry litter. Green Power EMC has agreed to buy 20 megawatts of power from Earth Resources, Inc., which plans to build a poultry-litter gasification system near Carnesville, Georgia, about 70 miles northeast of Atlanta. The facility should start operating next summer. Earth Resources has already demonstrated its technology at a prototype facility that was funded with a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. See the Green Power EMC press release.

A number of other companies are deriving energy from cow manure. Microgy, Inc., a supplier of anaerobic digesters, recently signed an agreement to supply a multi-digester biogas production and gas conditioning facility at the Mission Dairy in Hereford, Texas. The facility will convert the manure from 10,000 cows into one billion cubic feet of biogas per year, supplying the methane to a nearby natural gas pipeline. The company, a subsidiary of Environmental Power Corporation, has also signed a Letter of Intent to provide a similar system at Swift & Company's beef processing plant in Grand Island, Nebraska. Central Vermont Public Service (CVPS) knows all about such systems: the CVPS Cow Power program sells green power produced from manure at the state's dairy farms. CVPS recently awarded $666,000 in grants to four farms that are expected to generate a total of 8.4 million kilowatt-hours per year. See the Environmental Power press releases about the Texas and Nebraska plants, as well as the CVPS press release (PDF 18 KB). Download Adobe Reader.