The US Department of Energy has approved the construction of one of the largest biomass facilities in the country to be built on the Savannah River Site. The facility will provide on-site power and be paid for by the savings anticipated over the next 15 years. It is expected to save the site $34 million dollars a year and is being built at the cost of $795 million. Savannah River Site Spokesman Jim Giusti says there are many advantages to the new facility.
“It reduces our emissions,” said Giusti. “This plant will annually reduce 100,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions from the site. It will save us money because it is going to be more efficient and more economical to operate then our current plant which, again, is a very old plant. It has outlived its usefulness and isn’t designed with the current technology of today.”
Giusti says that biomass products will be used to fuel the plant instead of coal. “Instead of using coal like our current plant on site, it will use wood chips and recycled shredded tires and other biomass materials that can be burned to generate steam and generate both steam for us for heating and operational purposes and some of our electrical requirements on site.”
Pat Burke, Project Manager of the biomass facility, says that some people may be concerned about the burning of tires but they need not be. According to Burke, “People get a little emotional with tires. We’re only going to burn a small quantity of tires and we’re permitted to burn up to 30 percent but we may not burn that much.
“It’s really going to be a fuction of the boiler. If the boiler can handle it, they will burn as many as they can but no more than 30 percent of the fuel will come from tires.”
The plant is expected to open by December of 2011.