A Sumter company with regional offices in Raleigh will design, build and operate a biomass energy generating facility. BioEnergy Technologies is one of the first South Carolina-based companies to use residue from farms and food processing operations to create methane gas, which in turn is used to make electricity.
The heat generated by the electricity generation equipment can also be recovered and used to produce hot water or steam heating for a host facility.
The plant’s site will either be in South Carolina or North Carolina. That decision will be made as soon as a feasibility study is completed.
The first facility will generate between 1.5 and 3 megawatts of electricity. One-point-five megawatts will serve approximately 1000 homes.
BioEnergy plans to build facilities on either farms that generate large amounts of waste or a plant called switch grass, or at food processing operations that produce manure, fats, oils and grease as byproducts.
BioEnergy President and CEO Greg Thompson says the concept has been used with success in Europe for more than 25 years. “Our recent energy crisis has really brought to light that we need to look at alternative ways of developing energy in this country. And there is now incentive to get this industry started. Renewable power standards(RPS) are being adopted across the US. South Carolina hasn’t adopted a renewable energy standard yet but we’re hoping they see the need.”
The US Department of Energy reports that last year renewable sources of energy accounted for 7.3 percent of energy consumption.
Thompson says biomass power generation is a developing opportunity for South Carolina farmers. “We’ve mapped the entire state and we see a number of farms that would support a biomass plants. ”
Thompson says another step is to negotiate an economically viable price with utility companies for the sale of the power.
Thompson says there is evidence that biomass energy production works. “We just toured the first biomass plant our partner started in Eugene, Oregon. Stallbush Farms. He was taking his waste silage from his fields, and instead of selling it for $10 a ton for fertilizer, was using it in his biomass plant and yielding $40 a ton.”