US’ Largest Biogas Plant Being Built in North Carolina

The U.S. will be seeing its largest utility-scale plant producing energy and transportation fuel from animal and food waste.

Colorado-based Carbon Cycle Energy (C2e) broke ground Dec. 15 on the $100-million facility, near Warsaw, N.C. Expected to be completed in late 2017, the plant is the first of serveral biogas treatment facilities planned by the company. These facilities will utilize anaerobic digestion as a step in the process of producing biogas.

The company said that the biogas facility, called C2e Renewables NC, will be able to process in excess of 750,000 tons of organic waste per year. That would equate to 290,000 megawatt hours (Mwh) of electricity. It will surpass the capacity of any other standalone facility in the U.S., said C2e CEO James Powell.

C2e Renewables NC is expected to generate enough biogas per day, once the plant reaches full capacity, to be equal to about 50,000 gallons of diesel fuel.

It will be of much interest to fleets using, or considering purchasing, renewable natural gas and renewable diesel in their trash trucks and other utility vehicles. Fleets and cargo carriers can use these clean fuels directly in their natural gas vehicles and diesel trucks without having to pay for vehicle conversions.

“Utility-scale” renewable energy is defined as being on a scale equal to 10 megawatts or larger by the California Energy Commission.

“The sheer size of this project means that it will have a huge environmental impact both by addressing the major pollution problem caused by greenhouse gas emissions from decomposing food and animal waste, and by producing an alternative to fossil fuels in commercially significant volumes,” Powell said.

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Once the biogas is produced in the Warsaw plant, it will be sent nationwide through the natural gas pipeline system. The company has secured access to a few sources of organic waste, including manure, other agricultural waste, and industrial food processing waste.

C2e uses anaerobic digesters to convert the waste into raw biogas. The fuel is upgraded at the facility, and then injected directly into the natural gas pipeline system for distribution.

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