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Maryland releases RFP for purchase of power from animal waste

By Lisa Gibson | October 25, 2011

In an effort to promote renewable energy, create jobs and reduce Maryland’s contribution to agricultural runoff polluting the Chesapeake Bay, the state released a request for proposals (RFP) for the purchase of 10 megawatts of power produced from animal waste.

To qualify for the project, dubbed Clean Bay Power, applicants must be producing commercial electricity by Dec. 31, 2015. In addition, qualified systems are only those connected directly to the grid and exclude behind the meter operations, according to Michael Heintz, Maryland Energy Administration’s representative on the proposal. “I’ve been told there are larger digester systems that already exist but are not connected to the grid,” he said. “They are free to apply so long as they meet the requirements in the RFP.  That said, new developments are also open to bid, and I think most bidders will be for new facilities.”

Clean Bay Power is an effort conducted by the Maryland Department of General Services, in coordination with the Maryland departments of agriculture, natural resources, environment, the Maryland Energy Administration, and the University of Maryland. The application deadline is Nov. 30 and the selected projects should be announced in the first quarter of 2012, Heintz said.

“Animal manure was chosen for this project because we were looking for a renewable source of electricity that will also have positive environmental benefits on the Chesapeake Bay,” Heintz said. The use of manure as fertilizer in the agricultural industry is causing a high level of nitrogen and phosphorus loading into the bay watershed, leading to decreased oxygen and increased algae, among other negative impacts. The primary contributors are poultry operations on the eastern shore and dairy operations to the north and west, Heintz said.

If fully implemented, Clean Bay Power will almost double the amount of renewable electricity purchased by the state, bringing it close to 30 percent. 

"By reducing the nutrient loading, through the decreased use of manure as a fertilizer, we hope to have positive impacts on bay water quality,” Heintz said. “By seeking power projects sourced from animal manure, we believe we will redirect a significant amount of manure from being used as fertilizer to an electricity fuel source.”  

 

2 Responses

  1. Tony W.

    2011-11-01

    1

    Fertilizers are necessary for plant growth, be they natural (manure) or man-made a la chemical. I don't understand how importing feed / food causes more fertilizer run-off than growing it locally. This is counter-intuitive if not non-sensical. Maybe the problem is the volume of fertilizer - manure or chemical - use and the over-application to less-than-optimally tilled areas? I can't imagine anyone over-using ANYTHING in these tight times...... My last trip thru DelMarVa was 29OCT11 - and I saw a lot of soybeans adjacent to Rte 13. I am in favor of manure as fertilizer - but the chickenshit can be digested for power as far as I am concerned. Since politicians are involved, I am sure there will be an abundance of crap in this process. My two cents worth / regards / Tony W.

  2. Scott Rowe

    2011-10-26

    2

    What effect will this effort have on air quality? What becomes of the nutrient-laden leftovers (ash or biosolids) that result from the process? Can they be sent back to the corn/soybean belt -- where some of the nutrients originated in the form of grain and oilseed -- to be reused as fertilizer? If not, we will still have a buildup of nutrients in the Chesapeake Bay region but in a different form. It's very simple: If we continue to import feed/food into the region for livestock and human use, and we don't export the excreted nutrients, we will have an excess.

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