US Virgin Islands to develop 2 waste-to-energy plants

By Anna Austin
The U.S. Virgin Islands will soon become home to two waste-to-energy facilities that will collectively process 146,000 tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) per year for the production of fuel, steam and electricity.

Virgin Islands Gov. John deJongh unveiled the project in August. He said the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority (WAPA) signed two 20-year power purchase agreements (PPAs) and the Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority signed two 20-year solid waste management services agreements with Alpine Energy Group LLC, an alternative energy facility constructor/operator based in Denver. WAPA selected Alpine over 14 other proposals that were submitted
The PPAs between Alpine and the WAPA will now be forwarded to the Public Services Commission for review.

The $440 million project will serve the three main islands-St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix-with a total population of more than 100,000 residents.

The technology to be implemented at the facilities, provided by Tennessee-based WastAway Services LLC, breaks MSW down into a homogenous material and shreds it into a product called Fluff. The Fluff, which has the consistency of wood pulp, is further processed and sent through a separation procedure that removes any remaining ferrous and nonferrous metals, and can then be pelletized for conversion into steam and energy, synthetic fuels, or used as a growing medium.

A typical WastAway system can transform 100 tons of garbage per day into fuel. The fuel produced at the two new facilities will be mixed with petroleum coke for power production.

DeJongh, who has been in office since 2007, said it will be the first time in the history of the Virgin Islands that fossil fuels will not be used to generate electricity and provide potable water. It is hoped that the project will inspire other Caribbean nations facing similar landfill and solid waste challenges to consider alternative and renewable energy fuel sources, he said, to make energy more affordable for utility customers.