Biomass power major part of eco-park plan

By | December 15, 2010

Forsite Development has finalized crucial decisions in the process of developing its 20-megawatt waste-to-energy plant along the Catawba River in Charlotte, N.C., just one part of a major undertaking by the company, as it seeks to transform a 667-acre Superfund site into the region’s first eco-industrial area dubbed ReVenture Park.

Most recently, the company announced it has chosen ICM Inc.’s gasification technology, coupled with emissions abatement systems from Eisenmann Corp. “We have been in an exhausting technology validation process,” said Forsite President Tom McKittrick. Together, the systems will help the plant reach more stringent new regulations coming from multiple fronts, including the U.S. EPA’s boiler Maximum Achievable Control Technology rule, which currently is due out in January but could be pushed to April 2012, pending on a court decision on the EPA’s extension request.

During the enormous ReVenture Park project, the contaminated land will be recycled and dedicated solely to renewable energy, according to McKittrick. Plans include a solar field, a wastewater treatment facility, energy crop demonstration stands, an ethanol mixing operation, and office space for research and development, among other aspects.

The $300 million biomass power plant is the element of the project furthest along in development, with memorandums of understanding signed for municipal solid waste from Mecklenburg County’s residential garbage collection, and negotiations in late stages for the sale of electricity, McKittrick said. The waste feedstock will first be processed at another proposed facility off-site, to be operated by Charlotte-based recycling firm FCR Casella. That $30 million facility will be permitted to process about 575,000 tons of garbage per year, supplying between 180,000 and 200,000 tons to ReVenture’s biomass plant, McKittrick said. The power plant will also be capable of using yard debris, although that will be processed separately.

Since the city of Charlotte recently approved those amendments to the garbage routing, allowing for a biomass supply, Forsite is now working on the power plant’s air permit. “We are in the process now of engineering work required for the air permit,” he said, adding that the permit will drive the timeline for construction and operation. The plant should be operational by 2013 and has consumed 90 percent of the ReVenture project focus from Forsite thus far, McKittrick said. “The anchor project is this 20-megawatt waste-to-energy plant,” he said.