AD plant permitted for South Carolina

By Lisa Gibson | January 26, 2011

Columbia, S.C., will soon be the home of an anaerobic digestion (AD) facility that will process organic waste streams from a multitude of industrial sources to eventually generate 3.2 megawatts of clean power. The project has just received its final solid waste permit from the State Department of Health and Environmental Control.

South Carolina-based developer W2E is a small technology business looking to establish applications of the system, developed by Eisenmann Corp., all over the Eastern United States. For its Columbia location, the company has feedstock contracts in place with Walmart, Quest Recycling, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Harvest Hope Food Bank, Pontiac Foods, Farmers’ Market and many others. The organic waste will consist of food, grease, produce and yard waste among others. In phase one of the build-out, the facility will take in about 26,500 tons of organic waste per year and produce 1.6 MW of electricity, working its way up to 50,000 tons per year and 3.2 MW, according to W2E CEO Daniel Rickenmann.

The power will be sold to the grid through a variety of users, Rickenmann said, and power purchase agreements are being negotiated. With its solid waste permit in place, W2E is only waiting for the county to finish its construction permit before beginning construction. “Then we can actually start digging some dirt,” he said. “We’re looking to be able to start accepting waste at the end of the year.”

Besides power, the facility will also produce a soil amendment that will be used in local agriculture as well as commercial and residential landscape applications, according to the company.

Although AD plants are capital intensive to build, they provide a two-pronged solution to the alternative energy arena, according to W2E. They reduce pressure on landfills and produce biogas that can be used for electricity or green products. W2E is moving along in the development of two other similar facilities, one in Gastonia, N.C., and the other in Baton Rouge, La. Rickenmann said the company is three-quarters of the way finished with permitting in Louisiana and is just beginning in North Carolina.