Local renewables fuel US company needs

Steve Hodgson

While arguments continue to rage over President Obama’s Clean Power Plan – a coalition of 24 states and a coal mining company have filed lawsuits to challenge the flagship legislation – companies and local government bodies in the US are quietly celebrating recognition of their efforts to expand the use of energy from their own, on-site, renewable energy projects.

Car manufacturer General Motor’s pickup truck assembly plant in Fort Wayne, Indiana; the New Belgium Brewing Company facility in Fort Collins, Colorado; and the Californian City of Haywood’s water pollution control facility have all been honoured by the US Environmental Protection Agency under its EPA Green Power Partnership. All three employ biogas-fuelled CHP plants.

GM uses over 100 MW of solar, landfill gas and waste-to-energy schemes in its plants across the US, and plans to add wind power to its on-site renewables portfolio. At the Fort Wayne plant, the company uses a CHP scheme fuelled with landfill gas to supply over 40% of the site’s electricity load. Curiously, GM isn’t the only automobile maker to use landfill gas – BMW’s facility in Greer, South Carolina also uses the waste-derived gas to fuel an 11 MW CHP plant. Together with some on-site solar power, the company meets a fifth of its electricity needs from on-site renewables at Greer. And BMW has recently opened a biogas-fuelled CHP scheme at its Pretoria manufacturing plant in South Africa.
New Belgium

Meanwhile, the New Belgium Brewery uses solar and biogas systems to generate nearly 13% of the organization's electricity use; its process water treatment facility captures by-product methane and uses the biogas to fuel its CHP system. Last, the City of Haywood uses a 1.1 MW CHP scheme, fuelled with biogases produced in its own waste digestion process, and solar technology to generate more power than it uses, exporting the excess.

The EPA’s Green Power Partnership also honours US companies which purchase externally-generated green energy, helping to develop the market for green power.

The largest on-site generators are Wal-Mart Stores (solar), Apple (biogas and solar), the US Department of Energy (biomass, solar and wind) and Coca-Cola (biogas and solar). None of these companies need to be dragged into the cleaner, locally-sourced energy age – they are all enjoying the cost and security benefits of their own renewable supplies.

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