Biomass replaces coal in S.C.

The 20 MW Biomass Cogeneration Facility, powered by Ameresco, Inc., has started production at the Savannah River Site (SRS) in Aiken, S. C. The project, which replaces a coal powerhouse that previously generated power at the site, is one of the largest renewable Energy Savings Performance Contracts (ESPC) in U.S history.

The project sustained and created an estimated 800 jobs, spanning the mechanical, construction, engineering, and supplier sectors. Fully operational, the plant will employ 25 full-time jobs onsite and support the local logging community.

The SRS Biomass Cogeneration Facility replaced a 1950s-era coal powerhouse and oil-fired boilers, and is expected to generate an estimated $944 million in savings in energy, operation and maintenance costs over the duration of the contract. The switch is also expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 100,000 tons per year.

The Department of Energy signed onto an ESPC with Ameresco in 2009 to finance, design, construct, operate, maintain and fuel the new biomass facility under a 20-year fixed price contract valued at $795 million.

The project was also the recipient of PennWell’s 2012 Renewable Energy World Biomass Project of the Year.

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