Local renewables fuel US companies

By Steve Hodgson, Cogeneration and On-site Power Production Magazine. 

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.