September 26, 2008 The largest power supply cooperative in the US has announced plans to build up to three 100MW biomass electric generating facilities in the state of Georgia. Oglethorpe Power Corporation’s (OPC’s) power plants are designed to be carbon-neutral and utilize woody biomass, one of Georgia’s most abundant renewable resources.
OPC has secured options for five potential sites in Appling, Echols, Warren and Washington counties but the exact location of the plants is yet to be determined. The first two biomass power plants are scheduled to be built and placed into operation in 2014 and 2015. A third unit could also be completed and placed into service in 2015. The power plants will provide power to OPC’s 38 member cooperatives, which supply electricity to nearly half of Georgia’s population.
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The new plants will be steam-electric generation stations using conventional fluidized bed boiler/steam turbine technology. Fuel for the plants will consist of a woody biomass mixture, including processed roundwood (like chipped pulpwood), primary manufacturing residue (wood waste from sawmills) and harvest residue (wood remaining in forests after clearing). The plants will be designed to allow for the co-firing of other types of biomass, such as pecan hulls and peanut shells. There are no plans to use any fossil fuels and the exact control technologies utilized will be determined as part of the permitting process. It is likely, however, that the plants will include filter baghouses for reduction of particulate emissions and selective non-catalytic reduction (SNCR) for control of NOx.
Depending on the location, water would be obtained either from onsite wells, nearby surface waters, from municipal sources or grey water from nearby industries. The average spend on the facilities will range from $400-500 million per biomass plant, with each providing around 40 full time jobs. A further annual investment of more than $30 million per plant for fuel stock will also create a need for potentially hundreds of new jobs in the state’s forestry industry.