PROJECT COST: $183 million

Biomass Cogeneration Facility
Biomass Cogeneration Facility

The U.S. Dept. of Energy estimates the $183-million Biomass Cogeneration Facility at the Savannah River Site in Aiken, S.C., will save about $35 million annually in energy, operations and maintenance costs while reducing air emissions.

The plant, which replaces an existing 1950s-era coal and oil-fired plant, broke ground in November. The DOE contracted with Ameresco Federal Solutions, a privately owned energy services company based in Framingham, Mass., to finance, design, construct, operate, maintain and fuel the new biomass facility for 20 years. The contract is valued at $795 million.

Forestry residues, typically left to rot when timber is harvested, will fuel the facility. Ameresco will build the steam cogeneration facility and install two steam boilers. The plant will have the capacity to produce 240,000 lbs per hour of steam and 20 megawatt hours of electricity.

The company will be reimbursed from cost savings generated during the 15-year debt service payback period. The continuing cost savings will accrue to the DOE.

The department estimates the facility each year will decrease particulate matter emissions by 400 tons, sulfur dioxide emissions by 3,500 tons and carbon dioxide emissions by 100,000 tons. It also will decrease water intake from the Savannah River by 1.4 million gallons per year.

Secretary of Energy Steven Chu estimated the construction project will employ 800 workers during the 30-month schedule. Completion is targeted for December 2011.

Key Facts:

Location: Savannah River Site, Aiken, S.C.
Owner: Department of Energy, Savannah River Operations, Aiken, S.C.
Design-build Developer and Operator: Ameresco Federal Solutions,Framingham, Mass.
Start Date: November 2009
Completion Date: December 2011

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