GE’s (NYSE: GE) Waukesha gas engines factory manufactured and recently delivered two, 1-megawatt (MW) cogeneration sets for the Forest County Potawatomi Community’s (FCPC) planned biogas combined heat and power (CHP) project in Milwaukee’s Menomonee Valley. The biogas project will convert waste from area food processing operations into a reliable supply of renewable energy for the tribal community as well as the local grid.
GE delivered the two Waukesha APG1000 Enginator biogas engines to FCPC on April 13. The Waukesha plant employs 680 people, including 385 production workers.
An anaerobic digester will process the food processor waste-to-produce biogas that will fuel GE’s Waukesha engines in the CHP plant. The engines are designed specifically to run on biogases that are rich in methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Burning the methane in a reciprocating engine reduces the amount of gas that can escape into the atmosphere.
The two generator sets will produce a total of 2 MW of renewable electricity, enough to power about 1,500 Milwaukee-area homes. The biogas plant’s electricity will be sold to WE Energies and can assist the utility in meeting the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, which requires a certain portion of the utility’s power be generated by renewable energy sources. The Potawatomi Tribe expects the CHP plant to begin operation in April 2013.
GE’s high-efficiency gas engines are designed to make the most power for the fuel they consume, with benefits for both the plant owner and the environment. The CHP process recovers what would normally be “waste” heat from the engines’ operation. This effectively doubles the Waukesha units’ total efficiency, producing the greatest amount of usable power from the fuel burned in the engine. The Potawatomi Tribe’s Milwaukee operations may use the engines’ heat for a variety of heating and cooling purposes, potentially including the tribe’s planned new hotel.
“Renewable energy projects, like this biogas facility, make both environmental and economic sense,” said Jeff Crawford, attorney general for the Forest County Potawatomi Community. “In addition to increasing the amount of renewable energy being used and saving on energy costs, this project also benefits Wisconsin’s economy. Wisconsin is fortunate to have a number of companies, like GE Energy, that manufacture the components that make these projects possible.”
“While gases from landfills, animal waste and wastewater treatment facilities have long been used as fuel in power generation systems, the use of food waste as a source of biogas for these types of installations is still relatively new,” said Brian White, president of GE Energy’s Waukesha gas engines business. “The Waukesha team is excited to work closely with the Forest County Potawatomi Community to successfully bring this project to fruition as Wisconsin and other states work to diversify their energy supplies.“
Wisconsin has been at the forefront of the U.S. agricultural industry’s efforts to deploy technologies that convert animal and food wastes into new sources of renewable energy. For example, in the last several years, a growing number of Wisconsin dairy farms have installed GE’s Jenbacher biogas engines to generate renewable electricity for onsite uses and the local grid. For example, GE’s Jenbacher biogas engine technology is generating 633 kilowatts (kW) at the Crave Brothers Farm, LLC in Waterloo, Wis.
The Potawatomi Tribe CHP project illustrates how GE’s comprehensive suite of distributed power solutions—ranging in size from 100 kW to 100 MW—are helping customers worldwide to generate more reliable, on-site electricity and heat. The project also exemplifies the company’s focus on the food and beverage industry. GE’s dedicated Food and Beverage Solutions organization is bringing energy management, CHP and other waste-to-value solutions to the industry, benefitting the companies involved and surrounding communities.
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