To be eligible, plants must have a capacity of up 10 MW, connect directly to the regional electricity grid, and be able to start supplying electricity to the state by December 2015.
The Clean Bay Power project aims not only to increase the state’s use of renewable power, but to reduce agricultural runoff to the Chesapeake Bay. Nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus have contributed to the bay’s declining health.
Traditionally, many poultry farmers have reused their manure as fertilizer. But this practice can wash phosphates into waterways, causing algae blooms that deplete oxygen levels.
That facility was fined $65,000 just after starting operations, for allegedly emitting too much carbon monoxide and other pollutants.
Although litter combustion facilities are rare on the utility scale, several agribusinesses use chicken and cattle waste to power their own operations.
Last year Olivera Egg Ranch announced plans to run poultry waste through a digester system, and use this to power a fuel cell.
General Electric has tested a biogas cogeneration plant powered by the manure produced by 4,000 cows, for a dairy in Ukraine.
HP’s research arm, HP Labs, has designed a system that combines cow manure with the heat output of data centers. The company says a farm with 10,000 dairy cows can meet the power requirements of a medium-sized, 1-megawatt (MW) data center with enough power left over to support other electrical requirements on the farm.
And a Chinese dairy farm last year announced plans to use 250,000 cows to fuel the world’s largest cow manure-fed biogas power project, with electricity going to the state grid.
Maryland’s renewable energy portfolio standard requires electric suppliers to buy 20 percent of their power from clean energy sources by 2022.
Picture credit: Jayme Frye