Maryland’s state Board of Public Works has approved a biomass project at an Eastern Shore prison. The project gives Virginia company EcoCorp a 30-year lease of a 4.2-acre site at the Eastern Correctional Institute at an annual rent of $100, writes the Baltimore Sun.
EcoCorp will build anaerobic digester that will generate electricity out of a mixture of crops and chicken manure. The company will invest about $5 million to build the plant, and the state will commit to buy the power at an agreed rate for the next 20 years, the Sun said.
The plant will use 5,500 tons of chicken and other poultry manure a year, to provide about one-third of the electricity needed to operate the prison complex. It is one of the first facilities in the U.S. to fuel anaerobic digestion with chicken manure. Other plants has primarily used cow manure, the Sun said.
Use of biomass renewable energy is relatively new in the U.S. The University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh spent much of 2011 constructing the country’s first installation of a dry anaerobic bio-digester. The plant started operations in October.
A $255-million biomass power plant is under construction in Rothschild, Wisconsin. The plant is a joint project with We Energies and Domtar Corp. and is on schedule to be complete by late summer of 2013, the Wausau Daily Herald said.
The plant will burn about 500,000 tons of biomass, and the project will help We Energies comply with state regulations requiring at least 8 percent of utilities’ sales to come from renewable energy sources by 2015, the Daily Herald said.