Sustainability : Fayetteville PWC and Bloom Energy to transform waste into clean community electricity

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The Fayetteville Public Works Commission (PWC) and Bloom Energy, a leading distributed energy company, announced plans to install and operate 1.5 megawatts of solid oxide fuel cells. Creating renewable energy from multiple biogas streams in the region, the new project will reduce emissions and advance the Fayetteville community’s efforts to meet North Carolina’s clean energy standards.

Bloom Energy’s fuel cells combine ambient air with fuel, such as biogas, to create electricity without combustion. Generating power from multiple biogas streams, the fuel cell installation – to be located adjacent to PWC’s P.O. Hoffer Water Treatment Facility – will be one of the first of its kind to blend multiple waste gas sources to produce clean, carbon-neutral electricity. The project will use biogas captured from PWC’s Cross Creak Water Reclamation facility, an adjacent landfill, and methane gases captured from local and neighboring swine farms.

As nations and cities continue to grow and urbanize, waste generation is expected to increase by 70 percent by 2050. Currently, waste gas generated from the wastewater treatment process and landfills is flared, a commonly used and controlled method for releasing the gas into the atmosphere, which contributes to air pollution. By reducing biogas flaring at the wastewater and landfill facilities, local emissions are averted, helping to improve air quality. The project will also use methane -- a potent greenhouse gas that accounts for 50 to 70 percent of biogas – from swine farms that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere.

By utilizing multiple biogas streams, the waste-to-electricity project will provide reliable, always-on, and carbon-neutral electricity to meet the power demands equivalent to more than 1,000 homes. Bloom Energy’s fuel cells will complement PWC’s existing renewable energy sources, helping meet PWC’s North Carolina Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard requirements.

The project will also complement the cleanup of industrial pollution that has threatened the Fayetteville community for more than two decades. Located adjacent to PWC’s P.O. Hoffer Water Treatment Facility, the fuel cell installation will also border the former Texfi industrial site, which is considered one of North Carolina’s most polluted sites due to residual industrial pollution and contaminated groundwater that poses a threat to the community’s drinking water and the Cape Fear River Basin.