Renewable energy facility announced for Augusta Corporate Park

A new renewable energy facility announced Thursday for Augusta Corporate Park will find its main source of power coming from neighboring Starbucks’ waste.

Augusta Renewable En­er­gy LLC will process used coffee grounds from the new Starbucks soluble plant as its primary renewable-energy source after the facility opens next year, according to an announcement from the Augusta Economic Develop­ment Authority.

Augusta Renewable Energy is spending about $20 million to build its first anaerobic digestion facility in Georgia. The company, a division of Columbia-based First Generation Energy, will create about 10 highly technical positions.

Construction of the site, which will span about eight acres of the industrial park off Mike Padgett Highway, is expected to start before the end of the year and be completed by mid- to late summer, said Daniel Rickenmann, the operating partner for First Generation Energy.

The 180,000-square-foot Starbucks plant has an opening date planned for early 2014.

“Primarily using coffee grounds, Augusta (Renewable) Energy will convert a landfill component into energy,” authority Chairman Henry Ingram said in a news release.

First Generation Energy is a diversified service company that provides zero-waste solutions and small power generation options for industries, food manufacturers, renewable energy and utilities. The company has formed a partnership with environmental technology provider Eisenmann for the installation and technical support during the plant’s implementation process. Caterpillar will assist with the facility, according to the authority. First Generation Energy also will provide a private label line of soil amendments through a partnership with an unnamed Fortune 200 company.

“Green energy is the wave of the future,” Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver said in a statement, “and Augusta Renewable Energy will do their part to make sure we are efficient in our energy needs in the years to come.”

ANAEROBIC DIGESTION

Anaerobic digestion is a process in which microorganisms break down organic waste material, such as coffee grounds, in the absence of oxygen and produce a solid residue and biogas, made primarily of methane and carbon dioxide.

Biogas can be used as a source of energy that’s similar to natural gas, and the solid residue can be used in land applications to improve soil.

Anaerobic digestion is beneficial for renewable energy generation, greenhouse gas emissions reduction and waste diversion.

Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

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