When GE announced the creation of its Advanced Manufacturing and Software Technology Center outside of Detroit, Michigan last year — expected to attract more than 1,300 scientists and engineers focused on information technology, clean energy and aviation R&D — it was a boost to the state’s hard-hit economy. But thanks to an innovative partnership, GE technology is about to make the Great Lake State a little greener, too, by transforming waste by-products into energy. GE is supplying the engines for the Visteon Woodland Meadows Project, a new renewable energy cogeneration facility that will turn nearby landfill gas into electricity and useable heat. Hoosier Energy explains the new project in detail in the video below.
As the Hoosier team described, next door to the 265-acre Visteon site, a corporate park that will house the new GE center, is the Woodland Meadows landfill, which takes in up to 2 million tons of waste from the Detroit area each year. As the garbage decomposes, it produces methane — a greenhouse gas — most of which is burned off and released into the atmosphere. “The tragedy is, that’s energy that’s just being wasted,” said Don Spieth, renewables growth leader for GE Power & Water. “We’re always going to have waste, but it’s about finding ways to convert that waste into energy, and we have the technology to do it.”
GE is partnering with Ameresco, an independent energy services company that owns the rights to the landfill gas, to supply four GE Energy Jenbacher engines that will convert the methane into electricity in a new cogeneration facility Ameresco will build on the Visteon site. The odorless methane will be pumped from the landfill through underground pipes to the facility, which will be owned and operated by Hoosier Energy, an energy cooperative that provides electricity to a network of distributors in the Midwest and has partnered with GE and Ameresco on another landfill gas project in Indiana.
Hoosier will pump the nearly 11 megawatts of electricity generated by the engines — enough to power more than 6,000 homes — onto the local grid in Michigan, while the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions will be equivalent to taking more than 87,000 cars off the road each year. The video below takes a look at the Indiana site.
But the gas isn’t the only by-product that will be turned into a valuable commodity. Visteon, which currently powers its boiler system with natural gas, will use the waste heat generated by the Jenbacher engines to fuel its heating system, cutting down on the amount of natural gas it needs by 60 to 65 percent and saving the company about $350,000 annually over the facility’s lifetime. As a result, they’ll be able to offer lower lease rates to local businesses.
The $25 million project will also create up to 100 skilled construction jobs and boost the local tax base, said Caleb Steiner, a renewable energy specialist at Hoosier. With most of the design phase completed, Hoosier expects the facility to be up and running by July 2011, pending zoning approval. “We strive to walk the walk at GE, so we’ve been looking for opportunities to have cogeneration at our facilities,” Spieth said. “This was a perfect match.”
Learn more in these GE Reports stories:
* “GE’s new Michigan tech jobs to balloon past 1,300”
* “Jenbachers power Australia with waste coal mine gas”
* “GE’s Jenbacher: A burning desire for manure in Wis.”
* “GE powers China’s largest chicken waste biogas plant”
* “The sweet smell of success: GE’s landfill gas win”
* Visit the tech center’s website