MENANDS Going green can sometimes mean looking for innovations and opportunities in the least likely of places.
Albany County Sewer District and state officials have done just that, unveiling Wednesday, Oct. 30, a new multi-stage combined heat and power system at the county’s North Plant in Menands. The $8.6 million Organic Rankine Cycle heat-to-energy technology is the first installed in North America. The plant previously burned sludge for disposal, but the new system will recapture the heat generated from the process and generate up to 3.3 million kilowatt-hours of power annually.
The county is estimated to save $400,000 in energy costs annually, with the new system reducing up to 75 percent of its electric grid usage. During colder months, the heat will also be captured and used to warm up buildings.
“Ideas like this, that use what was once considered waste to produce energy, need to be examined not only as environmentally friendly and economically viable, but also as an example of how government can be more efficient, effective and accountable to the taxpayers,” Albany County Executive Dan McCoy said in a statement.
McCoy said the renewable energy source would reduce the county’s carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 1,500 tons annually, along with reusing around 50,000 gallons of water daily to cool the system.
“In short order, the Sewer District will be saving electricity, water and natural gas while reducing greenhouse gases with one of the most advanced and innovative projects constructed in the state,” McCoy said.
New York State Environmental Facilities Corp. President and CEO Matthew Driscoll said the county competed against almost 300 other green projects in the state’s Green Innovation Grant Program to win funding for the project.
“A primary goal of the Green Innovation Grant Program is to increase the awareness and use of sustainable, energy-saving technologies in New York,” Driscoll said, “and Albany County’s unique system will undoubtedly spur similar projects in the rest of the state.”