Organic Waste

Poultry waste will be processed by the biodigesters

The Sonoma County Water Agency is developing an Organic Waste/Fuel Cell Project to convert organic waste into clean power for the Agency’s water and wastewater facilities.

Envisioned as a public/private partnership, the private partner would provide one of the Agency’s public wastewater facilities with organic waste collected from Sonoma County poultry farms. Organic waste biodigesters would process the poultry waste into biomethane, which would be cleaned, stripped of CO2, dried, and injected into the local utility’s natural gas pipelines. Natural gas would be drawn from the pipelines to provide fuel for fuel cells at the Agency’s water and wastewater facilities with large electrical loads throughout the county. One of the fuel cells would be located with the biodigesters at the wastewater treatment plant. The excess heat from this fuel cell would be used to heat the biodigesters to maintain optimal biological conditions and dry the sludge from the biodigesters which would be sold as organic fertilizer.

The public/private partnership would optimize financing mechanisms such as renewable energy tax credits for the private entity and low interest municipal bond financing for the public entity resulting in a cost effective, long term energy contract that would not be vulnerable to the instability of market fluctuations in the fossil fuel energy markets. The Agency is investigating whether excess power could be sold through its power provider on the open market.

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