The New York Power Authority (NYPA) has commissioned Northern Power Systems, a subsidiary of Distributed Energy Systems Corp., to design and install a 165-kilowatt power generation system for the New York City Department of Environmental Protection at its Owl's Head Wastewater Treatment Facility in Brooklyn, N.Y.
The water treatment site will be the first wastewater facility in the country to install multiple Stirling engines to generate its own electricity. Manufactured by STM Power, the three 55-kilowatt Stirling external combustion engines are designed to burn anaerobic digester gas, a byproduct of the wastewater treatment process that is currently flared into the atmosphere.
By burning digester methane, the Owl's Head facility will experience several benefits. First, by converting a waste byproduct of its process into a free, renewable fuel source, the facility is expected to lower its energy costs. Second, the system will create an environmental benefit by providing an overall net reduction of up to 765 tons of CO2 per year, as well as significant reductions in NOx and SO2 emissions. Finally, by generating its electricity onsite, the facility will help reduce congestion on the area's over-stressed utility grid.
Because it is designed to capture waste fuel at the site and generate electricity while simultaneously reducing emissions, the system qualifies as a renewable power source. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority is supporting the project with a grant of $250,000 in recognition of the energy and environmental benefits that the system is expected to deliver.
The new turnkey system will include Northern Power's SmartView monitoring and control software, which will have an on-site interface and provide NYPA with remote, web-based access from the authority's offices in White Plains, N.Y.
Drawing from experience with other wastewater treatment facilities, Northern Power designed an optimal technology solution for the Owl's Head site. Because Stirling external combustion engines require less frequent maintenance than microturbine or reciprocating engine technology, the facility is expected to experience increased uptime and reduced parasitic system loads. The engines also offer the potential for reduced gas cleanup and less gas compression than other technologies, which can reduce installation costs.
The project is also part of a larger initiative on the part of New York to voluntarily increase renewable energy capacity in an effort to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions.
"This project demonstrates a new technology option for wastewater treatment plants, making it an exciting development not only for Owl's Head, but for treatment plants throughout the country," stated Jim Stover, project manager for Northern Power. "More and more businesses and public entities are taking advantage of their existing waste streams to create green energy; systems like this one can allow plants to reduce costs and achieve energy objectives simultaneously."
Northern Power is undertaking this project under its master implementation contract with NYPA to design and install distributed generation (DG) projects across the state. Northern Power is currently implementing multiple DG projects for NYPA with a combined contract value of over $5 million.
"This project serves to further enhance Northern Power’s position as the premier provider of turnkey power systems," stated Darren Jamison, chief operating officer at Northern Power. "Given our broad range of innovative technology solutions, we are well positioned to provide businesses and municipalities with reliable solutions that are cost effective as well as environmentally friendly."