The Narragansett Bay Commission operates two Rhode Island wastewater treatment plants, and has announced plans to alter processes so that the plants may convert sludge into energy. This is according to Jamie Samons, public affairs manager of the Bay Commission.
In 2016, the Bay Commission announced a goal to be 100% renewable by 2020, and this announcement comes in the middle of that timeline. The two plants will begin to utilize a biogas generation facility before the end of the month, allowing them to produce power from waste.
In the past, the methane gas produced by sludge was either used or released as heat, but many plants throughout the world are beginning to build the necessary facilities to harvest and use the gas to power the plant, in many cases allowing plants to be entirely self-sustainable.
Bucklin Point, one of the two subject plants here, required an $8.2 million implementation of the biogas generation facility. However, this cost will begin to pay for itself after some time. According to Samons, the Bay Commission currently spends $12 to $15 million annually on electricity. This price will virtually disappear when the generational facilities are fully operational.
While the cost-effective nature of biogas utilization is an obvious incentive, the environmental benefits of such technology is clear as well, utilizing renewable energy while significantly reducing the costs necessary to produce electricity. Eventually, these plants may be able to produce excess energy that they could be paid to redirect elsewhere.