Poultry Droppings to fuel Power Plant
A Pennsylvania energy company has settled on Sampson
County for the state's first power plant fueled by poultry
Fibrowatt announced plans for the 300-acre site, bolstered
by $2.5 million in financial incentives, in the heart of
Eastern North Carolina's poultry processing region, where
chicken farms will provide the fuel source.
It took Fibrowatt three years to get to this point, but much
work remains for the company to overcome remaining
logistical hurdles and assure skeptics that it won't be a
The plant, about three miles from Faison off Interstate 40,
would burn about 500,000 tons of chicken droppings a
year, about half of the poultry waste generated in the
eastern part of the state.
The Sampson County Board of Commissioners is to
consider tax breaks next week that would relieve Fibrowatt
of paying about 24 percent of its property taxes for 10
The company still has to get financing for a project that
would cost more than $200 million to build. Lenders
require that Fibrowatt demonstrate it can count on a
long-term source of fuel from poultry farmers. Fibrowatt
has signed contracts with hundreds of farmers.
It also has to find a buyer for the electricity the plant would
produce. Fibrowatt is in talks with Progress Energy and
Duke Energy and is negotiating details. Such contracts are
typically signed for 20-year terms.
Several environmental groups have decried poultry-waste
burning as nothing more than waste incineration that emits
two major pollutants: sulfur oxides and nitrogen oxides.
Some emission levels from poultry-waste power plants are
comparable to those of a modern coal-burning power plant.
However, Fibrowatt officials say that, unlike burning coal,
burning poultry droppings introduces no new carbon
dioxide into the atmosphere. That's because carbon
released by burning coal had been trapped deep
underground for millions of years. But the carbon released
from poultry waste has been continually recycled in the
Earth's environment, similar to the carbon dioxide released
when people breath.
The Sampson County plant would begin operating in 2011.
Over time, Fibrowatt would like to build three power plants
in the state fueled by chicken and turkey droppings.
According to the company, the poultry droppings are
delivered in covered trucks to a fuel storage building,
which typically holds five to 10 days of fuel. The building is
designed to prevent odours from escaping.
The plant would generate 55 megawatts, about 1/20th the
size of a typical nuclear plant. Like a nuclear or
coal-burning plant, the Fibrowatt plant would operate 24
hours a day, seven days a week. And it would have a
similar life span.
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