Campbell Soup and CH4 Biogas LLC to develop biogas plant in Ohio

Campbell says the plant will use direct waste generated from its soup, sauce and beverage facility

The partnership between Campbells Soup Company and CH4 Biogas L.L.C. (CH4), will create Ohio’s first commercial biogas power plant to generate renewable electricity.

The anaerobic digester will process material from area food processors, waste recyclers and local dairy farms, generating methane gas which will be used to fuel turbines - producing energy for Campbell’s existing beverage production, and offsetting fossil fuel use.

"plants such as the one being developed by Campbells and CH4 are vital in providing evidence that innovation in process and technology is making emerging renewable energy technologies viable..."
- see analysis below

According to a statement, the power generated for the beverage facility will replace about 25 percent of Campbell’s Napoleon facility’s annual electricity use. And in addition, a 15-year power purchase and services agreement will allow Campbell to use 100 percent of the electricity generated at a flat cost.

“This new biogas technology will improve Campbell’s Napoleon recycling rate to approximately 95 percent, reaching the company’s 2020 destination goal for the site early,” said Dave Stangis, Campbell’s Vice President of Public Affairs and Corporate Responsibility. “The use of biogas energy will reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with the use of electricity in this facility by approximately 16,000 metric tons per year, or the equivalent of 3,000 cars.”

Construction is underway and slated for completion in mid-2013. The site is adjacent to a 60-acre, 9.8 MW solar system constructed by BNB Renewable Energy Holdings for Campbell in 2011 that currently provides 15 percent of power for Campbell’s Napoleon facility.

Analysis and further information

According to Lauren Toretta, Vice President of CH4, “the conversion of waste to energy brings broad reaching benefits to the region and is a progressive step towards sustainable renewable energy solutions”.

But more than this, plants such as the one being developed by Campbells and CH4 are vital in providing evidence that innovation in process and technology is making emerging renewable energy technologies viable. Yes, Corporate Responsibility objectives allied to environmental issues act as a fillip, but the goal should be that technology choice be influenced more and more by commercial viability, and less by policy and politics.

At Renewable Energy Focus we recently tackled this issue head on in one of our webinars - Advanced Conversion: Maximising the Potential for Energy from Waste.

What we found when we looked into this topic was that despite a relatively simple process and endless supply of feedstocks, Energy from Waste is often overlooked when compared with other bioenergy technologies (not to mention the more high profile renewable technologies like wind and solar power). One reason for this is the challenge associated with generating energy from waste as efficiently as possible on the one hand, while maximising the environmental and social challenges.

Fortunately, there is a new generation of EfW technologies being developed that can convert waste into energy with minimal environmental impact - while maximising resource and energy recovery. So called Advanced Conversion Technologies (ACTs), which use residual, non-recyclable waste to produce a synthesis gas (syngas) to generate electricity and other energy outputs, have the potential to combat rising waste levels while helping meet the world’s need for a clean, safe energy supply. 

(I would encourage you to check out our webinar which gave a snapshot behind the development of Energy-from-Waste, and highlighted the benefits of ACTs. Highly thought-provoking stuff).

Do you want to go back to basics with anaerobic digestion? Check out our study here.

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