Massachusetts Plant Will Transform Trash Into Green Energy

<p>Dong Energy, who is leading the movement for offshore wind farms across the world, is now helping us turn our garbage into renewable biogas. Already established in the UK, the company will open a Western Massachusetts facility in 2020.</p>


May 21 2019, Updated 3:55 p.m. ET

What if regular household trash could transform into a renewable energy? It’s a process that Dong Energy has been studying for years and recently opened a large-scale factory in the United Kingdom to make it happen. Now they’ll be jumping into the United States and opening up a plant in Western Massachusetts.

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Dong Energy, which is based in Fredericia, Denmark, chose Massachusetts over other potential states like California and Maine. Perhaps the biggest reason was the company’s involvement with the state already. Dong has a partnership with Eversource and are working on the Bay State Wind project, which is an offshore wind farm that will be developed at least 15 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard. 

The Denmark-based company has the biggest portfolio when it comes to building the renewable resource that’s starting to become popular in the United States. Just a few miles north of the project will be a separate lower-capacity wind farm from Deepwater Wind. Dong is also partnered with Dominion Energy and is constructing another offshore wind farm off the coast of Virginia.

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Even with so much attention on these wind farms, Dong Energy has testing out the process of turning trash into renewable energy. Named “REnescience,” the technology involves liquefying the waste and turning it into biogas. Tanks filled with hot water will degrade the trash with enzymes after 18 hours. After that’s completed, the liquid goes through an aerobic digester and converts into gas. That result can be burned to create electricity, which is then sold into electric grids.

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Obviously, just dumping trash into a liquefying process would be quite dangerous without separating it. They have the ability to remove any recycled materials after cleaning them, and they would be sold into the recycling market. Any trash that doesn’t break down into a liquid will be sold to traditional fossil fuel plants to give them an alternative source. While leftover particles in tanks could be used to pave roads in the UK, they can’t do that yet in the United States.

To keep things further renewable, around 95 percent of water is reused in the degrading process, keeping them on a closed-loop cycle. It also provides 24 full-time jobs in the area after the 100 it creates for the construction of the plant. It’ll cost $80 million to create, but it will be a significant money maker as it will be selling the electricity it generates.

The exact location has not been established, but the facility won’t be located near a neighborhood. Lynch stated that it requires six acres and since the process will churn during the overnight hours and “there will be trash trucks arriving and leaving,” it will be noisy. Dong Energy hopes to break ground in the near future and has a goal of opening up in 2020.

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