SRS celebrates groundbreaking of biomass heating plant

By Ameresco | May 13, 2015

On May 11, senior officials from the U.S. Department of Energy, Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., and Ameresco, Inc. gathered for a ceremonial groundbreaking to mark the start of a new project for a biomass heating plant that will increase critical steam security and provide additional green power at DOE’s Savannah River Site.  The new biomass plant represents a subsequent modification (Phase II) to DOE’s original Energy Savings Performance Contract executed in 2009 for construction of the 20-MW biomass cogeneration facility currently operated and maintained by Ameresco at SRS. 

Wilson, David Moody, DOE Savannah River manager; and George Sakellaris, Ameresco president and CEO, participated in the project groundbreaking that promotes clean energy initiatives and efficiencies.

“The DOE/Ameresco project team have done a tremendous job since the inception of the SRS Biomass Cogeneration Project and this additional modification will add to the success,” Moody said.  “The SRS biomass cogeneration facility supports the department’s energy efficiency goals and this second plant will further advance our progress to meet national challenges in strategic areas like sustainability and clean energy.”

“I'm grateful to join DOE and Ameresco today to break ground on the biomass heating plant at the Savannah River Site,” Wilson said.  “This new facility will produce a steady and reliable source of steam for SRS, provides essential support to the ongoing critical national security and environmental clean-up missions, and will create 50 construction jobs in the process. Ameresco is a shining example of how the Energy Savings Performance Contracts can save taxpayer money while producing green energy.  For the past five years, I've been humbled to work closely with Ameresco. I congratulate them on launching a new phase of their operations and I am grateful for their creation of jobs in the Aiken-Barnwell community.”

“Partnering with the U.S. Department of Energy, the Savannah River Site, the State of South Carolina and our local and regional partners, we’ve built an award-winning, large-scale sustainable power resource that will provide even greater long term value as a result of the steam plant modifications,” Sakellaris said. “This innovative follow-on project at the SRS biomass cogeneration facility, funded by our ESPC, is an ongoing example of how public-private partnerships can continue to create transformative energy infrastructure for the 21st Century and beyond.”

The new plant will be located in the southeast corner of the existing 35 acre Ameresco site. The heating plant will include a new biomass fueled boiler and relocation of the existing package boiler to a new enclosed building.  Ameresco also will install a new truck tipper and fuel handing system to facilitate the biomass deliveries. The steam produced from the new plant will be supplied throughout SRS’s existing distribution system.  Providing steam from this new plant, will allow for the existing biomass cogeneration facility to direct more steam to the turbine generator resulting in approximately 3-4 MW of additional power for SRS.

During its first three years of operation the existing biomass facility has generated approximately 5.8 billion pounds of steam, over 1,400 million pounds of steam exported in support of site operations, and over 330,000 MW of electricity.

Under the ESPC modification, Ameresco will provide turnkey operations and maintenance (O&M) services for the new plant and equipment over the 20-year performance period of the contract. Ameresco also will purchase additional woody biomass from local and regional providers to support the new plant’s operations.  Construction on the project is expected to begin in June, and the plant is scheduled to be operational in the spring of 2016.  The existing biomass cogeneration facility will continue its normal operations during construction of the new plant.

ESPCs are contracts in which private companies finance, install, and maintain new energy- and water-efficient equipment in federal facilities. The government pays no up-front cost, therefore saving taxpayer dollars, and the company's investment is repaid over time by the agency from the cost savings generated by the new equipment.  This allows the government to use the private sector to purchase more energy-efficient systems and improve the energy performance of their facilities at no extra cost to the agency or taxpayers.