Biogas projects break ground, begin operations

By Anna Austin | April 19, 2011

Two biogas recovery projects located in California and in Texas have each reached milestones recently, one having broken ground and the other commencing operations.

The companies involved in the development of the wastewater treatment plant biogas clean-up facility in California’s San Diego County formally broke ground on the project early this week.

Trident Biofuels Energy will process biogas received from anaerobic digesters at the Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant, cleaning and upgrading it for injection into the natural gas pipeline system, which is operated by San Diego Gas & Electric Co.

Frank Mazanec of BioFuels Energy LLC, the project developer, said the facility will be the first in the California to inject treated biogas into the pipeline since the California Public Utilities Commission authorized the concept in 2009.

The project is slated to be operational by October. 

Dallas is positioned to save up to $1.5 million per year with the commissioning of a biogas energy recovery plant at the Dallas Water Utilities Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The 4.3-megawatt facility, which was designed and built by Ameresco Inc., will provide power and heat to DWU’s facilities, offsetting 60 percent of the energy that it pulls from the grid. Ameresco Senior Vice President Michael Bakas said that since the facility can capture waste heat and reuse it, about 80 percent of the biogas produced will be utilized, while a typical electricity production plant might only be able to use 35 percent of its energy product. 

Previously, methane was burned off at the wastewater treatment plant with flares. The new plant has the ability to capture and treat up to 1,200 standard cubic feet of biogas per minute, and could expand in the future.

Ameresco opened an additional biogas plant in Texas last September along with the San Antonio Water System Dos Rios Water Recycling Center.