Albany, N.Y., considers power from MSW

By Lisa Gibson | November 16, 2011

Connecticut-based Green Waste Energy Inc. was the only developer to submit a project proposal to the Albany, N.Y., Port District Commission by the Oct. 31 deadline, so its $60 million waste-to-energy proposal is a distinct possibility for the city.

Green Waste Energy’s proposal would convert municipal solid waste (MSW) into 9 megawatts (MW) of power using an autoclave process, followed by syngas production through pyrolysis. About 1.3 MW will be used to power the plant, while the remaining electricity will be sold to the grid and capable of powering up to 10,000 homes.

“There is absolutely no combustion whatsoever,” Joe Kerecman, Green Waste Energy chief operating officer, said of the oxygen-free, endothermic pyrolysis process.  

The plant would sit on an 18-acre site that the commission is looking to fill after plans for an ethanol plant fell through. The power plant will process about 440 tons of MSW per day, reducing the waste volume by about 60 percent. To begin with, the system will produce power only. “There certainly is the potential for combined-heat-and-power applications,” Kerecman said.

In addition to producing enough electricity to power itself, the facility will not use any water, said Jim Burchetta, Green Waste Energy founder and CEO. “We’re not a drain on the community in any way,” he said.

No power purchase agreement (PPA) is in place yet, but Kerecman and Burchetta said they’re not worried about that aspect of the project. “We’ve spoken with a number of people,” Burchetta said. “That’s the least of our concerns.” Because the plant will offer base-load power, Kerecman said he doesn’t think it’s going to be an issue to secure a PPA.

The plant will be funded privately, but Green Waste Energy has applied for a $7.5 million state grant that is not designated completely to this project, Burchetta said. Kerecman added that discussions are underway with private equity investors, many expressing interest in the project.