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Building Greenhouse Biowaste Facilities

14 November 2010 No Comment

Company: Envirepel Energy Inc.

Founder and CEO: Anthony Arand

Based: Vista

Year founded: 2005

Funding: private investors

Number of employees: 200 to 300 by 2008

What they do: Design and build electricity generators powered by biomass – such as wood shavings, tree trimmings and landfill waste. In some projects, the excess steam generated by the facility will be recycled to grow organic vegetables in greenhouses on a large farm.

Current project: $3 million project in Vista to build a generator, which will convert biomass into electricity. The 42,000 square foot facility will generate two megawatts, enough to power 1,500 homes. SDG&E will harness this electricity in 2007.

Future projects: $160 million project in Fallbrook, which combines a biomass generator with an organic farm. The generator will be the largest biomass plant in the state, with 90 megawatts, enough to power 70,000 homes. The plant will run on 1 million tons of wood and food waste – about a quarter of what San Diego puts into landfills each year, said Arand.

An adjacent 63-acre farm and greenhouse, using water recycled from the plant, will grow organic tomatoes for the restaurant market. The farm will also serve as a sanctuary for native bird species. This project, coming online in 2008, will sell electricity to SDG&E.

Envirepel is also building two more facilities at the Ramona Landfill site and the Los Coyotes Indian reservation, to operate in 2008.

Price competition: Biomass electricity is cheaper and cleaner than other forms of electricity on the market. Estimated prices, according to Arand: conventional electricity: 14 cents/kilowatt. Natural gas: 14 cents/kilowatt. Biowaste: 7 cents/kilowatt.

How he got started: Arand is a second-generation “clean energy” engineer, with several patents to his name. He also specializes in organic fertilizers and chemicals. While building a test-farm to demonstrate organic chemicals, he designed a clean electricity generator fueled by the farm’s own biowaste to run the farm. Arand and his team realized that the generator – which produced cleaner and cheaper electricity — could be scaled up to run on an entire city’s biowaste, which would otherwise go to landfill.

Philosophy: “There are a lot of reasons to do this,” said Arand. “It’s environmentally sound, you minimize your use of resources, and you make money.”

Future vision: To help California – which has about 300 landfills — fulfill its vision of being a zero-waste state. By building electricity generators fueled by biowaste, “you never have to permit another landfill again,” said Arand. “That’s our goal.”

Web: envirepel.com
Follow Helen on Twitter @HelenChang

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