If all goes according to plan, the Midland Odessa area could be home to a state of the art facility designed to turn waste into electricity by early next year. This comes from a recent announcement by Cirque Energy Inc., one of a number of companies that will be working together to build and deploy a 2.5 MW biomass gasification power plant. This would provide enough electricity to power roughly 2,500 Texas homes.
The project will be making use of a deployable gasification unit (DGU) developed by a partnership between Cirque Energy and Northrop Grumman. The technology is designed to turn solid waste into fuel that can be burned to generate electricity. This fuel, known as syngas, could be used in place of more traditional fossil fuels such as diesel or natural gas to generate electricity.
The benefit of such an approach is that it creates a new use for waste that would otherwise simply go in to landfills. A wide range of waste products can be used in this process including; wood waste, animal waste, landscaping waste, paper, cardboard, food waste, and even plastics.
The concept of converting waste into electricity is not new. But earlier generations of the technology have proven to be inefficient and costly for certain types of waste. An even larger problem has been the amount of air pollution generated from the process of burning waste for electricity. The company believes that their version of the DGU which uses low temperature starved air gasification technology could be the key to wide-scale commercial deployment of biomass to energy technology.
The Texas electricity market is conducive to such innovation because it is deregulated and open to competition. The electricity generated by the facility can be sold to the wholesale electricity market. Under the structure of the Texas marketplace, retail electric providers purchase this power and sell it to end users including residential and commercial electricity users.