Ice cream is helping power Cleveland
Ice cream will be more than just a tasty treat in Cleveland this August. Leftover ice cream mix from Cleveland-based Pierre’s Ice Cream is now one of the fuels going into Cleveland’s new biomass anaerobic digestion power facility. Collinwood BioEnergy, like other biomass processing plants, produces renewable energy through digesting organic matter and producing biogas which is in turn converted into electricity. It is one of eleven projects that won federal stimulus funding under an Ohio state programme to turn municipal waste into energy.
The privately operated facility began accepting waste input in January 2012 and reached full capacity in August 2012. It produces 1.3 megawatts per hour – enough to power up to 800 homes for a year – and processes 50,000 tonnes of waste per year. The facility can also process wastewater and solid waste, though it currently accepts only liquid waste.
What was once considered waste is now a resource being returned to the local economy and environment. This is an example of circular waste management that uses organic waste as a resource in a closed nutrient cycle, which contributes to the regenerative ability of the city. The residual from the anaerobic digestion process is rich in nutrients. In the case of Collinwood BioEnergy, the residual is land-applied as a soil nutrient to agricultural land. Transforming the liquid waste into fertiliser supports peri-urban agriculture and re-establishes a cycle of food production in which organic waste is transformed into organic fertiliser that enables the next crop.
It also allows the city to source its own (renewable) fuel needed in its energy production: the energy produced is supplied to the local utility, Cleveland Public Power, which has signed a ten-year contract to purchase at US $0.07 per kWh. The heat generated in anaerobic digestion can also be sold. Another benefit of processing waste in this way is that it reduces the amount of waste dumped into landfills. Furthermore, the site on which Collinwood BioEnergy stands is a former General Motors plant that was abandoned two decades ago. The grant allowed this brownfield to be put to use again, which created an estimated 35 full-time and 25 part-time local jobs in Cleveland.
At the World Future Council we are calling on cities to adopt a 100 per cent renewable energy target, which represents significant savings in energy consumption as well as a consequent transition to renewable energy resources. A call for 100 per cent renewable cities is also a call for 100 per cent renewable countries, as a large part of legislative power lies in the hands of national governments. This means that while integrated urban planning is a key principle to building regenerative cities, a national policy framework that enables regenerative urbanisation is also required. Here in Cleveland we see initiatives from both the national and state levels supporting regenerative urban development – development which stems from its 10-year Sustainable Cleveland 2019 plan to “grow jobs, improve health, and increase wealth in a way that fosters equity and community, and improves the natural environment.”
Under the federal stimulus act American Recovery and Reinvestment Act – State Energy Plan, Ohio’s Department of Development created its Transforming Waste to Value programme. The stimulus totalled $10 million and grants were awarded on a competitive basis to eleven projects. The state’s Transforming Waste to Value programme aims to convert municipal solid wastes, food and farm wastes, and other biomass and waste materials to electricity, heat, fuel or bio-products as well as to create jobs. The local public utility in Cleveland has a fixed contract to buy the electricity produced.
Such an initiative will also benefit the state in helping it meet its energy portfolio obligations: The Renewable and Advanced Energy Portfolio Standard, part of Ohio’s legislation for its electricity sector (S.B. 221) enacted in May 2008, requires that by 2025, 12.5 per cent of electricity sold by any Ohio utility to be generated from renewable energy sources, including wind, hydro, biomass and solar.
With the Collinwood biomass digestion facility transforming waste into renewable energy, it appears that ice cream is helping cool both Clevelanders and the planet this summer.
Monday, August 13th, 2012