Last week’s announcement that South Carolina will become a “wind energy hub” may be one of many alternative energy developments for the Palmetto State. Government, power utility and business leaders have continued to “talk green,” while cap and trade legislation stalls in Congress.
A new project at the at the Savannah River Site (SRS) replaces a deteriorating, inefficient coal powerhouse and oil-fired boilers at a savings of approximately $35 million a year in energy and operation and maintenance costs and reduces air emissions, including 100,000 tons per year of greenhouse gas emissions.
“”By investing in energy efficiency, we are creating good jobs that can’t be outsourced. This project will employ 800 workers during construction and about 25 people during permanent operations,” said Secretary Chu in addressing an audience of over 150 stakeholders and employees during the groundbreaking ceremony at SRS.
Progress Energy, a power supplier in parts of the state, is also seeking 45 to 75 megawatts of capacity from wood biomass facilities starting in 2013. The request is part of the utility’s efforts to increase the amount of electricity it purchases from renewable energy resources.
South Carolina has the resources for biomass, says State Energy Department Director John Clark.
“Biomass is really anything that grows,” says Clark. “Whether you are talking about farm products or forestry. Right now we leave about 50 percent of biomass, the bulk of wood products in the forest: undergrowth, the limbs, the branches, the stumps. all the things that aren’t used for making lumber and paper.”
And there is money to be made in those products, says State Forester Gene Kodama.
He says, “We want folks to be aware of the opportunity of coming to South Carolina, utilize the wood that’s not being used for bio-energy and bio-fuel and get us off of imported petroleum- make our country more secure and stable. Get industries in here to use what we call “chip and saw,” small saw timber and medium-sized saw timber and utilize that wood.”
Clark says South Carolina can also grow switchgrass for that same purpose. He says, “If you can take a dollar that you would spend on coal or oil and instead spend it on biomass, you’re keeping that money in the South Carolina economy–multiplying over and over again, rather than sending it to West Virginia or Saudi Arabia. And that’s immediate, that’s at hand.”