Recycling has been part of going green for a long time, but one company is going a step further by actually recycling energy that has already been used to power manufacturing plants. How do they do it? Recycled Energy Development implements proven technologies that help capture wasted heat and increase their energy efficiency.
Dick Munson, senior vice president for public affairs at RED, says facilities that undertake such projects are generally able to cut their energy expenses by up to 20 percent. West Virginia Alloys, in Alloy, W.Va., is a silicon manufacturing plant that makes materials that end up in products such as solar cells and computer chips. In 2013, with help from RED, the plant will capture its waste heat with dynamic results in terms of cost, emissions and energy savings.
The waste energy recycling project in Alloy will burn no fossil fuel and emit no pollutants, yet it will generate power for less than the cost of new coal-fired generation. The system will allow WVA to capture waste heat from its silicon furnaces and gain an advantage over competitors who might typically vent that energy. The waste heat recovery boilers installed by RED will convert exhaust heat into steam, in turn driving a power generator that will offset nearly one half of the purchased electricity used. This process will also reduce WVA’s carbon emissions by over 400,000 tons a year, equivalent to Americans driving about 200 million fewer miles each year.
“RED’s mission is to profitably reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Our projects must benefit manufacturers, investors and society,” Munson says.
RED will supply more than $100 million in capital and all of the energy expertise for the project, receiving a modest return on capital and then splitting all remaining financial benefits with WVA, increasing the competitiveness of the facility.
The U.S. Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency estimate energy recycling projects, including waste energy recovery and combined heat and power systems, could generate 240,000 MW of clean electric capacity — enough to provide 20 percent of U.S. electricity needs by 2030 and slash carbon emissions by 60 percent.
“Not only are we going to cut greenhouse gas emissions, but by reducing its energy costs, West Virginia Alloys will be able to increase production by 20 percent, add jobs and bring silicon manufacturing back to the United States,” Munson says.