By Srinivas Jalla, CH2M HILL US East Regional Technology Leader for Sustainable Solutions
My long-standing interest in sustainability, coupled with Gwinnett County’s entrepreneurial spirit and a simple goal of “making better use of resources under our control,” created an innovative atmosphere for addressing a unique challenge. The challenge was to develop an economically viable project (less than 10-year payback) for beneficial use of biogas despite the low power costs (~$0.06/kWh) and lack of renewable portfolio standards in Georgia.
Before rejoining CH2M HILL earlier this year, I worked for almost three years as the Sustainable Initiatives Manager at Gwinnett County’s Department of Water Resources. There I spent most of my time evaluating and implementing sustainable technologies to reduce the cost of County operations. Gwinnett County has been a long-time client of CH2M HILL, and I have spent most of my career working for them either as a consultant or as an employee.
The flexibility provided by the County’s simple goal, and my desire to stop flaring the excess biogas at the wastewater treatment facility, led me to develop a gas-to-energy project that met the County’s expectations for return on investment. The project included a 2.185-MW cogeneration system and a fats, oils and grease (FOG) and High-strength Waste (HSW) receiving station. The FOG/HSW receiving station allowed the County to maximize the use of existing excess digestion capacity and improve the economic viability of the project. For more information about this project, you can read “Advancing Sustainable Energy Management at Wastewater Utilities” published in the June/July 2011 edition of the Georgia Engineer.
This project, now aptly titled “Gwinnett P.O.W.E.R” (Processing Organic Waste for Energy Recovery), is one of the most exciting projects I have worked on in recent years. It was a unique opportunity to be involved from project inception to completion, initially as an owner and now as a consultant. The project is now getting ready for the ribbon cutting ceremony. Charlotte Nash, Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners Chairman, will preside at the ceremony to signify official commencement of operations.
This innovative project has won many regional and national accolades. For example, the Atlanta Regional Commission recognized Gwinnett County with its CREATE Community Award for Environmental Sustainability. In addition, the National Association of Counties (NACo) recognized the project with its achievement award. A portion of the project cost was paid for by a block grant from the US Department Of Energy, which highlighted this project on its blog earlier this year. You can also learn more about the project from Richard Porter, the supervisor of the F. Wayne Hill Water Resources Center, and Adam Minchey, special projects manager for the Gwinnett Department of Water Resources, in the Gwinnett Daily Post article on the facility.
Srinivas has over 15 years of experience in wastewater treatment systems design, construction, operations and management. At CH2M HILL, he currently serves as the US East Regional Technology Leader for Sustainable Solutions in the Water Business Group. Before rejoining CH2M HILL, he led the sustainability initiatives at the Gwinnett County Department of Water Resources. He is an active member of the Water Environment Federation and Project Management Institute.Tags: biogas, biogas cogeneration, CH2M HILL Access Water Blog, energy, Gwinnett P.O.W.E.R., Sustainability, water blog