First Biomass Power Plant in Texas Close to Powering up
The first Texas power plant to use renewable wood waste to generate electricity is close to powering up. The Aspen Power plant on Lufkin’s north side is the first of its kind in the state of Texas, and one of only a handful in the entire country.
It’s called a Biomass Energy plant, because it burns organic material to generate power, and Aspen Power President Danny Vines says it couldn’t be located in a better place.
There’s an unlimited supply of fuel from the east Texas forest products industries, and Vines says he has agreements with 37 east counties to buy their waste wood. 60 to 70 truckloads of waste wood material are delivered to the Aspen plant every day.
The process is pretty basic. The waste wood fuel is burned to heat water in large boilers and generate steam, which drives turbines that generate electricity.
This plant will generate about 57 megawatts of power, most of which will be delivered into the ERCOT (Electric Reliability Council of Texas) grid, which provides power to 75 percent of the state.
Vines says this plant is the very definition of “Green Power”, because biomass is a textbook example of a renewable energy source. He says the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has approved every aspect of the plant’s operation and pollution control systems.
Emissions from the plant are monitored constantly for particulates that cause air pollution.
Vines says he hopes to have the plant running at full capacity by early next month. As for local economic impact, the Aspen plant will generate about 175 new jobs, all of which meet the definition of “green jobs”.