Electricity from chicken waste

Poultry power: New technology generators could help solve Delmarva pollution problem.

January 01, 2001

CAN electric deregulation lead to consumer choice for chicken power?

At least three companies in the Delmarva region have plans to convert unwanted chicken manure and bedding into fuel to run power generators. They hope to sell their electricity to buyers interested in cleaner-energy alternatives to fossil fuels.

Environmental appeal alone won't be enough for these commercial enterprises. Power from these new technology generators costs more than three times that produced by a coal-fired plant.

They're relying on a new state law that provides an income-tax credit of 85 cents per megawatt of power produced by biomass materials, such as poultry litter, vegetation and forest wood residue.

Motivation for the new power facilities stems from Maryland's clampdown on mountains of polluting chicken waste. More than 800,000 tons of poultry litter is generated on the peninsula each year -- far more than the land can absorb as fertilizer .

How many consumers will ultimately choose an electricity provider based on the company's use of green power is uncertain. So is the attractiveness of the biomass energy tax credit to producers.

But for now, poultry power seems like a good way to get rid of a decidedly fowl product.

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