– Bradley Osburn
The Gainesville Renewable Energy Center biomass power plant has been at the center of a lot of controversy in the last few years, but what’s not often talked about how the facility actually operates. Check out our tour of the facility.
LOCATION: 11201 NW 13th St.
NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 46
HOW LONG IN CURRENT LOCATION: The facility was completed in October 2013 and began commercial operations in Dec. 17, 2013
WHAT THEY DO: GREC burns renewable wood materials to produce up to 102.5 megawatts of electrical power for Gainesville. It is a 24-hour operation, seven days a week.
FUN FACT: The plant does not use an incinerator, but a bubbling fluidized bed boiler that burns the wood and produces steam to power the steam turbine generator that produces electricity. It is designed to burn wood with a moisture absorption level of 40 to 50 percent.
Wood is offloaded from semi-trucks into enormous bins by chaining the trucks to a platform and using powerful hydraulics to lift the front of the truck over 75 degrees so that the cargo spills out into the open bins.
GREC is a “baseload power” facility, meaning that it meets the minimum power production necessary for GRU to meet the demand of its customers at any given time. With GREC, Gru’s energy supply is more than 20 percent renewable.
The plant does not produce any wastewater and recycles its water in-system. GREC receives reclaimed water from the City of Alachua.
GREC runs at an electrical output of 70 to 102.5 megawatts. 100 megawatts is enough energy to power 70,000 homes.
GREC’s Contained Emission Monitoring System ensures that no particulate matter spews out of the plant’s stack. The visible emission from the tower is water vapor. Ash and particulate matter from the boiler is collected in vacuum bags and tested for chemical content.