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Fibrowatt USA has its eye on site east of Elkin

November 14th, 2007 · No Comments

A 125-acre site east of Elkin and north of the Yadkin River in Surry County is one of the locations Fibrowatt USA might choose for its next bio-fueled power-generating station.

Company officials met the public at a “community open house” Tuesday in the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service’s office in Dobson where they outlined plans for the project and answered questions.

Fibrowatt’s generating system was developed in Great Britain and used in its first U.S. operation at Benson, Minn. The system heats chicken litter to produce gasses that fuel the power plant’s boilers, turning water into steam that turns its generators. The depleted chicken litter later can be used for fertilizer. Pointing to emissions data from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Fibrowatt officials said their Benson plant releases less carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and hydrogen chloride per megawatt than coal plants in North Carolina. A group from Surry and Wilkes counties visited the Benson plant this year and said they detected no odor problems.

Fibrowatt estimates its first plant in North Carolina will cost $140-$150 million, employ 75-100 people, generate 40 to 55 megawatts of electricity, and annually consume up to 500,000 tons of chicken litter the company will buy for estimated $15 million.

Surry and neighboring Wilkes County both are among North Carolina’s broiler-chicken producers. Fibrowatt officials noted that, regardless of which county is chosen, the plant will buy chicken litter from producers within a 100-mile radius.

Today’s editions of the Winston-Salem Journal, Surry Messenger, The Mount Airy News and Elkin Tribune all have reports on the open house, including residents’ reactions.

The Winston-Salem Journal’s map showing the Surry County location off N.C. 268 near Gentry Road is here.

Fibrowatt co-founder and CEO Rupert Fraser said it will take about three years to build the plant after his company negotiates a contract to sell the power to Duke Energy. He said Fibrowatt hopes to announce its choice of a site by the end of this year.

Tags: Businesses · Utilities

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