“Don’t call it the incinerator.”
That’s what I learned when I toured the Lee County Material Recovery Facility today. Calling it an incinerator is like calling a car a “horse and buggy.”
The facility produces energy in a renewable and sustainable way at the Buckingham, FL facility and sells the power to Seminole Electric Cooperative. Taking household waste that would otherwise end up in a landfill, the facility turns the refuse into electricity. It’s a part of recycling and trash disposal that is rarely considered by the public. Also known as waste-to-energy, material recovery facilities are slowly replacing landfills as the economics make the technology viable.
If Florida had a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) like make other states, the Investor Owned Utilities like FPL would be required to produce or purchase some percentage of their energy from renewable sources like solar electric and waste recovery. RPS’s are seen as a factor that would make more material recovery facilities in Florida viable.
Lee County has an agreement with Covanta Energy who operates the plant that produces base load capacity, something critical for electric utilities to produce in a cost effective and stable manner. We learned how the primary focus of waste removal can result in wonderful benefits in terms of energy production. For example, one ton of processed waste can produce around 600 kilowatt-hours of energy – enough energy for an average home for over 15 days. The facility is capable of processing 1,836 tons of waste per day!
Take a look at this great video of the “claw” in action feeding waste material to the “incinerator.”