Sussex County Council voted unanimously this week to approve the use of land near Georgetown for a facility that turns chicken litter into renewable energy.
The Maryland-based company CleanBay Renewables is set to build its $60,000 Sussex I facility on a nearly 17-acre site off Route 113.
It will convert 90,000 tons of chicken litter each year into 5 megawatts of electricity for the Delmarva Electric Cooperative power grid.
The process is called anaerobic digestion by which chicken litter is heated up to extract phosphorus and methane gas.
Clean Bay Renewables Outreach Manager Jackie Priestly says trucks will deliver chicken litter to the facility each day. The waste will then be mixed with water in an oxygen-free tank to go through the digestion process.
“It’s like a combination of slow-cooking and composting,” said Priestly. “So during this process, the materials begin to break down and create two usable materials. One is biogas and the other is digestate.”
The biogas is methane which is what the facility will use to power a generator on site used to help power the grid. Priestly says phosphorus is extracted from the digestate and shipped to farms in the Midwest.
“It’s in oversupply on the peninsula resulting in harm to the bay. So the phosphorus is crystallized and loaded onto trucks to be sold to farmers in the Midwest where the nutrient is actually needed to support their agriculture,” she said.
The Sussex one facility will create 15 full-time jobs and construction on the site will start next year.
CleanBay will work with the Delaware Department of Transportation to design the highway entrance to the plant.
CleanBay’s facility in Maryland is under construction and slated to open in 2019. The company says they’re continuing to look for additional plant locations in Delaware, Virginia and Maryland.