Fossil fuels provide a comfortable and convenient lifestyle providing the energy necessary to operate computers, watch television, regulate building temperature, and more. However, there is a cost for these benefits including depletion of natural resources, pollution and climate change, to name just a few. The following renewable energy programs were initiated to reduce the impact of the city and its residents on the environment as we go about the everyday activities of life.
As waste naturally breaks down it creates gas that can be recovered and used to generate electricity. The City of Columbus and its partners have several examples of this technology:
- Jackson Pike Waste Water Treatment Plant, Department of Public Utilities: As waste water enters the City of Columbus treatment facility it moves through a series of steps in order to discharge clean water back into the environment. As part of this process, waste material (or sludge) is broken down by bacteria that generate methane gas which is then used onsite as fuel for processing and heating boilers as well as auxiliary fuel incineration.
- Franklin County Landfill, SWACO : When Coumbus residents set garbage on the curb for collection it is transported to the Franklin County Landfill. Biogas recovered from the landfill is then used to provide fuel at a Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) station. Cars and trucks can be purchased to run off of CNG. The City of Columbus has a variety of vehicles in its fleets that use this type of fuel.
- Phoenix Methane Plant, SWACO: Energy is being generated beneath the ground at the former Model Landfill. Power generated here is purchased by the city. The system is capable of generating 2.7 megawatts of electricity.
- Quasar Biodigester : Bacteria is used to break down sludge, food waste and fats, oils and grease to generate electricity. These materials are diverted from the waste stream of the City of Columbus and other central Ohio sources. The system is capable of generating 8,760 MWh of electricity, which is enough to power 725 homes each year. Byproducts of the system will be sold regionally by Kurtz Brothers.
O'Shaughnessy Dam on the Scioto River provides a source of drinking water while simultaneously generating renewable energy. Since 1987, the Department of Public Utilities has operated the five megawatt turbines located in a bunker below the dam to generate electricity to be sold on the market. In 2010 alone, hydroelectric plant generated 6,500 MWh preventing 5,300 metric tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere. Currently the hydro is being reworked and will be back on line 2022.
- Through a state grant, the Department of Public Utilities collaborated with partners to install solar panels on the Africentric School. Monitoring devices were also installed in order to demonstrate solar generation to students.
- Solar panels were installed on the rooftop of the restaurant and restroom buildings at the new Bicentennial Park on the Scioto Mile.
- Parking meters are being replaced throughout the city with new models which accept credit cards or coins and are operated using solar power.
- On May 9, 2013 the City of Columbus dedicated its first large scale solar energy system in partnership with General Energy Solutions. watch video from the dedication here. The roof of the Fleet Management Facility at 4211 Groves Road is covered with 2,650 panels. It is a 636 KW solar photovoltaic system, which is expected to generate over 800,000 kWh of electricity annually. This is enough electricity to power 85 homes a year. To see a description of the project and a live feed of how much electricity the panels are generating click here.
- Those interested in installing a solar array in the City of Columbus can reference the Permitting and Inspection procedure outlined here and worksheet here or contact the Department of Building and Zoning Services at 614-645-7433.
Byers Mazda Subaru located at 2455 Billingsley Road is home to the city's first wind turbine and is easily viewed as motorists travel around 270 on the north east side.
A fact sheet is available for City of Columbus residents interested in installing a small scale wind turbine system on their property.