Turkey leftovers will take on a whole new use after a Minnesota company finishes construction of a power plant fired by the birds’ droppings.
It may not be the total answer to relieving the United States’ addiction to foreign oil, but the plant will burn 90 percent turkey dung and create clean power for 55,000 homes.
Three poultry litter plants have already been built in England, but the Benson, Minnesota-based facility will be the first large-scale plant of its type in the U.S. and the largest in the world, according to operator Fibrominn, a subsidiary of power plant builder Homeland Renewable Energy, LLC of Boston.
Turkey dung is prized over pig excrement and cow chips.
“Poultry litter is drier material, so it burns better, and there’s a lot of it,” said Charles Grecco, of HH Media, LLC, an investment bank that helped arrange $202 million in financing for the plant.
The 55-megawatt plant will burn 700,000 tons of dung a year and produce fertilizer as a by-product, a process that will keep phosphorus and nitrates found in the raw litter from seeping into water supplies, said Grecco.
No extra amounts of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide would be emitted than would be naturally emitted as the dung decomposes, said Grecco.
Utility Xcel has agreed to purchase the turkey power, said company spokesman Ed Legge. Under 1994 Minnesota state legislation, Xcel is required to buy a small amount of power made from biomass in exchange for clearance to store spent nuclear fuel outside its Red Wing nuclear plant in Minnesota.
Fibrowatt, LLC, a Philadelphia-based developer, which is mostly owned by Homeland Renewable Energy, is pursing other plants in poultry-growing U.S. states.