You probably know the SWA for our garbage and recycling programs, but did you know what we are a major producer of renewable energy? The SWA has two Renewable Energy Facilities, also known as waste-to-energy (WTE) facilities, at the Palm Beach Renewable Energy Park, centrally located in Palm Beach County.
Not only do the the two facilities use household garbage (also known as post-recycled municipal solid waste) to produce energy, they also significantly reduce the volume of waste that ends up in our landfill.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, WTE plants are a "clean, reliable, renewable source of energy" that generate electricity "with less environmental impact than almost any other source of electricity." In fact, WTE plants improve air quality by decreasing the consumption of fossil fuels such as oil, coal, and natural gas, as evidenced in the table below.
Power Plant Air Emissions by Fuel Type (Pounds per Megawatt Hour)
Source: "Comparison of Air Emissions from Waste-to-Energy Facilities to Fossil Fuel Power Plants, 2005," SWANA Applied Research Foundation, by Jeremy O'Brien.
Palm Beach Renewable Energy Facility 1 (REF 1) has been operating since 1989. This refuse derived fuel (RDF) waste-to-energy facility can process up to 3,000 tons per day of post-recycled municipal solid waste to generate power.
In 2015, the Palm Beach Renewable Energy Facility 2 (REF 2) opened its doors for commercial operations. This mass burn facility accepts up to 3,000 tons per day of post-recycled municipal solid waste and burns it to generate power.