Environmental services firm Veolia North America has broken ground on a modernization and decarbonization project at a thermal incineration facility in Arkansas which will be powered by on-site heat and solar photovoltaic energy.
Veolia and Clean Earth will collaborate in a five-year deal unique to the waste management industry, the partners said. The thermal facility in Gum Springs in southwest Arkansas, which will generate power through both waste heat and solar PV, is designed to safely treat and dispose of hazardous industrial waste. It is expected to open in 2025.
The power for the incineration facility will be generated by capturing waste heat recovered from a boiler and steam turbine, according to the companies. In addition, 5 MW of solar PV capacity will be built on-site to both aid in providing electricity for the plant and offer grid services for the local utility.
Clean Earth provides processing, treatment, disposal and recycling solutions. The agreement will give that company access to Veolia incineration capacity.
“This unique agreement solves some of the constraints that have challenged the industry in the past several years,” Jeff Beswick, president of Clean Earth, said in a statement.
The behind-the-meter combined heat and power (CHP) and solar project will feed directly into the plant. The solar portion is not directly microgrid-related as it would not operate independently in the event of a utility grid outage. Instead, the solar electricity generated in excess of what the Gum Spring plan requires during the day will be fed back to the utility with Veolia compensated at net energy metering rates.
“Demand is growing across the U.S. for the safe, sustainable management of complex waste streams from the resurgent growth of research and manufacturing in North America,” Veolia North America President and CEO Fred Van Heems said in the release.
“This agreement provides a solution for the gap in the industry,” Van Heems added. “We have a long-standing relationship with Clean Earth, and we are pleased to work together to solve some of the country’s most difficult environmental challenges at our new facility.
Veolia broke ground on the 5-MW single-axis tracking solar array in late 2023 and plans to complete it by the fourth quarter of this year. The panels together could generate more than 250 million kWh of carbon-free electricity over the next 25 years, the company said.
Veolia is contracting with Today’s Power Inc. on the solar installation. The environmental firm cleared 30 acres of land across the street from its treatment plant to make room for the solar array.
As a counteraction, Veolia and partners plan to reforest nearly 1,500 acres surrounding the property to offset carbon emissions, protect local habitat and prevent erosion, according to reports.