"Green Steam" is an innovative environmental solution that captures thermal energy previously lost to the environment, utilizing advanced cogeneration technology.

Cogeneration and Green Steam

Sergio Corbo | Veolia North America


Please tell us about Veolia North America and the role it plays in resource management.

Veolia offers a complete range of environmental solutions to help cities, towns and other governmental bodies, campuses, businesses and industries address environmental and sustainability challenges in energy, water and waste. This encompasses many different offerings including but not limited to: managing municipal and industrial water and wastewater facilities across the country; operating and maintaining onsite energy and district energy systems; and managing customers’ hazardous and regulated waste needs.

Our services run the gamut from recycling light bulbs to processing wastewater; from producing green steam energy to recovering spent sulfuric acid for beneficial reuse. We like to say we are “resourcing the world,” and I think this is the best way to succinctly characterize the broad range of services we provide. 


What industry sectors do you serve?

Environmental and sustainability challenges are not industry-specific and therefore neither are our customers.  We serve municipalities, commercial buildings, medical facilities and heavy industry alike and help them achieve their goals in sustainability.


Are there any achievements from the last year you would like to highlight?

An example of the work that we’re proud of in the energy sector in 2017 includes our work for Georgia Renewable Power in North Carolina.   Located in the heart of the “American Broiler Belt,” North Carolina is home to a large-scale poultry production industry. And where there are lots of chickens, there is usually lots of chicken manure.  In 2017, Veolia began operating a waste-to-energy facility for a subsidiary of Georgia Renewable Power in Lumberton, N.C.   In its role there, Veolia manages a cogeneration plant that converts poultry waste and wood chips into biomass energy.  More than 11,000 truckloads of poultry litter – some 285,000 tons – are diverted from land application or landfills and instead used to generate energy.  In addition, the 25 megawatt facility uses waste heat from plant used to dry and sanitize wood chips for export overseas.  Finally, the ash from the plant, which contains the original nutrients from the poultry litter, is sold for use as a feedstock for fertilizer and soil amendment.

It is a prime example of how a circular economy approach can yield significant economic, environmental and social benefits.


Veolia does a lot of work with cogeneration. Can you explain to our readers what that is and what benefits it provides to your customers?

Cogeneration is another term for combined heat and power (CHP), which simultaneously generates power as well as steam used for heating and cooling. With cogeneration, waste heat is captured and converted into thermal energy. This process requires much less fuel than if conducted separately, and can exceed 80 percent efficiency, compared to just 35 percent efficiency for traditional generation operations.

For our clients, we expertly navigate the CHP landscape to meet energy requirements, and to deliver financial, reliability and sustainability goals. And we don’t just support their efforts. We apply CHP best practices to our own operations to ensure efficient use of resources. These operational and technical best practices help maximize uptime.   


You have significant “Green Steam” operations in major cities. What is Green Steam and can you give an example of where it is being used to reduce emissions effectively?

"Green Steam" is an innovative environmental solution that captures thermal energy previously lost to the environment, utilizing advanced cogeneration technology.

We have green steam operations throughout the City of Boston and the surrounding areas, but also throughout the country at facilities in the healthcare, biotech and pharmaceutical sectors, as well as at office buildings, hotels and universities.

For example, in Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts, Veolia’s district energy system leverages recovered thermal energy – Green Steam —produced as a byproduct of electricity generation at the Kendall Cogeneration Station to supply its steam network. This CHP technology, combined with recent infrastructure improvements by Veolia, have improved reliability, eliminated thermal discharge to the Charles River and significantly reduced the region’s overall carbon footprint.


What are the benefits of Green Steam?

The Cambridge/Boston system described above is the perfect example of the benefits of green steam. Our innovative $112 million investment generates significant benefits for Cambridge and Boston, including:

  • Significantly reducing regional greenhouse gas emissions

  • ​75 percent of district energy heat supply consists of recycled “Green Steam”

  • Opportunity for building owners to obtain LEED credits using district energy

  • ​A six percent reduction of non-transportation carbon emissions for both cities

  • Elimination of thermal pollution from the Charles River ecosystem

  • Air quality  improvements; Reduced NOx and SO2 emissions by approximately 36  and 61 percent, respectively

  • 311, 936 labor hours supported the construction of the “Green Steam” project

  • Increased capacity and overall system efficiency

  • Support of Greenovate Boston's goal to reduce Boston's greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050

  • Supporting sustainable development in both Boston and Cambridge

  • Increasing the region's energy reliability


Are there any growing trends on the horizon you would like to discuss?

We are very excited about what the future holds for microgrids. The busiest airport in the world, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International, was shut down for several hours in December as the result of a major power outage.  This is a situation where we believe a microgrid would have not just prevented the outage, but also reduced energy costs and limited greenhouse gas emissions on an ongoing basis.

A microgrid is a series of energy assets connected to the larger electrical grid, but can operate independently for the sake of a smaller facility such as an airport. Not only does it offer more local control over power generation, but can integrate with renewable sources like solar, wind and cogenerated power more efficiently. This is the main connection between microgrid and smart grid technology, which describes utility systems that accept more than one source of power.

Microgrids offer a promising opportunity for communities seeking to reduce energy costs, limit greenhouse gas emissions and increase resiliency.

About Sergio Corbo
Sergio is responsible for leading the Marketing and Communications team to support the strategic initiatives of Veolia North America, managing a team of marketers and communications practitioners responsible for the brand, marketing initiatives and segmentation, digital and social, internal and operational communications. Prior to working for Veolia, Sergio was Chief Marketing Officer at General Electric Energy Management Industrial Solutions where he directed strategic commercial development and global growth. He worked at Schneider Electric in various leadership roles, covering Marketing, M&A and Strategy, including the launch of Schneider’s Renewable Business.
The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of AltEnergyMag

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