Why Build a Biodigester at Philly's Refinery?


There are a few new projects to watch out for in Philadelphia and the surrounding area, including a proposal to liquefy and sell more LNG from PGW, updates on the Adelphia Gateway pipeline, and changes at the Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery. We'll cover all of them, starting with the plan to build an anaerobic digester on PES's land.

Biodigester Basics: Point Breeze Renewable Energy

In late August, Philadelphia Energy Solutions and anaerobic digester builder RNG Energy Solutions announced an agreement to build a biodigester on a section of semi-vacant land at the refinery, with the City of Philadelphia and City's Streets Department's blessing. The project would be called Point Breeze Renewable Energy and would process 350,000 gallons per day/1,400 tons per day of “liquid organic food waste” from a variety of regional sources, including large-scale producers such as supermarkets and cafeterias, and break it down to two main products: methane (or biogas) and dried solids. Proposed uses for the methane include PES Girard Point refinery and SEPTA buses. RNG would lease the land from PES, and PES would purchase gas from the plant.

Process flow overview for the digesters

The proposed process flow from delivery to biogas/biomethane distribution, from RNG's presentation to the Streets Department in May 2018

Why does Philadelphia Energy Solutions want a “renewable” energy project?

The biogas would provide them with coveted renewable energy credits called RINs (renewable identification numbers), the cost of which allegedly led to their bankruptcy. The project would also be a profitable or at least productive use of part of their massive land area, and may be a way to avoid more extensive remediation there. As the name makes obvious, the project is great for public relations.