Growing up on a Wake County farm, Barry Edwards learned to find uses for what others would throw away. As Catawba County’s utilities and engineering director, he’s taken that ethos to an award-winning extreme. Edwards oversees the county’s Regional EcoComplex, which has paired with the county landfill to become a center of energy enterprise and research.
From a rise overlooking the 800-acre site about 37 miles northwest of Charlotte, Edwards points out the pieces of a massive jigsaw puzzle:
• Dozens of small wells dot the landfill, tapping methane gas from rotting waste. The methane fuels three engines capable of generating 3 megawatts of electricity, enough to supply about 1,500 homes.
• Heat from the engines is piped to a new, $3 million biodiesel facility the county and Appalachian State University operate. The fading yellow blooms of canola, whose seeds will be turned into biodiesel, color a field on the site.
• Gregory Wood Products, a lumber mill, operates on the site’s northern end. Next to it a second business, PalletOne, uses wood culled from the lumber operation to make shipping pallets.
Read the full Charlotte Observer article here.