NRG Energy tests growing biomass for use at Louisiana plant

New Roads, La., September 30, 2009 – NRG Energy began a pilot project at its Big Cajun II generating station to evaluate conditions for growing switchgrass and high-biomass sorghum as renewable biomass fuels.

These locally grown grasses will be further tested to determine their capacity to replace a portion of the coal at the plant and reduce its carbon intensity.

The Big Cajun II project could lead to commercial-scale projects using biomass fuels to reduce carbon intensity from other coal plants.

Using improved seed varieties and growing techniques provided by Ceres, Inc., a leading developer and marketer of high-yield energy grasses, NRG is planting a test site on 20 acres of land at the Big Cajun II plant site.

The switchgrass and high-biomass sorghum planted at the site was specifically chosen for use in Louisiana’s soil and climate and use as an energy crop and will be managed by a local grower.

The Big Cajun II test site will deliver data on yield (tons per acre) and other performance factors under local environmental conditions–a first step toward expanding the use of biomass fuels at NRG’s other existing coal facilities. The next phase, expected in 2010, will actually use the biomass as a partial fuel for electrical generation.

The U.S. Department of Energy has identified switchgrass as an ideal dedicated energy crop. As a perennial, once established, switchgrass requires little or no tilling and minimal nitrogen fertilizer and other crop inputs.

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