Thursday, July 25, 2024

Top 5 This Week

Resetting Our Outlook on Wastewater Management to Emphasize the Sustainability Push

Orbital Biocarbon, a leading Pittsburgh-based project development and finance company, specializing in wastewater sludge disposal solutions for wastewater utilities, has officially announced a partnership with PYREG to transform wastewater sludge disposal into regulation compliant, carbon negative and PFAS-free profit center. Under the agreed terms, Orbital will leverage PYREG’s technology to rethink wastewater sludge by non-combustion heating at high temperatures, eventually producing salable biochar, a commercial-grade fertilizer or durable building material additive, renewable energy, as well as CO2 removal credits. Furthermore, the partnership in question will bring to the fore Orbital’s financing solutions that will help customers access private capital to construct, own, and operate on-site wastewater sludge disposal facilities. Owing to that, wastewater utilities can now bypass public debt financing and operational risks, while simultaneously realizing value from their wastewater sludge. Markedly enough, the stated financing skills will also bear Orbital’s unique ability to fund sewage sludge treatment projects through the sale of CO2 removal credits, even before the projects that create those CO2 removal credits are completed.

Another detail worth a mention here is rooted in the introduction of project development and PYREG technology solutions, solutions that will serve, in particular, all those wastewater utilities with a preference of own and operate best-in-class plants.

“By incorporating modest discounts to established exchange-based pricing of CO2 removal credits, we are willing to pay for CO2 credits today, even before Orbital’s plants are completed. Such is our level of confidence in this approach to wastewater sludge disposal. It’s good for our carbon capture requirements, and it’s good for climate change mitigation,” an established project capital provider.

Making the development significantly more important is, of course, Orbital’s track record in conceiving such projects. You see, thus far, the company has built a multi-billion-dollar regionalization and asset bundling initiative for Allegheny County’s wastewater system, including its central wastewater plant upgrade. It was also involved in a $500 million water and wastewater treatment project for the Erie, Pennsylvania Water Works where it achieved regulatory compliance, and at the same time, improved wastewater treatment cost-effectiveness. Then, there was the Allegheny County’s district energy system privatization, including the upgrade and decentralization of energy, heat and water/waste services, along with integration of Chester Engineers’ wastewater treatment assets into Canada-based Hatch Corporation, a world leader in natural resource-related infrastructure projects.

“We have been thoroughly impressed with Orbital Biocarbon, and its capable and dedicated professionals. From Orbital’s most junior financial modelers to its project managers to John Day, the company’s young, energetic and entrepreneurial president, a Washington County, Pennsylvania native, the company has assembled an exceptional team. With a clear focus and urgency, Orbital Biocarbon is committed to enhancing cost-effectiveness for wastewater utility clients while prioritizing environmental stewardship,” said Robert Kovach, Chief Sales Officer at PYREG.

Hold on, we still have a few bits left to unpack, considering we still haven’t discussed Orbital’s role in building the first and only United States full-island commercial airport microgrid at Pittsburgh International Airport, providing all energy and waste services at the airport. This it did while designing building, owning and operating AK Steel’s wastewater treatment plant at its Middletown, Ohio steel-making facility. Another project where the company handled multiple responsibilities was with the Allegheny Health Network. Here, too, Orbital built, owned, and operated microgrid energy and waste assets for hospitals within the stated ecosystem.