Operations have begun for the U.S. Department of Energy and Ameresco Inc. biomass facility at Savannah River Site, South Carolina, US.

Ameresco, an energy efficiency and renewable energy company, has a 20-year, $795m contract to build and operate the plant.

The project, begun in 2009, represented a $150m investment by Ameresco and employed as many as 800 workers.

The 34 acre facility is the recent recipient of the 2012 Excellence in Renewable Energy Award for the Biomass Project of the Year as recognized by the Renewable Energy World Network of Editors.

The plant replaces a coal powerhouse and oil-fired boilers at SRS, and has the capacity to combust 385,000 tons of forest residue annually into 20 MW of clean power.

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