Landfill gas is the natural by-product of the decomposition of solid waste in landfills and is comprised primarily of carbon dioxide and methane. By preventing emissions of methane (a powerful greenhouse gas) through the development of landfill gas energy projects, the Landfill Methane Outreach Program (LMOP) helps businesses, states, energy providers, and communities protect the environment and build a sustainable future.
Municipal solid waste landfills are the largest source of human-related methane emissions in the United States, accounting for about 25 percent of these emissions in 2004. At the same time, methane emissions from landfills represent a lost opportunity to capture and use a significant energy resource.
Landfill gas (LFG) is created as solid waste decomposes in a landfill. This gas consists of about 50 percent methane (CH4), the primary component of natural gas, about 50 percent carbon dioxide (CO2), and a small amount of non-methane organic compounds. Methane is a greenhouse gas over 20 times as potent as carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere.
Instead of allowing LFG to escape into the air, it can be captured, converted, and used as an energy source. Using LFG helps to reduce odors and other hazards associated with LFG emissions, and it helps prevent methane from migrating into the atmosphere and contributing to local smog and global climate change.
Nationwide, there are approximately 435 projects that harness landfill gas to produce renewable energy. In 2007 alone, these projects provided over 10.5 billion kilowatt hours of electricity and delivered 79 billion cubic feet per year of landfill gas to corporate and government users, and produced energy equivalent to powering roughly 810,000 homes and heating nearly 547,000 homes each year.
In the year 2006, all operational LFG energy projects in the United States prevented the release of over 20 MMTCE.
- This reduction is the carbon equivalent of removing the emissions from nearly 14 million vehicles on the road or planting nearly 20 million acres of forest for one year.
- These reductions also have the same environmental benefit as preventing the use of over 169 million barrels of oil or offsetting the use of over 356,000 railcars of coal.
The generation of electricity from LFG makes up about two-thirds of the currently operational projects in the U.S. Directly using LFG to offset the use of another fuel (natural gas, coal, fuel oil) is occurring in about one-third of the currently operational projects.
For 2007, LMOP recognized landfill gas energy projects that took innovative approaches to utilize landfill gas from municipal solid waste landfills, deliver environmental and economic benefits directly to the community, and promote landfill gas energy projects locally or nationally.
- Greentree High Btu Landfill Gas Energy Project, Kersey, PA — Project developers used creative financing and applied innovative, state-of-the-art technology to become one of the largest natural gas quality landfill gas energy projects in the country.
- Iris Glen Landfill Gas Energy Project, Johnson City, TN — Natural gas quality landfill gas energy projects are usually limited to landfills with large amounts of gas, but not in Johnson City, Tennessee. There, an engine and boiler use natural gas quality landfill gas to supply steam, electricity, and chilled water to a Veterans Administration hospital, a university, and a civic center.
- Southeastern Chester County Refuse Authority Landfill Gas Energy Project, Chester County, PA — Relying on its talented staff and their motivation to succeed, SECCRA Power forged ahead and developed this landfill gas energy project without the assistance of a third party developer. SECCRA and the community reaped economic benefits that exceeded expectations.
Community Partner of the Year: Greater Lebanon Refuse Authority (GLRA) and PPL Energy Landfill Gas Energy Project, Lebanon, PA — GLRA and PPL created and built a Renewable Energy Education Facility that serves as an educational forum for local, national, and international visitors. With the goal of “empowering our future leaders with green energy,” the project demonstrates the power of renewable energy from landfill gas, wind, and solar energy.
Industry Partner of the Year: Ameresco, Framingham, MA — Ameresco continues to show leadership by consistently developing innovative and flexible landfill gas energy projects. Three new projects in 2007, including a small, creative, 800 kilowatt project, demonstrate Ameresco’s ability to provide long-term solutions to landfills and the communities they serve.
Energy Partners of the Year: Alameda Power & Telecom and City of Palo Alto, Watsonville, CA — Two community-based utilities actively pursued landfill gas opportunities in their own backyard. Tapping renewable energy from local landfills helps them meet renewable energy goals and provide green power to customers who have signed up in record numbers.
Endorser of the Year: CIFAL, Atlanta, GA — Bringing together local government officials and solid waste experts from around the world, CIFAL-Atlanta co-hosted with LMOP the Greening Solid Waste Practices workshop in September 2007. The forum allowed solid waste professionals to explore best practices for implementing landfill gas energy projects to reduce methane emissions, provide a clean, renewable form of energy, and stimulate the local economy.
This post based on information found at the LMOP wfebsite.