Did you know that methane gas is 21 times more harmful than carbon dioxide when it comes to global warming?
Those of you in the landfill business are aware of the need to mitigate the methane. While flaring or running pipes to tap into existing natural gas lines offers a solution, what if someone told you that methane could fuel a generator set, offsetting your electricity costs and even bring in cash? What if that positive return could continue for up to twenty years?
- One of the first important steps – you need to analyze the quality of your gas. What is the concentration of methane? This is vital to the success of your project.
- Based on the sample, you can determine what other elements could cause harm to an engine, dictating how you want to design your gas cleaning system.
- It also helps you size the power system that you'll need to convert it to electricity.
Several technologies can do this – my background is in reciprocating generator sets. I like recips because they have a long life, are efficient and offer a pretty short payback cycle.
If you come to the conclusion that the project makes economic sense, you'll need a collection system. In general, gas is extracted by using a series of wells and a vacuum system. Pipes are inserted deep into the landfill to provide a point of release for the gas. A slight vacuum is then applied in the pipe to draw the gases to a central point where they can be processed and treated for use in generating electricity.
Rules of thumb:
- Landfill gas develops in landfills in approximately one to three years, depending on the type of waste.
- A landfill must be at least 40 feet (12 meters) deep and have at least one million tons of waste in place for landfill gas collection and power production to be technically feasible.
There are several financial benefits to utilizing landfill gas for power generation:
- Support your own energy needs
- Sell excess to a utility
- Earn carbon credits
In addition, you are offsetting emissions that would be released had the energy been generated by traditional coal-burning methods. It also helps you establish yourself as a good community partner – taking advantage of "green" technology.
There are obvious benefits but what are the road blocks?
- Getting management buy-in?
- Choosing a developer?
- Financing the project?
- Determining which government grants/incentives apply to you? Can your stimulus plan help?
Which of these do you see as the biggest challenge? What strategies do you have to overcome them? Please post your comments below.
Message Edited by woodag on 06-12-2009 12:37 PM
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