At first glance, there’s not much to like about landfills. They’re big, stinky blights on that land and the methane that literally rises from them is a greenhouse gas with more than 20 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). But therein lies opportunity. Landfill gases are also, potentially, a significant energy source – and six landfills that are turning that potential into reality have been honored by the EPA.
The winners – including from Christiansburg, Va; Winchester, Va.; Brainerd, Minn.; Toledo, Ohio; Brook, Ind.; and Pensacola, Fla. – did methane capture projects that, taken together, will avoid the emissions of 165,600 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year. Meanwhile, the direct-use projects will use 830 standard cubic feet per minute and the electricity-generating projects total 13.3 megawatts of generation capacity.
The EPA said capturing landfill gases is one of its highest priorities. In the past 16 years, it said, it has helped with nearly 500 landfill gas energy projects. According to the agency, “landfill gas electricity generation projects now have a capacity of 1,680 megawatts (MW) and provide the energy equivalent of powering more than 994,000 homes annually as a clean energy source.”
Detailed information on landfill methane projects throughout the nation is available here on the EPA’s Landfill Methane Outreach Program (LMOP) page. LMOP is described by the EPA a voluntary assistance and partnership program that reduces GHG emissions by supporting landfill gas energy project development. The program also assists countries throughout the world in developing landfill methane reduction projects through the international Global Methane Initiative.