Landfill Gas Creates Electricity in Beckley
- by JIM ROSS firstname.lastname@example.org
- Mar 26, 2017
Methane gas that had seeped from the Raleigh County landfill or burned in a flare has been captured and now is generating enough electricity to power about 2,300 homes.
· The New River Energy Facility is a joint venture of the Raleigh County Solid Waste Authority and Seven Island Environmental Solutions, a subsidiary of Cox Enterprises. The two generators went into operation March 15 and are running 24/7, said Cox spokeswoman Sonji Jacobs.
· “The Raleigh County Solid Waste Authority is very proud and excited to work as a partner in the New River Energy Facility,” James Allen, executive director of the Raleigh County Solid Waste Authority, said in a news release.
· “RCSWA is an integrated solid waste management facility that prides itself on leading the state in the waste management industry. The addition of this green energy project is another logical step for the prudent management of our landfill gas.”
· Jacobs said the power generation facility near Beckley is Cox’s first in West Virginia. The company does not have any other projects planned in the state, “but we are always looking for opportunities,” she said.
· The Beckley facility is the company’s first landfill-to-energy project, she said.
· “We were contacted by a developer and really loved the idea of creating electricity from a resource that was not being utilized, as well as working with such a forward-thinking landfill,” Jacobs said.
· Landfill gas, or LFG, is a natural byproduct of the decomposition of organic material in landfills. Landfill gas is composed of roughly 50 percent methane (the primary component of natural gas), 50 percent carbon dioxide and a small amount of non-methane organic compounds. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas 28 to 36 times more effective than CO2 at trapping heat in the atmosphere over a 100-year period, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
· Municipal solid waste landfills are the third-largest source of human-related methane emissions in the United States, accounting for approximately 18.2 percent of these emissions in 2014, according to the EPA. When solid waste is deposited in a landfill, it undergoes an aerobic decomposition stage when little methane is generated. Within a year, anaerobic conditions are established and methane-producing bacteria begin to decompose the waste and generate methane.
· Landfills recover LFG through a series of wells and a blower/flare or vacuum system. The gas goes to a central point where it can be processed and treated. Gas can be flared, used to generate electricity, replace fossil fuels in industrial and manufacturing operations or upgraded to pipeline-quality gas where the gas may be used directly or processed into an alternative vehicle fuel.
· West Virginia has lagged behind its neighboring states in finding productive uses for landfill gas. According to the EPA’s LFG Project Data File, Beckley is the third landfill in the state to use methane rather than burning it in a flare.
· The city of Charleston landfill has had a system similar to Beckley’s since 2011. Its collection system uses two generators to produce 1.9 megawatts of electricity for the Appalachian Power system.
· The Wetzel County landfill uses landfill gas to power a boiler that heats leachate for pre-treatment. The heating allows the landfill to use fewer chemicals. That system has been in operation since 2003