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Renewable energy from landfills

Renewable Energy From Landfills

The common forms of renewable energy are wind, solar and hydroelectric. But, there is another energy form that is created all over the world: garbage. In the recent past, waste management methods have been developed to reuse the waste. It could be either through recycling or by creating energy. Scientists have developed a technology to transform landfill gas into fuel for operating vehicles.

The increase in the utilization of landfill gas can be due to several reasons. Due to high energy prices, landfill gas has become cost-competitive in comparison to other forms of renewable energy. Again, utilities are seeking alternate sources of renewable energy to meet renewable portfolio standards. Landfill is valuable since it delivers base load power. Consumers are also looking for greener energy.

Landfill-gas is a renewable source that has been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency as a substitute to fossil fuels such as natural gas, coal and oil. Landfill gas comprises of nearly 50% methane, 42% carbon dioxide, 7% nitrogen and 1% oxygen compounds. For e.g.: if landfill is utilized to produce 550 megawatts of electricity, it would result in negating 2.2 million tons of coal each year.

Landfill gas projects generate revenue from the sale of the gas. They also develop green jobs related to the design, construction and management of energy systems. According to Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) “energy-from-waste facilities are economically sound investments that provide multiple financial and environmental benefits to the communities that utilize them."

Energy from waste (EfW) technologies includes:

• Combustion where in the residual waste burns at 850°C and the energy is recovered as electricity/heat.

• Gasification and pyrolysis, in which the fuel is heated with less or no oxygen to create “syngas”. This can be utilized for generating energy and as a feedstock for producing methane, chemicals, biofuel.

• Anaerobic digestion - It utilizes microorganisms to transform organic waste into a methane based organic waste. It can be combusted to create electricity.

- Jess Potts
Published on:
April 27, 2015
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