EON on Ohio’s LandFill Gas / Sewage Sludge Recovery Mandate

EnergyOhio Network
Ohio’s LandFill Gas / Sewage Sludge Recovery Mandate

Ohio’s solid waste landfills, both the active ones and those already capped, continue to emit an astonishing amount carbon dioxide equivalent air emissions into the environment every year. Much of this is as methane, which is 21 times as potent a greenhouse gas as is carbon dioxide.

These emissions are AFTER our larger landfills have already sucked what gas they can into flares and into renewable power generators. Unfortunately, LFG suction systems only recover 50 – 65 % of the methane released by our landfills.

While our modern landfills are carefully designed, with double liners and seepage detectors, to avoid the escape of toxic liquids, all landfills operate as vast, open-top, gasifiers. They continually generate methane, CO2, H2S, HCl, silanes, and all sorts of VOC’s – the smell you notice when close to a landfill.

Unfortunately, recycling has reduced landfill gas emissions only a little, and Ohio has no policy to recognize and reduce these emissions. Indeed, we in Ohio welcome refuse from other states with our low landfill tipping fees. LFG recovery for power generation has been installed in response to Ohio’s RPS law and it enables investor owned utilities (IOUs) to meet their renewable power mandates.

Ohio is also starting to convert its sewage sludge into renewable power, again, avoiding emissions of methane, CO2, and smelly VOCs. The technology used here has been demonstrated at OSU’s Wooster campus by Cleveland-based Quasar, and installed at the Akron sewage treatment plant to replace a notoriously smelly composting operation with great success. It is also used on our livestock farms to convert manure to clean power – this avoids the heavy pollution of our streams as well as carbon dioxide emissions.

But the RPS law by itself cannot achieve control of LFG and sewage sludge emissions – it was not designed for that purpose. Ohio can only avoid GHG emissions if both landfill gas recovery and sewage sludge conversion are mandated. To avoid the legislation of technology – lawmakers don’t do a good job of designing equipment – a simple carbon emission fee can be imposed, leaving ingenious engineers to minimize those emissions. Every ton of MSW tipped can be charged $20 / ton of potential CO2(equivalent), a standard “carbon cap” based on the methane and CO2 generated. The landfill operator will receive credit for methane and CO2 which is recovered for re-use, and sewage plant operators will similarly receive credit for their recovery of methane, etc. Ohio can issue “carbon credits” to landfills and sewage treatment plants for the first years, with credits declining to zero to encourage recovery of GHGs.
EON 11.12.13

Andrew Grant

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  1. Waste Management Energy Production Rivals Solar Industry

    Get This !!

    By utilizing various methods for creating energy from refuse, Waste Management generates almost as much energy as the nation’s entire solar industry, The Motley Fool reports.
    Waste Management generates the equivalent of 9.8 GW of power through waste-to-energy projects and harvesting landfill gasses. In contrast, the US’ entire solar industry generates around 10 GW of power, the website reports.
    The company has the ability to generate 680 MW of electricity from natural gas harvested from its various landfill and dump sites — enough to power half of the homes in the US annually.
    Last month, Waste Management announced plans to build a plant in Illinois that converts gas from its Milam landfill into useable fuel for its natural gas powered trucks. Waste Management estimates that this single plant will refine enough gas to power 400 large compressed natural gas trucks. The plant should be online in 2014.
    The Illinois facility will be the third such plant that Waste Management operates. But that is just a fraction of the roughly 130 energy projects the company runs nationwide. By 2020, Waste Management wants to generate enough energy to power 2 million US homes, up from 1.2 million currently, The Motley Fool reports.
    If Waste Management succeeds in this goal, it would represent a 67 percent growth in energy output over seven years for a company that’s not even in the energy business. First Solar, by contrast, is aiming to increase its energy production by about 20 percent in three years.
    Earlier this month, Zero Waste Energy broke ground on an anaerobic digestion facility that will convert 11,200 tons per year of food and green waste into more than 100,000 diesel equivalent gallons of compressed natural gas fuel and compost.
    The company says the project will divert almost 95 percent of the organic waste feedstock from landfills and estimates that each collection vehicle will collect enough organic waste during just one route to fuel it for an entire day, creating a closed-loop system.