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US steps up landfill gas to energy efforts

US company Waste Management plans to partner with private and municipal landfill owners to develop the country’s untapped landfill gas resources and convert them into energy.

The company recently broke ground on a landfill gas to energy (LFGTE) facility at the municipal owned Madison County landfill near Syracuse, New York, where it will develop a 1.4MW facility.

The US Environmental Protection Agency has endorsed landfill gas as an environmentally wise alternative energy resource that reduces the country’s reliance on fossil fuels such as coal and oil. There are currently 445 LFGTE sites in operation in the US and the US EPA has identified 535 additional sites as promising candidates. Fully developed these additional landfills could produce enough energy to power more than one million homes.

Waste Management’s renewable energy group provides full service support to municipal and private landfill operators that lack the resources to develop LFGTE projects.

VP of renewable energy Paul Pabor said:

“Waste Management pioneered landfill gas to energy technology over two decades ago, and we operate more of these facilities than any other company in North America.”

Landfill gas, produced when microorganisms break down organic material in the landfill, is composed of approximately 50-60 per cent methane and 40-50 percent carbon dioxide. At most landfills in the US, the methane is simply burned off. LFGTE facilities use methane gas to power generators offsetting power otherwise generated from fossil fuel.

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