Fredericton landfill earns $350K turning methane into power
Producing enough eletricity to power 1,000 homes after one year in operation
The Fredericton Region Solid Waste Commission earned a profit of $350,000 during its first year of producing electricity from methane.
The landfill has produced more than 10 million kilowatt hours of power — enough to supply 1,000 homes, said spokesperson Brad Janes.
A 20-year deal to sell electricity to NB Power is quickly paying off, he said.
"So, you're talking a total price tag of over $4 million. But this year, we already have brought in $350,000 with our deal with NB Power. So you start doing the math, and this will pay for itself just shortly over a decade. So it's a tremendous piece of business here."
In addition to producing power, the generator also burns off about 45,000 tonnes of methane and other decomposition gases a year — about 99 per cent of the noxious gases, said Janes.
With the volume of garbage we have in here, we're certainly going to have a constant supply.- Brad Janes, Fredericton Solid Waste Commission
It's good for the atmosphere and there's no shortage of fuel, he said.
"We're at around 80,000 metric tons of garbage a year here at the landfill. And we've been open since 1986. So some studies will say that if we closed today, we could still generate methane for approximately 20 years. But with the volume of garbage we have in here, we're certainly going to have a constant supply," said Janes.
Methane gas is produced as garbage decomposes in a landfill.
At most landfills, the methane, which is a potent greenhouse gas, is simply burned off.
Other landfills are currently in talks with NB Power to contribute five to seven megawatts of power.
"There are challenges with interconnecting to the grid. Luckily, taking, for example, the Fredericton Solid Waste, they're close to an industrial park, they're close to a substation. So there's a better potential there to produce more energy," said Jean-Pierre Ouellette, a products specialist with NB Power.
"The further away you get from a substation, it gets harder and harder to put those megawatts onto the distribution system."
The Fundy Region Solid Waste Commission, which serves the Greater Saint John area, was the first working landfill in Atlantic Canada to supply green energy to the energy grid in August 2010.
Methane gas is piped out of the Crane Mountain Landfill into a gas cooling system and then into a generating unit to produce and transmit electricity, which is sold to Saint John Energy.
Between Jan. 1 and March 31, the landfill produced 714,000 kWh of electricity, according to the commission's website.
- Previous version of the story stated the landfill has produced more than 10,000 kilowatt hours of power. The figure should read 10 million kilowatt hours. Also Brad Janes had stated in his quote that 80 metric tons of garbage a year were at the landfill. The figure is actually 80,000 metric tons.Mar 07, 2014 11:05 AM AT