Landfill Gas on the Rise

Landfill gas-to-energy plants open in Georgia and Virginia.
By Anna Austin | January 05, 2012

Two landfill gas-to-energy plants have recently begun operating in Virginia and Georgia. One is powering U.S. Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany; the other is selling power to an electric utility.
The U.S. Department of Navy’s Albany, Ga., facility is located at the Fleming/Gaissert Road Landfill.

The 1.9-megawatt (MW) facility was designed and developed by Chevron Energy Solutions, and consists of a dual-fuel engine generator, a stack heat recovery steam generator and two dual-fuel boilers. Chevron will maintain the plant, pipeline and processing equipment, and co-operate the generator and steam-producing equipment with MCLB Albany.

Besides helping MCLB Albany meet its renewable energy goals, the plant is providing Dougherty County with new revenue, as the county extracts and sells the landfill gas to MCLB Albany.

Chevron has guaranteed system performance for 22 years and arranged financing for the project, which is being repaid through MCLB Albany’s avoided energy costs. Jim Davis, president of Chevron Energy Solutions, says the fact that the plant is being funded entirely by energy savings demonstrates how military bases and local governments can work together with the private industry to meet federal mandates without increasing taxpayer costs.

In Virginia, the 6.4-MW landfill gas-to-power plant, Richmond Energy LLC, was built in partnership with Republic Service Inc., Old Dominion Electric Cooperative and Fortistar, which now has more than 20 landfill gas-to-energy projects operating in Republic Services landfills.

The new plant is at Republic Services’ Old Dominion Sanitary Landfill in Henrico County and consists of four reciprocating engine generator sets that will meet the total electrical energy needs of 4,500 residences.

David Comora, Fortistar’s chief information officer, says the project is large compared to other landfill gas-to-energy projects, but by no means the largest. “We have several over 15 MW, and we are completing another one for Republic Services that will come on line early next year, that is 11.5 MW.”
The size of the plant typically depends on the size of the landfill, Comora says. “They can get up there if the landfill is pretty big, and if they have a large acceptance rate, they produce more landfill gas.”

The construction timeline for Richmond Energy was only about seven months, which is fast for a project of this type, Comora says. Building a plant on a large, active landfill isn’t easy. “Putting up an energy project is one thing, but putting one up on a living, breathing landfill that has stuff going on every day is tricky,” he says.

—Anna Austin