Part 3 Of A 3 Part Series On The Unrealized Potential Of Methane
In 2013 Americans produced 254 million tons of trash. Of that amount, less than 35% was recycled. The remainder goes into a landfill where it will decompose and there it will stay.
In the meantime we have to deal with the methane produced by the decomposition of landfill trash through a process called anaerobic digestion. That is where bacteria and enzymes begin to breakdown the organic material in the refuse. This process produces a broad range of chemicals and gasses, including methane. In America, landfills are the third largest source of methane emissions.
Why all the fuss about methane? Because methane is a destructive greenhouse gas that is 86 times worse than CO2. Most municipalities deal with methane gas by burning it off in flare stacks as seen below. Others invest in very expensive systems to generate electricity.
The expense and maintenance of these behemoth-sized gensets often create a scenario where a landfill’s only financially viable option is to flare the gas off. They just can’t afford the millions of dollars worth of infrastructure to generate electricity from the waste methane.
Another hurdle is the gas quality of the landfills themselves. These expensive gensets can only operate when the methane from the landfill is above a certain percentage. They cannot function in the early years of a landfill, or the latter years. They have a small operational window in which they are useful for generating electricity. When one includes the high cost of maintenance and operation, the expense of producing the electricity cannot be justified and cannot compete with other forms of renewable energy systems.
But there is another option. Volta PowerGen has a solution to the problems caused by the large, expensive and difficult to maintain gensets. The Evergreen Genset, made by Volta PowerGen, is a scalable, robust and low cost per MW genset specifically designed for for landfill applications.
Volta PowerGen’s solutions are scalable in 100kW increments, are less than half the cost to install and maintain per MW/hr than 20th century solutions, and can operate on a much lower concentration of methane thanks in part to their higher efficiency. Volta PowerGen enables small communities to add biogas to their renewable energy portfolio without relying on outside subsidies, while reducing their carbon footprint and creating more jobs in this growing sector. Our small solutions make a big impact.
This allows The Evergreen Genset to generate renewable energy 24/7 and eliminate a dangerous greenhouse gas – again, methane is the most potent global warming gas in existence.