Landfill gas is a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide, with a number of other trace components. It is produced naturally as organic matter in landfill sites decomposition. It comprises approximately 60% methane which is a highly potent greenhouse gas – around 20 times more powerful in global warming potential than carbon dioxide. Generating energy from landfill gas avoids the methane gas escaping into the atmosphere and adding to the greenhouse warming effect. Extracting landfill gas and using it for energy reduces the escape of methane to the atmosphere. Waste management companies have environmental compliance obligations to prevent landfill gas escaping, but the efficiency of collection is improved when there is an incentive to collect it. When used to generate power (or for other energy uses) it helps prevent global warming and reduces the need for energy imports.
The methane in landfill gas is not fossil fuel methane (like natural gas or North Sea gas) – it is a form of biogas. It is produced from the biomass in waste. It can be used to produce electricity, heat, or even transport fuel whilst leaving fossil fuels in the ground.
In an average year, landfill gas supplies more than enough electricity to power the households in a city the size of Glasgow. Where are landfill gas projects located?
The map below shows landfill sites which are generating renewable electricity. There are 414 sites on this map. The data is from Ofgem’s list of accredited generating stations operating under the Renewables Obligation.
For more detailed information and to find out more about this technology please see the REA’s Landfill Gas Forum.