Rumpke is finally taking advantage of a free source of energy that’s been right under their noses.
Rumpke Waste and Recycling announced plans to build a gas-to-energy plant at their Georgetown landfill, which will take gas produced from the landfill and convert it into electricity. Rumpke is partnering with multi-national company Energy Development’s Limited for the project.
The plan is for EDL and Rumpke to build a 4.8 megawatt plant that they claim will produce enough electricity to power 3,000 homes, according to a press release. The plan is to produce the electricity and sell it back to the grid, where electric companies can use it.
The two companies will also apply for a new or amended air permit from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, and construction is expected to begin on the south side of the landfill in 2016, according to Rumpke Spokesperson Molly Yeager
“EDL is delighted to have an opportunity to deliver a new five mega-watt greenfield power station to utilize the landfill gas on a long-term basis from Rumpke’s Brown County landfill,” Greg Pritchard, EDL Managing Director said in a press release. “We look forward to a long and productive relationship with Rumpke.”
According to the US EPA, landfill gas “is a natural byproduct of the decomposition of organic material in landfills.” The gas is composed of roughly 50 percent methane, the main element in natural gas, 50 percent carbon dioxide, and small amounts of other organic compounds.
Within less than a year of waste entering a landfill, Rumpke’s Georgetown landfill currently uses 40 gas wells to pump gas out of the landfill and burn it, using a process called gas flaring, according Yeager. Rumpke is currently in the process of expanding to 80 gas wells, Yeager added.
Gas flaring is not the most desirable response to deal with landfill gas, but it is preferred to releasing gasses like methane and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which can work to decrease the ozone layer and increase temperatures all over the world. The EPA’s preferred method of eliminating landfill gas is converting it into energy for electricity.
“We currently destroy the landfill gases as an odor control measure,” Jim Hext, Brown County Landfill manager with Rumpke said. “We have been working toward this plant for years, and we are very excited to have found a long-term partner with Energy Developments Limited.”
There were 21 operational landfill gas energy projects as of March 2015 in the state of Ohio and 19 candidate landfills, according to the U.S. EPA.
“We are aware that Rumpke has been considering a project like this for several years,” Dina Pierce, spokesperson for Ohio EPA said in an interview. “Back in 2001 we processed a permit for them that allowed them to make a change in their gas collection infrastructure to accommodate a gas to energy project.
“We do consider these good products because they take a waste product and turn it into power or alternative fuel.”