Creating Energy For Georgia From Landfill Gas

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Landfill biogas-fueled generators can reduce the demand for Georgia natural gas and keep prices low.
Once buried and left to rot, the garbage decaying in this landfill could eventually generate electricity for metro Atlanta, reducing the demand for Georgia natural gas, keeping prices low.

Can Landfill Gas Be Used for Energy In Georgia?

Natural gas is a safe, clean fossil fuel, and with cheap deals on natural gas available throughout Georgia, it’s a popular way to heat American homes. However, it’s not the only type of gas that we use to produce energy. Biogas is a produced through the anaerobic decomposition of organic waste and innovative techniques are used to utilize sources of methane rather than being just released into the atmosphere. Georgia currently has 39 operational biogas systems. Of these, 23 are landfills.

What Use Is A Landfill?

Picture a landfill – a huge heap of rotting garbage. If you or I were to look at it, we wouldn’t see anything worthwhile. Instead of using Atlanta natural gas suppliers, county waste engineers have found a way to turn the waste we throw away into a sustainable way generate electricity. We can achieve this by harnessing the power of decomposition. 

How Do We Generate Power From Landfills?

The waste that piles up in landfill decomposes over time thanks to the action of microbes and bacteria. As they break down waste these microbes release methane, a combustible gas that’s a major contributor to global warming. Instead of allowing this methane to leak out into the atmosphere, landfill owners collect it and siphon it away to a processing facility. For a long time the gas was simply disposed of by burning it away, but now landfill gas is being used to generate electricity.

After being dried and treated, methane captured from landfills can be burned to produce steam that spin up electric generators. This electricity can then be distributed to homes and businesses across the state.

Why Don’t We Use Landfill Instead Of Natural Gas In Our Homes?

The low-priced Georgia natural gas that you use in your home is very different to the gas collected from landfills. Natural gas is typically at least 80% methane. Landfill gas also often contains a huge range of contaminants and impurities, as you’d expect from a gas that’s created out of garbage, and can contain methane levels as low as 40%. Because the quality of landfill gas can vary widely, it’s impossible to use it reliably in home appliances. Your home’s furnace, water heater, and stove wouldn’t work as efficiently and would probably require more repairs and maintenance.

The electric generators that burn this low-purity landfill gas must be specifically designed, but they can still produce a significant amount of energy. Georgia Power has contracts with landfill power producers who can generate up to 25MW of electricity from this waste gas.

Is Landfill Gas Renewable Energy?

Landfill gas is often considered a renewable energy, allowing energy distributors and marketers to claim that a certain percentage of their electricity is “green”. Most people think of wind, solar or tidal energy when they hear this, though, and few think of waste gases being burned. To be sure, there are a lot of pollutants built up in landfill gas that are released into the atmosphere when it’s burned so landfill gas certainly isn’t a “zero emission” technology. However, it’s true that landfill gas is renewable in one important sense; it consumes a byproduct of our own waste, rather than the finite natural resources of fossil fuels.

 

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