One city’s trash is the same city’s treasure.
The City of Regina is making roughly $1 million a year selling electricity generated at its landfill; a process that involves converting landfill gases trapped at the dump into usable energy.
A new facility, officially revealed Monday, takes methane gas collected from vertical wells in the landfill and uses it to fuel an engine, which in turn powers a generator.
According to the city, the methane gas conversion will generate one megawatt of electricity – enough to power 1,000 homes.
“This winter, from December to January, we saw three new peak usages in the province. The province continues to grow and an extra megawatt of cleaner burning energy is always welcome,” SaskPower power production vice-president Howard Matthews said.
In 2008, the dump began collecting landfill gases through the vertical wells but instead of being converted into electricity, the gases would be combusted with a candlestick flare.
With the addition of the $5 million conversion facility, the city and SaskPower were able to sign on to a 20-year power purchase contract for the one megawatt the landfill will generate.
“This is one megawatt and typically in Saskatchewan any one time we consume on the order of around 3,000 megawatts or so. But… it’s a megawatt of electricity that, otherwise that gas would have gone to waste,” Matthews said.
On top of being a new source of revenue for the city and helping SaskPower inch towards its goal of 50 per cent electricity from renewable sources by 2030, the conversion process helps reduce the city’s carbon footprint.
“Landfill gas is a greenhouse gas, and if you don’t do anything about it, it will emit into the environment,” director of solid waste, Lisa Legault said.
“This new facility reduces harmful greenhouse emissions by about 30,000 tonnes per year, the equivalent of taking 8,000 vehicles off the road.”
The facility has the capacity to add a second generator down the road. According to the city, there is enough methane at the landfill to produce electricity for up to 50 years.