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Landfill Gas to Energy – The Win-Win Energy Source It Makes Sense to Use

Landfill Gas to Energy is truly a no-brainer renewable energy source (not to waste!), and in this article we explain why this is a fact.

Unlocking Energy from Waste: The Power of Landfill Gas-to-Energy

The Ingenious Cycle of Waste to Watts

TLandfill gas to energy - gas alarm imageransforming landfill gas into energy is not just a sustainable choice; it's a smart one. This method leverages methane—a byproduct of waste decomposition in landfills—to generate electricity. Here's how this green innovation benefits both our planet and our power grids:

Eco-friendly energy production: By capturing methane, we reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate change impacts.

Renewable resource: Landfill gas is an ongoing byproduct, making it a reliable source of renewable energy.

Economic efficiency: Utilizing this method contributes to energy diversification, reducing reliance on fossil fuels and enhancing energy security.

How Landfill Gas-to-Energy Works

The process involves several key steps:

  • Collection: Methane gas is safely extracted from landfill sites through well-designed collection systems.
  • Processing: The collected gas is treated to remove impurities, making it suitable for energy generation.
    Conversion: Using turbines or engines, the processed gas is converted into electricity or heat.

The Global Impact of Landfill Gas-to-Energy

With over 400 successful projects in the United States alone, the impact of landfill gas-to-energy (LFGtoE) is undeniable. These projects not only reduce greenhouse gases but also supply renewable energy to communities, showcasing a win-win solution for environmental sustainability and energy needs. For further insights, explore the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Landfill Methane Outreach Program.

Methane produced by the landfill in a “no-brainer sort of way” should be collected, processed, and piped to a landfill gas-to-energy project for all decent-sized landfills for more than an input tonnage of waste above 50,000 tonnes per annum, for average domestic waste.

After 5 to 10 years of infilling with waste, it should be possible to generate about 300MW of electricity from a small gas engine in what is known as a landfill gas-to-energy project. If however, the waste collection authority runs an efficient organic waste diversion policy, the gas yield may be lower.

However, the unfortunate worry is that between a half and a third of all the gas will still escape to cause the greenhouse gas heating effect on our planet and accelerate climate change.

This is because even lining and Green Certificate will not stop a lot of the gas from escaping, much of which won't even be produced by the waste for 100 years.

How Long Does It Take for Methane to Be Generated at a High Rate After Depositing the Waste in a New Landfill?

Methane is generated within 6 to 18 months after solid waste is put in a landfill.

Peak production starts about a year after deposit in most established landfills, but significant volumes of the gas can be generated for 20 or more years after that when a landfill gas-to-energy scheme is installed, depending on the individual landfill characteristics.

Generating energy from landfill gas to energy (LFGtoE) projects does not only mean decreasing its hazard to our climate; it also serves as a substitute for fossil fuels, such as natural gas.

How Damaging is Landfill Gas if it is Allowed to Vent in the Atmosphere?

Methane is between 21 and 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas, depending on the time interval used. Allowing methane to escape into the atmosphere has significant climate change implications. As the last decade has witnessed, landfill gas is increasingly being used to generate electricity or heat in LFGtoE and this must be having a positive effect.

Methane also has a short, 10-year, atmospheric life.

Because methane is both potent and short-lived, it reduces methane emissions from municipal solid waste landfills. It is estimated to be the second-largest source of methane in the United States.

It's not surprising that climate change experts say that landfill gas utilization is one of the best ways to achieve a near-term beneficial impact on mitigating global climate change through a landfill gas-to-energy scheme.

Landfill Gas Utilization Incentives

Many countries have their own schemes to encourage renewable energy production and LFGtoE projects. These schemes may provide Green Certificates (sometimes called green tags or renewable energy certificates). In the UK, the “Green Gas Scheme” acts like a claim check on each megawatt hour of renewable electricity delivered to the grid, and it applies to domestic LFGtoE schemes.

The recipient of a Green Certificate in the UK owns a claim to a subsidy for providing environmental savings (such as CO2 emissions reduction) that result from the production of that electricity. Such landfill gas-to-energy scheme, when purchased by the electricity user, supports renewable energy development.

This is all part of a bigger picture, to meet future energy needs at the lowest possible cost, energy planners have opted for a mixture of power generation that will include a growing portion of renewable energy.

That renewable energy will come from landfill gas (landfill gas to energy), solar and wind turbine energy. This is in addition to the more traditional kinds of power plants.


Methane is a very potent greenhouse gas, and for that reason is a key contributor to global climate change.

Landfill gas-to-energy is a testament to human ingenuity in transforming environmental challenges into sustainable opportunities. It's a practical, impactful approach to managing waste and producing clean energy, heralding a brighter, greener future.

In many less developed nations, methane emissions from landfills represent a lost opportunity to capture and use a significant energy resource. It is hoped that the CDM (Clean Development Mechanism) carbon credits scheme developed from the Kyoto Protocol in the early 2000s will be extended beyond the next few years.

If so, that will enable more energy from landfill gas schemes to be implemented in the third world nations with help from the richer nations. This is also important, as when released into the air, it is not only a greenhouse gas it also contributes to local air pollution.

Using methane to generate energy in LFGtoE projects encourages more companies to develop better ways to collect the gas and thereby reduce emissions into the atmosphere. For this reason, energy recovery from methane, where economically viable, is of considerable benefit to the environment.

FAQs: Everything You Need to Know About LFGtoE

Q1: How much energy can be produced from landfill gas?

A: The energy output varies based on landfill size and gas collection efficiency but can significantly contribute to local energy needs.

Q2: Is landfill gas-to-energy truly sustainable?

A: Yes, by converting waste byproducts into energy, it provides a renewable energy source while reducing environmental impact.

Q3: How can I support landfill LFGtoE initiatives?

A: Support policies and programs that encourage renewable energy investments, including landfill gas-to-energy projects. Learn more about renewable energy certificates at Green-e.

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    • Chimuka Halooba
    • June 3, 2018

    We want to make use of landfill gas to fuel our combined heat and power plant that will be generating power for refinery processes and export the excess into the grid. We need your software and training.

      • gasser
      • June 27, 2018

      Chimuka Halooba – Thanks for your enquiry. I have emailed you my reply. Please look in your emails. Best wishes.

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