By BOB PRITCHARD
TOOWOOMBA Regional Council (TRC) will reduce its methane emissions by around three million cubic metres a year and produce about $3 million worth of carbon credits over seven years when the biogas electricity generating plant at Wetaller Water Reclamation Facility begins operating in mid-September.
In a first for Queensland, methane recovered from the 40 hectare Waste Management Centre landfill site next door is being piped to the electricity generator installed by LGI Limited (LGI) at Wetaller, which will provide up to 70% of the power required to operate the Water Reclamation Facility.
Cr Nancy Sommerfield, Portfolio Leader – Water and Waste Committee Toowoomba Regional Council, said it was exciting to see the project about to start operating after almost three years of research, planning and building.
“This is a win-win for Toowoomba, for Queensland, and for the environment,” Cr Sommerfield said.
“We are significantly reducing our methane emissions and at the same time reducing the electricity from the grid needed to run Wetaller, one of Council’s highest energy users,” she said.
Adam Bloomer, founder and CEO of Queensland based LGI, said this was the first time his company had entered into a behind-the-meter contract where the Council provides the biogas, LGI provides the generator, and the Council buys the power produced.
Mr Bloomer said TRC was a leading example of what could be achieved when councils embraced green initiatives and implemented environmentally responsible and sustainable practices.
He said testing at the landfill site over the past two years had shown the site producing around 7.3million cubic metres of recoverable methane, some of which had been burned in flares, and had helped the Council reduce carbon dioxide equivalent emissions by 69,000 tonnes.
“To put that number into context, it’s the equivalent of planting 1.2 million seedlings for the next decade,” he said.
“This is sufficient gas production to power a 1Mw generator now. In the future we may be able to add capacity by installing batteries, recovering more gas or both.”
He estimated up to $10million capital expenditure would be needed at the site over the 25-year life of LGI’s contract with the Council.
“In addition to TRC, we are also helping councils in Gladstone, Bundaberg, Maryborough, Gympie, Moreton Bay and Brisbane capture biogas, decrease emissions and reduce their carbon footprint,” he said.
“At seven of our landfill project sites, we are currently producing more than 87,500MWh annually. That’s enough to power approximately 15,000 homes for a year.”
Funding for this project comes from the Federal Government Emissions Reduction Fund for the carbon abatement achieved through this contract.
The Global Monitoring Laboratory of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimates that waste landfill sites around the world contribute about 16% of atmospheric methane produced by human activities.