Renewable energy boost for UK landfills

More methane gas power generation will take place at landfill sites in Cheshire, Derbyshire, East Anglia, Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire, according to waste management company Waste Recycling Group (WRG).

“Currently we produce about 30Mg of power per year, but we’re planning to get to 70Mg within the next four years,” said Stephen Grundy of WRG. The power generated will be bought by regional electricity companies at an index-linked price as party of the government’s Non Fossil Fuel Obligation (NFFO) contracts.

“WRG’s approach is to look at waste as a potential resource that has a value rather than viewing it as a disposal problem,” said WRG chief executive Chris Welsh. The three companies that will manage WRG’s methane power generation are CPL Energy, Hyder Industrial and Combined Landfill Projects. WRG will receive royalties from the sale of the power generated at its sites.

“Methane power generation is an area we’ve always been involved in, but it’s growing and our core business is not power generation but waste management. That’s why we’ve formed partnerships with specialists firms,” explained Grundy. WRG’s projected figure of 70Mg of power within four years is enough energy to supply the annual needs of 68,000 homes.

Mark Johnston, a FoE energy campaigner, welcomed WRG’s announcement. “Additional new and renewable energy developments will make an important contribution to tackling climate change,” he said. “However, the best environmental option is still to maximise the recycling of waste instead of burying it or burning it.”

Grundy agreed: “Wherever we can we recycle, but the country as a whole is not meeting its recycling targets. Once waste gets to landfill it’s unlikely it will be recycled. Methane has to be burned off at landfills anyway, but this way it is being used for power generation in the process.”

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