One of California’s most powerful landfill gas-to-energy projects to open in the last five years has started supplying renewable electricity to the San Francisco Bay region as the state continues implementing new anti-greenhouse gas initiatives.
The output of the plant is enough to provide electrical power for 7,500 to 10,000 average U.S. homes and will be sold to existing customers and project partners, the City of Palo Alto and the City of Alameda. The plant is twice as powerful as other landfill gas projects in northern California.
Built by energy developer Ameresco Inc., the 11.5-megawatt (MW) biogas plant is located at the Ox Mountain Landfill, which is owned and operated by Republic Services and located in Half Moon Bay in San Mateo County. The biogas plant is powered by GE Energy’s ecomagination-certified Jenbacher landfill gas engines.
“The successful start-up of the Ox Mountain project underscores the commercial feasibility of developing landfill biogas plants as both California and the nation seek to expand the production of electricity from various forms of renewable energy,” said George Sakellaris, president of Ameresco.
Ameresco and Republic Services on July 1 hosted a grand opening tour to showcase the landfill gas power plant to state and local government officials and industry representatives.
Inside the plant, six of GE Energy’s Jenbacher JGS 616 GS-L.L generator sets are using the landfill’s methane-rich gas to generate renewable electricity 24 hours a day. A portion of the electricity is being used to support the landfill’s onsite operations, while surplus power is sold to the cities of Palo Alto and Alameda to support the Bay region‘s renewable energy goals.
The new biogas project reduces the need for Ameresco and the local governments to purchase energy from traditional fossil fuel power plants. Also, by capturing and using landfill gas to generate electricity, less of the gas needs to be flared into the atmosphere.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Landfill Methane Outreach Program (LMOP), the country’s existing landfill gas projects have helped eliminate the combined equivalent of CO2 emissions generated by 14.3 million automobiles.
The Ox Mountain plant is one of about 540 new “candidate” U.S. projects identified by the LMOP program. It also is one of 75 alternative energy projects at Republic Services’ landfills nationwide.
“GE is pleased to supply its Jenbacher technologies to support Ameresco’s showcase landfill gas-to-energy project at Ox Mountain, which we believe will help pave the way for many other larger-scale landfill gas projects,” said Roger George, general manager for GE’s Jenbacher gas engine business in North America.
The Ox Mountain project will add substantial capacity to Ameresco’s power generation portfolio in an emission-restricted area of California through the use of new technologies designed to make landfill gas projects more economically attractive, George noted.
For example, the Ox Mountain project is serving as a model for GE’s pre-combustion “Temperature Swing Adsorber” (TSA) activated carbon gas-cleaning technology. The TSA system can remove harmful contaminants before they can damage gas engine components, making larger landfill gas projects economically more viable. The TSA system’s introduction helps the renewable energy industry address one of the key technical challenges preventing the development of more large-scale U.S. landfill biogas projects.
Northeast Energy Systems and Western Energy Systems, a distributor of GE’s Jenbacher engines, helped supply the Jenbacher engines for the Ox Mountain project.
More than 1,300 of GE’s Jenbacher landfill gas engines have been installed throughout the world, generating an estimated 1,300 MW.