Methane is 28 times worse than CO2 as a greenhouse gas. Landfills across the U.S. leach methane into the air as garbage decomposes. States with Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) frequently designate methane as a renewable to encourage its capture. A methane capture plant can be built next to the landfill to collect the methane and either create power at the plant or compress the refined methane which can be compressed and sold for later combustion. Utilities can comply with RPS by purchasing Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) generated by such Landfill Gas to Energy Flow (LFGTE) projects.
Approximately 650 LFGTE projects are currently operational in the U.S. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 400 landfills in the U.S. — with a combined electric potential of 885 MW or 490 million cubic feet of LFGTE production/ day — do not have gas collection systems but are capable of installing economically viable LFGTE recovery systems.
The environmental benefits of the 650 operating U.S. LFGTE projects: equivalency of (1) carbon sequestered annually by ~103 million acres of pine forests, or (2) CO2 emissions from approximately 312 million barrels of oil consumed, or (3) CO2 emissions from more than 15.2 billion gallons of gasoline.
Data according to the Environmental Defense Fund and the Environmental Protection Agency. Information is current as of January 2017 and subject to change.
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