This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

July 03, 2002

BMW, GM Draw on Landfill Methane to Power Auto Plants

The trash you throw out today may help produce the car you buy next year, thanks to the recent efforts of General Motors Corporation (GM) and BMW Manufacturing Corporation.

GM announced in June that it is using landfill methane to partially power its manufacturing plants in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Shreveport, Louisiana. The methane is being burned in the company's powerhouse boilers at each facility. An 8-mile pipeline carries the gas from a landfill to the Fort Wayne facility, where it replaces as much as 70 percent of the powerhouse's natural gas requirements. The landfill gas provides about 16 percent of the energy needs for the entire assembly plant.

GM also announced in June that it is buying 8 million kWh of electricity from a landfill gas facility in Michigan, as was reported in the June 12th edition of the EREN Network News. See the May 8th and June 11th press releases from GM.

BMW will soon follow suit: Construction will begin in July on a project to supply landfill methane to BMW's manufacturing facility in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Waste Management, Inc. is collecting the waste gas at its Palmetto Landfill, and a 9.5-mile pipeline will deliver it to the BMW facility. The gas will fuel up to four gas turbines, which will generate electricity while producing waste heat that will be used to provide hot water. Altogether, the landfill gas will provide about 20 percent of the energy requirements for the 2.5-million-square-foot facility. Ameresco, Inc. will design, build, and own the pipeline, gas processing and gas compression facilities for the multi-million-dollar project, which should be complete by year-end. See the Ameresco press release.

Waste Management currently supplies landfill gas to 69 gas-to-energy projects in 21 states with a total capacity of 185 megawatts. A recent addition is the first landfill gas power plant in Nebraska: a 3.2-megawatt facility in Elk Creek that began operating on April 1st. The new facility is owned and operated by the Omaha Public Power District. See the Waste Management press release.