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

May 14, 2003

NASA, BMW, and Two Utilities Draw on Waste Methane for Energy

A growing number of landfills and waste treatment plants are recovering their methane emissions for use as an energy source, as demonstrated by new waste-to-energy projects at a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) facility in Maryland, a BMW plant in South Carolina, three landfills in Kentucky, and a wastewater plant in Brooklyn, New York.

In Maryland, the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) became the first federal facility to use landfill methane to heat its buildings. As of May 8th, thirty-one buildings on the GSFC campus are heated with landfill gas that is piped from a landfill five miles away. See the GSFC press release and news story (which includes photos).

In South Carolina, BMW's manufacturing plant in Spartanburg is now using landfill methane to provide 25 percent of its energy needs. The project draws on a 9.5-mile pipeline that delivers the gas from the nearby Palmetto Landfill, which is owned by Waste Management, Inc. See the BMW Manufacturing press release and accompanying photos.

Kentucky will soon gain its first landfill-gas power plants, thanks to the East Kentucky Power Cooperative (EKPC). In mid-March, the coop earned approval from utility regulators to build plants at the Bavarian Landfill in Boone County, the Laurel Ridge Landfill in Laurel County and the Green Valley Landfill in Greenup County. All three plants should be built by the end of September, producing a combined total of more than 10 kilowatts of electricity. See the EKPC press release.

And in Brooklyn, the New York Power Authority (NYPA) is making use of methane produced at a wastewater treatment plant. NYPA is installing a 250-kilowatt microturbine to produce power from the methane generated in anaerobic digesters at the New York City Owl's Head Wastewater Treatment Plant. NYPA will also install a total of eight 200-kilowatt fuel cells at other wastewater treatment plants this year. See the NYPA press release.

Companies producing power from waste gas are also able to make money through the sale of renewable energy credits, or "green tags." Gas Recovery Systems, Inc. recently sold a year-and-a-half of credits from two Massachusetts landfill gas systems to Massachusetts Electric at a cost of $1.8 million. CSGServices, Inc. (CSGS) brokered the deal. See the CSGS press release (PDF 77 KB). Download Acrobat Reader.