IPCC recommended technologies and practices to mitigate emissions from energy production included co-generation from biomass. Yet one of the consequences of implementation of the European Commission criteria for sustainable biofuel, reported the dismayed Biopact team, was that “biogas from municipal waste could fall out of the boat, even though it cuts emissions by more than 20 % and is a growing sector.” This is unfortunate news for European companies involved in engineering and construction of facilities for the production of electric power from methane extracted from landfills.

Renewables in Germany in 2007
“In 2007, a total of 219.5 billion kilowatt hours worth of electricity and thermal energy were produced from renewables in Germany. Energy from biomass - for electricity generation, heating and transportation fuels - achieved by far the largest share with a total production of 149.6 bn kWh, up from 142.5bn kWh the previous year.” The Biopact team

For instance, one large project of the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) is the São João Landfill Gas to Energy Project, which went on line last summer. Methane gas generated at the São João Landfill extracted from the 150 acre São João landfill and fed to a nearby 23 megawatt power plant. The landfill handles approximately 7,000 tons of urban waste daily, representing 50% of total urban waste of the city of São Paulo, Brazil. The other 50% of São Paulo’s waste goes to the Bandeirantes Landfill.

ARCADIS is an international consultancy and engineering company, based in the Netherlands, with which the Brazilian utility company, BIOGAS is affiliated. BIOGAS has run the Bandeirantes Landfill Gas operation since 2004. When the São João Landfill Gas operation is fully operational, the Bandeirantes and São João power plants together will produce about 340 million of Kwh of electricity annually, an amount sufficient to supply more than 120,000 households with electricity.

The ARCADIS web site reports:

The São João Project has been developed by ARCADIS Logos, the Brazilian subsidiary of ARCADIS together with Van der Wiel Stortgas BV and the Brazilian company Heleno Fonseca Constructéchnica. These three companies formed the joint venture BIOGAS.

The methane gas from the landfill is hazardous to the environment and contributes to global warming. By using the methane gas generated by the two landfills in São Paulo for generating energy, the equivalent of 12 million tons of CO2 will be saved in the coming years. On the basis of the Kyoto Treaty, the joint venture will benefit from 12 million carbon credits to be shared 50%/50% with the Municipality of São Paulo. A part of this will be used to finance the improvement of the area around the landfill as a compensation for the nuisance from the landfill that the local people have been confronted with. Of the 6 million carbon credits that are for BIOGAS, a contract for the sale of 5 million of these credits was already signed with the German bank KfW until 2012.

Natural Gas Pipelines
“Upgrading on digestion gas has been practiced since 1935 and, in Germany, there was large scale injection into the gas grid between 1982 and 1999. Since 1992 there has also been injection into the gas grid in Sweden, Switzerland and the Netherlands. Injection currently only occurs in local distribution gas grids, though. In these cases, relatively small volumes are added, at low pressures, mostly for domestic end-users. As far as is known, no major problems have been reported related to the addition of biogas to natural gas.”

It also is bad news for developers of DFC (Direct Fuel Cells) that envisioned a market for their technology. In California, fuel cells running on digester gas are categorized as renewable energy sources. With concern over natural gas supply, this blog postulated that equipping landfills with the capability to obtain bio-methane from anaerobic fermentation could become a suitable alternative. And, this blog recently relayed a report on the Huckabay Ridge facility in Stephenville, Texas. which is a first in the U.S., although feeding upgraded biogas into the European natural gas grid already is routine1. The Biopact team2 has reported that in the past year such augmentation to the European natural gas grid has been growing in scale.

The EC policy increases the importance of plasma gasification technology gaining environmental credibility. In fact, this blog previously suggested that the city of São Paulo, Brazil might want to consider PAG (Plasma Arc Gasification).
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  1. 1EU research project looks at feeding biogas into the main natural gas grid
  2. 2Biogas can replace all EU natural gas imports

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