Mississippi switches on first landfill gas-to-energy plant

Mississippi has just begun operating its first landfill gas-to-electricity project, which is sending power into the regional grid.

The commercial project will use waste methane from the Golden Triangle Regional Landfill near Starkville in northeastern Mississippi to generate nearly one megawatt of energy, enough to power around 700 average US homes. The Golden Triangle Regional Solid Waste Management Authority will sell the electricity through the Tennessee Valley Authority’s renewable power initiative.

The facility uses a landfill gas engine from GE to generate power from m ethane gas created by solid waste decomposition. The gas would otherwise have been released into the atmosphere, where it acts as a greenhouse gas 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

“We are excited to serve as a model for the development of innovative landfill gas-to-electricity projects to help Mississippi diversify its energy resources and improve the environment,” said Jimmy Sloan, executive director for the waste management authority. He added that the sale of electricity will also generate new revenue that can be used to keep landfill fees low.

According to US Environmental Protection Agency’s Landfill Methane Outreach Program (LMOP), there are more than 558 landfill gas-to-electricity projects throughout the country that are producing a total of 1,727 megawatts of energy.

Landfills are the third-largest, human-generated source of methane emissions in the US, releasing an estimated 27.5 million metric tons of carbon-equivalent to the atmosphere in 2009 alone.

Roger George, North American regional sales leader for GE Energy’s gas engines business noted that, while most of the landfills in the northeastern and western US are developed, a significant amount of waste continues to be transported from high-population areas to rural regions, making the Southeast the fastest growing region for new landfill gas-to-electricity projects.

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