Waste Management Inc of New York is speeding up its tapping of gas from rotting garbage to generate clean power from 60 landfills over five years. Waste Management will bring turbines to the landfills to generate more than 700MW of power a year, or enough power for about 700,000 homes, the company said.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says about 425 landfills in the US tap gas for power and an additional 560 dumps hold promising supplies of the fuel. Waste Management, the country’s largest landfill operator, first generated power from garbage in the US more than 20 years ago. It says landfills are more dependable than other sources of alternative energy.
"Unlike wind power, which doesn’t always blow, or solar which doesn’t always shine, landfills produce gas constantly," Paul Pabor, Waste Management’s vice president of renewable energy said in an interview.
Rotting garbage produces a gas that is about half methane, which has about 20 times the heat-trapping potential of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas. Most landfills simply vent the gas to the atmosphere and those dumps are the largest source of human-related methane emissions in the country, according to the EPA.
Waste Management Inc: www.wm.com
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