About the Project
The Greater Lebanon Refuse Authority (GLRA) landfill has a history of being on the cutting edge of environmental responsibility for landfills. The gas-to-energy project consists of gas wells, piping, two 1.6-MW generators, the flare (now for backup purposes), and a Renewable Energy Education Center.
Gas capture at the GLRA landfill has occurred in several phases. In the 1980s, a gas-to-energy facility was established by an energy partner at an active section of the landfill, which has since been closed. This facility’s permit did not allow expansion, so while the landfill’s methane production grew through the 1990s, the methane destruction capacity did not.
In 2002, the GLRA installed an enclosed flare to destroy excess gas that the energy facility could not accommodate. This flare ran continuously for approximately five years, during which time the GLRA also invested in gas collection piping in its active landfill areas so that gas could be routed to the flare as the waste started its decomposition.
The early landfill gas-to-energy project reached the end of its life and was closed in the spring of 2007. The carbon crediting standards consider longstanding projects like this as part of the project’s baseline — ordinary operations — so the gas volume historically captured by the early facility is subtracted from the volume captured today when greenhouse gas emission reductions are calculated.
Improvements in landfill gas capture technologies and landfill gas-to-energy generation equipment, the growing demand for renewable energy, and the growing markets for carbon credits all led the GLRA board to invest in a new, larger, and more optimized gas capture and energy project. This project was built with the help of a gas-to-energy partner who shared the capital investment and who benefits by selling the renewable electricity.
In the community
The GLRA Landfill role within the community goes beyond what most people think of when they think about landfills. The landfill has increased understanding of renewable energy in the local community. The GLRA and its energy partner have installed solar panels and a small wind turbine adjacent to the landfill gas generators, and the generator building includes a classroom where students of all ages can view real-time displays of the relative amounts of energy created by these three renewable energy sources.
The GLRA has plans to enhance the project by reusing the waste heat from the generators to replace their fossil-fuel-based heating systems onsite. GLRA staff participate in the US EPA’s Landfill Methane Outreach Program, a program designed to encourage the capture and beneficial use of landfill methane. This project has a visible profile in the landfill gas community as it received a Community Partner of the Year award for 2007.
In addition to the landfill gas to energy project the landfill has also installed a natural aquatic life treatment system to filter lechate from the landfill, thus creating a biodiverse habitat for local wildlife while discharging clean water from the system. They have also installed a 1.25 mile trail that encompassing forest, farmland and three locks of the historic Union Canal, for use by the general public.