Refuse is collected daily at the Riverview Land Preserve. But did you know that renewable natural gas is produced every day at the facility as well?
Renewable natural gas – or RNG – is a carbon-neutral fuel that reduces harmful emissions and provides a renewable source of energy. Landfill waste can be put to work by converting it to RNG and injecting it into the natural gas network to fuel transportation, to heat homes and businesses and more.
Officials at the Riverview Land Preserve said the production of RNG is critical so that today’s generation – and future generations – have access to clean domestic fuel and energy. In addition, RNG production generates revenue that increases local and state tax income, which benefits Downriver communities and helps fund schools and infrastructure. Each year, DTE Energy purchases tens of thousands of dollars of renewable natural gas from the land preserve and those funds support vital city public services to taxpayers such as trash pickup.
“Most people don’t realize landfills play such a crucial role in our communities,” said Jeff Dobek, Riverview assistant city manager and director of the land preserve. “They are necessary and an important component of our community infrastructure.”
How is renewable natural gas generated at the land preserve?
Landfill gas is generated in Riverview during the natural process of bacterial decomposition of the organic material contained in landfills. The process is influenced by many different factors, including the type and age of waste buried at the land preserve, the quantity and type of organic material in the waste and the moisture content and temperature of the waste.
Jennifer Boyer, engineering expert at the land preserve, knows the process of collecting methane gas that in turn generates electricity, which goes directly onto the Downriver area’s power grid.
“All the trash contains organic material, which decomposes like it would out in nature,” Bowyer said. “And part of that gas that comes out of decomposition is the methane. We have installed a series of wells throughout the landfill that pulls vacuum from the hill and takes gas out to be collected for beneficial use.”
Officials said the Riverview Land Preserve is proud of the environmentally friendly way that it disposes of methane gas. Most of the methane is directed into turbines that produce electricity. Then, that electricity is sold to DTE Energy. The process utilized technology that significantly reduces emissions while filling an important energy need.
“About three quarters of the gas is taken to the electricity plant (on land preserve property) and is then cleaned to remove some contaminants,” Bowyer said. “The gas is then combusted and operates two jet engine turbines, which then generate electricity. That goes directly onto the grid. It’s about six megawatts per year, which is enough to power over 5,000 homes.”
RLP’s landfill gas system is monitored daily and gas is used for electricity generation, biogas for vehicle fuel or eliminated at the site flare. The wellfield and collection system are expanded annually to provide fuel coverage and maximum gas extraction.
Also, the Riverview Land Preserve as one compressed natural gas (CNG) pump onsite for vehicles, which is easily accessible from the front entrance. The current CNG price is $2 per gallon.
What are the advantages of renewable natural gas?
Besides the revenue and the increase in local and state tax income, there are other benefits of RNG, including:
● It’s sustainable – By converting organic waste to renewable natural gas, an additional source of low-carbon energy is created. RNG by-product can also be turned into fertilizers that return valuable nutrients back into the soil.
● It’s clean – RNG effectively lowers greenhouse gas emissions and results in a smaller carbon footprint.
● It’s versatile – Renewable natural gas can be used to fuel transportation, provide energy needs for homes and businesses and create new revenue streams and jobs for local economies.
● It’s adaptable – RNG is fully compatible with existing natural gas infrastructure, making it easily accessible to residential and commercial customers.
Learn more about the Riverview Land Preserve and more about the RNG industry in North American from the Coalition for Renewable Natural Gas (RNG Coalition).