Since 1997 Buncombe Counties garbage has been decomposing in it's 53 acre landfill. As it decomposes methane gas is produced. Methane gas is a potent greenhouse gas, in fact its 25x more potent than carbon dioxide, so it’s really important for us to control that emission.
In 2011 the county began investigating a renewable energy project because Methane Gas can be used as a fuel source for a generator.
After careful analysis and engineering, 25 vertical gas wells were installed into the older areas of the landfill to extract the methane gas and begin producing renewable electricity.
Methane to Energy Process
The landfill Gas to Energy Project began in 2012 with the installation of gas collection wells in the landfill. These wells trap the methane gas that is produced as trash decomposes in the landfill. Instead of releasing the powerful greenhouse gas into the air, which can negatively affect air quality, the wells capture it and divert it to run a generator. The generator creates electricity from this gas reducing demand on coal or natural gas which are both non-renewable resources.
The generator will produce 1.4 megawatts of electricity, enough to power about 1,100 homes per year.
This project has been funded in large part by a $4 million federal stimulus grant and loan which were awarded to Buncombe County. The electricity generated will be sold through a joint venture between Duke Energy and the French Broad co-op. Renewable energy credits will be sold to GreenCo Solutions to help cover the cost of the loan and operate the project. Renewable Energy Credits produce about $200,000 in revenue and the electricity sales produce around $600,000 to the County each year.