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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Landfill Emissions Income Potential

Impact of carbon price on landfill emissions clarified

Updated 24 May 2012

Following widespread alarmist claims in the media of local councils being "hit by a carbon tax" the Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Mark Dreyfus, has released a statement on how the carbon price will apply to pollution from local landfill sites and the potential impact this might have on rates for local communities.

An estimate of the value of electricity that can be generated from landfill gas.

Ipswich Landfill Renewable Energy Facility
Ipswich Landfill Renewable Energy Facility

To clarify some measurements:

  • Landfill gas is mixture of equal volumes of methane and carbon dioxide.
  • Methane weighs less than carbon dioxide.
  • 1 tonne of landfill gas is about 265 kg of methane and 735 kg of carbon dioxide.
  • Methane is charged 21 times the carbon price of carbon dioxide as it is far more effective as a greenhouse gas.

For a carbon price of $23 per tonne of carbon dioxide the liability for 1 tonne of landfill gas is about $145.

  • $23 x 21 x 265kg/1000kg for the methane; $128 plus
  • $23 x 1 x 735kg/1000kg for carbon dioxide; $17.

Burning 1 tonne of landfill gas converts it to about 1,470 kg of carbon dioxide and some water vapour.

The liability for 1 tonne of landfill gas after burning to form 1,470 kg of carbon dioxide is about $34.

  • $23 x 1 x 1470kg/1000kg for carbon dioxide; $34

Generating electricity should produce about 1.5 MWh per tonne of landfill gas.

  • At a retail price of 30 cents a kW-hour which is $300 for one MW-hour the value of this electricity is $450.
  • The carbon tax liability is reduced from $145 to $34, saving $111. 
  • No carbon tax may be payable: burning or producing energy from landfill may reduce emissions below the level at which carbon tax becomes payable. 

Links to Case Studies of Landfill Gas to Energy at Clean Energy Council website

An outline of some newer waste-to-energy technologies...