Monday, August 27, 2007

The Renewables: Solar, Wind and ... Landfill Gas

An interesting bit of local news with broader implications. Check out Environmental Valuation and Cost-Benefit News for more on this topic. Hey - isn't this sort of thing exactly what universities should be doing? Given that we have virtually no political leadership on the urgent matter of saving our planet and ourselves from seems-to-be certain doom, academics and entrepreneurs are obviously going to have to take the lead.

DURHAM, N.H. – The University of New Hampshire, in cooperation with Waste Management of New Hampshire, Inc., has launched EcoLine, a landfill gas project that will pipe enriched and purified gas from a landfill in Rochester to the Durham campus. UNH is the first university in the nation to undertake a project of this magnitude.

The renewable, carbon-neutral landfill gas ... will replace commercial natural gas as the primary fuel in UNH’s cogeneration plant, enabling UNH to receive 80-85 percent of its energy from a renewable source.

Construction is set to begin immediately ... on the the 12.7 mile underground pipeline, which will transport the gas from the plant to the university’s Durham campus. UNH is expected to fuel its cogeneration plant with landfill gas by the fall of 2008. Estimated cost of the project, including the construction of a second generator at UNH, is $45 million.

At UNH, landfill gas will replace commercial natural gas in UNH’s cogeneration (co-gen) plant, the primary source of heat and electricity for the five million square-foot Durham campus. The co-gen plant, which began operations in 2006, captures waste heat normally lost during the production of electricity and uses this energy to heat campus buildings, making more efficient use of energy resources.

The landfill gas will stabilize the university’s fluctuating energy costs, which have doubled in the last five years and grown at an annual rate of 18.9 percent. EcoLine will also have a major impact on UNH’s carbon dioxide emissions. It will reduce the university’s greenhouse gas emissions an estimated 67 percent below 2005 levels and 57 percent below 1990 levels.

Landfill gas is a naturally occurring by-product of landfill decomposition. Waste Management has a state-of-the-art gas collection system consisting of over 300 extraction wells, miles of collection pipes, and compressors to capture the landfill gas.

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