Cache Creek landfill plant to create power from methane

KAMLOOPS - - A plan to use methane gas at Cache Creek landfill — gas that today is flared off in giant stacks — to power the equivalent of more than 2,000 homes will become a reality in June next year.

The B.C. Liberal government is amending Cache Creek landfill’s operational certificate, requiring it to generate energy from escaping methane by mid-2013.

The requirement comes after business talks between operator Wastech Service Ltd. and landfill owner Metro Vancouver bogged down, part of a political battle over waste handling in this province.

Cache Creek mayor John Ranta said the plant will be good for the environment and for his community.

The $8-million electricity generating plant is expected to create three megawatts of energy, enough to power 2,300 homes — more than the combined populations of Cache Creek and Ashcroft.

Today about 70 per cent of landfill gas is captured, up from 50 per cent in early 2011. The gas, methane produced from decomposition, is burned off today in candle-like stacks because the resulting carbon dioxide is 20 times less powerful as a greenhouse gas.

“It’s a good thing,” Cache Creek mayor John Ranta said of the plant, slated to be in operation by June next year.

“It’s flaring something local residents have questioned for a long time. We’ve been studying along with Wastech ways to use the gas.”

Wastech general manager Russ Black said the project will be a money maker both for his company as well as Metro Vancouver, which owns the landfill.

The provincial amendment comes after the two sides could not come to an agreement by themselves. While Wastech was pushing for a deal, Black said the municipality’s decision to abandon landfilling in the Interior — in favour of burning garbage for energy — gave it little impetus to move ahead on a plan.

“They haven’t been willing to invest.”

The plant is expected to pay back the initial capital investment within five years, with another five to 15 years of life as gas production declines over time.

Electricity will be created by burning methane in large reciprocating engines. It replaces a more ambitious plan that would have seen construction of a plant to refine liquid natural gas LNG that would be used to power trucks hauling refuse.

Despite that concept being abandoned in favour of the electrical plant, Black said Wastech is continuing a plan to fuel specially designed transport trucks to run on clean-burning LNG sourced from the Lower Mainland.

Trials of those trucks are now underway.

Ranta said there are also ideas being considered locally to use waste heat produced from the power generating plant. Greenhouses are one idea under consideration.



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