Global Issues:Climate change - Green house gases
U.S. EFFORTS TO PROMOTE COST EFFECTIVE LANDFILL GAS-TO-ENERGY PROJECTS IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES THROUGH THE EPA METHANE BRANCH
by Charles D. Forbes, SCS Engineers
As municipal solid waste (MSW) decomposes inside a landfill, landfill gas (LFG) is produced. This process starts fairly rapidly, and can continue for as long as 30 years or more. Due to the high concentration of methane in LFG (approximately 50 percent), it is both a major contributor to global warming and a valuable source of energy.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Atmospheric Pollution Prevention Division (APPD) operates a Methane Branch. Among it's many objectives, the Methane Branch is committed to reducing global methane emissions from landfills by encouraging the development of LFG-to-energy (LFGTE) projects. To this end, Methane Branch (USEPA) provides technical assistance and outreach to the LFG industry, developing country governments, landfill owners, energy users, and other interested parties.
OVERVIEW OF USEPA INTERNATIONAL ACTIVITIES
The focus of the USEPA's international activities is to provide assistance to developing countries in how to identify, design, and implement cost-effective LFGTE projects. Specific support activities include the provision of a LFGTE guidance document that contains a wealth of technical information and contact information on potential local sources of project finance, on-site technical assistance, and training workshops. Examples of recent outreach activities are described below.
LFGTE FEASIBILITY ASSESSMENT FOR SAO PAULO, BRAZIL
Through a cooperative agreement between USEPA and the Secretario Municipal do Verde e do Meio Ambiente (the City's environmental protection agency, known as SVMA), LFGTE feasibility assessments were conducted at six municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills located in the Sao Paulo metro region. The draft report, entitled Feasibility Assessment For Landfill Gas-To- Energy At Selected Landfills In Sao Paulo, Brazil, was directed at private- and public-sector organizations interested in developing LFGTE projects at one or more sites. Given the wide range of anticipated audience, the assessment report went beyond a technical evaluation of LFGTE potential at the six sites. For example, the report included an overview of the basic LFGTE technologies that are widely used by the industry today (i.e.,direct use of the gas locally, generation of electricity and distribution through the power grid; and injection into a natural gas pipeline). Brazil is potentially one of the largest energy markets in the world. As discussed in the study report, market opportunities for LFGTE exist within the electricity, direct use, and alternative vehicle fuel sectors. The report also provided an evaluation of the relevant legislative, environmental, and economic factors affecting project feasibility. As intended, the report generated much interest in the site. The City of Sao Paulo was so encouraged by initial inquiries by the development community that a Request For Proposals (RFP) was issued, inviting bids from private sector firms to develop electricity generation projects at the four most promising sites. Proposals are now under evaluation and it is hoped that a winner will be announced next year. Similar feasibility assessments have been conducted at sites in Thailand, the Philippines and Mexico. Draft reports for these assessments are currently undergoing public review (copies are available by contacting USEPA).
EPA has held four LFGTE training workshops in the first two years of the international outreach effort. The goal of these workshops is to educate officials and private sector firms in developing countries in the technical and economic aspects of LFGTE project development, and are free-of-charge to attendees. Workshops have been held in Poland, Thailand, the Ukraine, and Mexico, typically in conjunction with a major environmental symposium and/or exhibition. Workshop sessions include LFG system components and utilization technologies, how to identify feasible project opportunities, and analyzing the economics of LFGTE projects. A highlight of the workshop is a hands-on demonstration of USEPA's LAEEM and Landfill Gas Recovery Project Economics (E-PLUS) models. Locations for 1998 workshops are still under review, with a return to Mexico likely (given the warm reception by attendees and excellent support by the co-sponsors).
USEPA'S FUTURE OUTREACH EFFORTS
The USEPA will continue to offer LFGTE assistance to developing countries. For more information about the outreach activities discussed above, or to obtain copies of the many technical documents available through the outreach program, readers are invited to call the author directly at (703) 471-6150, visit SCS Engineers' home page on the World Wide Web (www.scseng.com), or write to Mr. Charles Forbes, SCS Engineers, 11260 Roger Bacon Drive, Reston, Virginia (USA) 20190. Mr. Forbes can also be reached by E-mail at email@example.com. Alternatively, USEPA's Methane Branch can be contacted directly through its hotline at (888) 782-7937. The program also has a home page (www.epa.gov/lmop.html), and can be contacted through Mr. Tom Kerr, Program Manager, USEPA (6202J), 401 M Street, SW, Washington, DC 20460. Mr Kerr can also be reached by E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Charles D. Forbes
Partners with EPA's Landfill Methane Outreach Program
Phone: (703) 471-6150
Fax: (703) 471-6676
Web Site: www.scseng.com
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