Understanding Waste to Energy Projects

Converting landfill gas and biogas to fuel are two of the most important carbon avoidance options

Shaun Mattingley


2 mins

There are two projects types that are most familiar when we consider Verra and Gold Standard projects: biogas to energy and landfill gas to energy.

Biogas to energy typically utilizes food waste, cattle waste, vegetable and other organic wastes in biogas plants with purification systems to produce biogas which is equal in terms of quality and calorific value to natural gas.

The main purpose of such a project is to install competent biogas technology and to implement and support it in a location that ensures the continuous local and easy availability of appropriate raw materials. Anaerobic digestion is the prominent technology used for degradation of biodegradable organic waste.

Anaerobic digestion is a biological process that happens naturally when bacteria breaks down organic matter in environments with little or no oxygen. It is effectively a controlled and enclosed version of the anaerobic breakdown of organic waste in landfill which releases methane. Such projects can provide two major benefits for communities; the biogas generated can be used for various applications with the obvious being electricity generation, but also can be used in other ways, such as use in vehicles or bottled for use. In the absence of such project activity, organic matter is left to decay and methane is emitted to the atmosphere – a GHG far more harmful than CO2.

Landfill gas to energy takes the form of a gas extraction plant, equipped with aspirators that create a suction vacuum in the system necessary for landfill gas extraction (“aspiration system”). Landfill gas extracted is used for electricity generation and excess gas is flared in a high temperature flare with zero resulting emissions.

Both project types are classified as avoidance projects – they avoid harmful GHG emissions by preventing methane being released into the atmosphere, and furthermore avoid GHG emissions from the burning of fossil fuel to generate electricity.

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