A Landfill That Powers Itself: That’s ‘Clean’ Electricity
For the first time in the region, greenhouse gases now are being captured from one of Dubai’s largest landfills to help generate 1 megawatt (MW) of “clean” electricity that is being used to meet all of the landfill’s power requirements.
The project was formally unveiled at the end of July, after construction work was started in January. By 2020, Dubai expects to expand the project to generate 20 MW of power from these landfill gases.
All this is happening at the Al Qusais Landfill, a 3.5-square-kilometer facility that has been in operation for two decades in the UAE. This landfill is one of the largest sites for municipal waste collection in Dubai, receiving about 5,000 tons of waste on a daily basis. With the decomposition of the municipal waste, the landfill site emits greenhouse gases which contribute to environmental degradation.
The greenhouse gases – principally methane and carbon dioxide, which are naturally produced in landfills – are captured using horizontal and vertical gas wells that have been drilled into the waste. Pipes collect the gas, which is flared in a system that burns the gas in such a way that it doesn’t contribute to climate change. If not collected and flared, these gasses harm the environment and create an unpleasant odor.
The electricity needed to run the gas-flaring equipment comes from a GE Jenbacher engine, which uses a small portion of the collected methane gas as fuel. As this project evolves toward the 20 MW goal, more of the methane will be use to generate electricity, rather than go to be flared.
This is the first Jenbacher engine to be deployed for a landfill gas application in the GCC region, and it’s no surprise that this engine was selected for the project. Ecomagination-certified, the Jenbacher is able to provide onsite power (i.e., they are much smaller than utility-scale gas turbines) to facilities such as hospitals or industrial installations, such as the Al Qusais Landfill.
Jenbacher engines also are versatile. They can use a range of fuels, from natural gas to biogas, landfill gas, coalmine gas, sewage gas, and combustible industrial waste gases. They also can generate electricity in amounts ranging from 0.25 MW up to 3 MW.