May 30, 2021. The Authority’s mission is the development, financing and integration of projects, strategies, and initiatives integral to the sustainability of the economic and environmental future of the county. With this mission at the forefront of their objectives, The Authority, with the help of Energy Power Partners (EPP), has developed an in-house Energy Hub at the Solid Waste Complex located at 169 Jesse Bridge Road, Millville, NJ.
As a result of a Public-Private Partnership, EPP owns and operates a 4,800-kilowatt landfill gas-to-energy plant at the Authority’s Solid Waste Complex. There are three landfill gas fueled engines that produce approximately 20 million kilowatt-hours, enough electricity to power 1,600 homes. This project reduces annual emissions by 15,000 tons of carbon dioxide.
According to the EPA, the emission reduction of this plant is equivalent to removing 3,000 cars from the road, or planting 18,500 acres of U.S. forest, or reducing the import of 32,700 barrels of oil. “EPP appreciates the vision of The Authority with its forward-looking Energy Hub project. This project combines many innovative, sustainable ideas at one location for the benefit of the county and the residents of New Jersey,” remarked Steve Gabrielle, partner at Energy Power Partners.
Landfill gas is a methane gas that forms from the decomposition of garbage in the landfill. Landfill operators extract the methane through a network of pipes and gas wells located throughout the landfill. The Solid Waste Complex currently operates 160 methane gas wells and this number will increase as the landfill expands. The greenhouse gas (GHG) impact of methane is up to 84 times worse than CO2, so collecting this gas and destroying it is important. Many landfills in the U.S. simply flare their landfill gas. The Authority, however, saw the opportunity to use this gas beneficially to further reduce GHG emissions and simultaneously create economic value for the County. To do this, The Authority provides this renewable methane as fuel to produce electricity.
The Authority is proud to be the only landfill in the State of New Jersey to operate a microgrid, maintaining and operating its own electrical infrastructure. The microgrid allows The Authority to more completely recycle on-site energy produced from its own landfill gas. The total economic impact for The Authority landfill microgrid is $13,500,000.
In an effort to further maximize the impact and efficiency of the microgrid initiative, The Authority saw an opportunity to continue to reduce GHG emissions and create economic value by using cogeneration to treat its landfill leachate. Cogeneration is a concept where the hot exhaust from power plant is used beneficially as thermal energy. Landfill leachate is the fluid that collects in the landfill. The Solid Waste Complex treats on average 100,000 gallons per day (GPD) of leachate using a membrane technology called reverse osmosis (RO). However, the RO process creates 30,000 GPD of highly concentrated leachate that still must be trucked offsite for disposal.
Working with EPP, The Authority installed a leachate evaporation system from Heartland Water Technology. Heartland’s solution, called the Heartland Concentrator™, is a patented process that can use the hot exhaust from a power plant beneficially for evaporation, creating an energy efficient cogeneration solution. By evaporating the leachate concentrate, The Authority eliminates GHG emissions and environmental risks associated with nearly 1,500 truckloads per year that were previously hauling leachate offsite, saving the county thousands of dollars per year.
The Authority’s mission to sustain the environmental future of the county does not stop there. The Authority’s Solid Waste Complex has an on-site public compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling station and a fleet of eight CNG-fueled vehicles. CNG emits 50 percent less carbon dioxide than coal when burned. The fueling station was constructed in 2018 and commissioned on January 1, 2019. The fueling station provides the opportunity for businesses who have made the switch to CNG to fuel their vehicles quickly and conveniently.
The Authority and EPP share mutual goals of reducing the carbon footprint of Cumberland County through the creation of renewable energy for vehicles. This is a future addition anticipated for the Energy Hub.