The model is a public private partnership for small scale biorefineries at community landfills that will convert a variety of wastes to electricity and biofuel using one of the newer conversion technologies. The model is based on a study funded by USDA and USDOE in 2007 that determined it was both economically and technically feasible. The study looked at different biomass coming into the landfill and in the immediate area, from MSW and C&D to wood wastes, animal manures and sewer sludge. The scale was 250 tons per day of mixed wastes. The estimated cost of the WTE facility was $50 million and the recommend technology was plasma gasification which could produce electricity and/or fuel from the right mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide, syngas. The model has started to be implemented in several communities across the United States.

The model recommends that the WTE plant be sited at the landfill where the necessary infrastructure is in place, there is adequate water supply, water and waste permits have already been obtained, land is readily available to site the plant, recycling is being done and there is easy access to the grid and transmission lines.

There are other advantages as well. Methane gas can be captured – if not already being done – which can be used to run the WTE plant; at least initially until it produces enough heat and steam internally to power itself. If so, not a single ounce of fossil fuels will be used to convert the wastes to energy. Also, there is the possibility of additional wastes that can be ‘mined’ from cells at the landfill which have been closed. There are numerous benefits to the community.

The centerpiece of the model is the commitments required from the public (local government) partner and the private partner (developer/technology company). The public partner agrees to provide a long term, i.e. 15 years, supply contract for all the incoming wastes (MSW,C&D) which cannot be recycled and is otherwise buried in a hole emitting greenhouse gases. It also provides most of the tipping fee it receives from haulers bringing in the wastes, assistance with the permits required, assistance with bond financing and land at the landfill to site the plant.

The private partner commits to building financing and operating the plant. Also, the private partner will secure all the environmental permits and provide the necessary warranties which can include a performance bond. He will arrange a PPA (Power Purchase Agreement) with a utility to purchase all the peak and non-peak power for at least 10 to 15 years and/or an agreement with a blender for the biofuel; which he will have to do in any event to secure the financing.

Local government participation is critical to the success of the model.

Public/Private Commitments Chart


Upcoming Webinars on Local Energy Independence

Critical Renewable Energy Incentive Defeated

The Senate has rejected some renewable energy incentives including the popular Sec 1603 ARRA cash grant for 30% of the capital cost of the investment. Senate bill S.1813 was defeated 74-24 and proponents vow to try again.

Local Energy Independence