Greenhouse gases stored within the heaping pile of garbage in the Vancouver Landfill at the southeast corner of Burns Bog in Delta will be captured and turned into an energy source.
In a release, the City of Vancouver announced today it has received regulatory approval from the BC Utilities Commission to produce renewable natural gas (RNG) from the 790-acre landfill, which has been owned and operated by the municipal government since 1966.
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To accomplish this, construction will begin on a new biogas facility in 2020, with completion slated within two years. The resulting RNG product will be used in the city’s buildings, vehicles, and Neighbourhood Energy Utility.
“This is a significant step forward in our ongoing efforts to maximize the beneficial use of the gas we recover at the landfill,” said Cheryl Nelms, acting general manager for engineering services for the City of Vancouver, in a statement.
“Conversion of landfill gas to Renewable Natural Gas, which can then be used in city vehicles and facilities, supports our efforts to address the climate emergency and cut carbon pollution by 50 per cent by 2030.”
The project is a partnership with FortisBC, which has a program of working with farmers and municipal governments to capture and purify biogas created by decomposing organic matter to create RNG. This includes the utility’s existing partnerships with five RNG suppliers and its ownership and operation of two RNG purification facilities at existing landfills.
“This is our largest RNG project to date, and the RNG generated from the landfill will be delivered into the local natural gas distribution system as a renewable source of energy,” said Douglas Stout, vice president of external relations and market development with FortisBC.
When complete and fully operational, the new facility at Vancouver Landfill will reduce emissions by 12,500 tonnes of CO2 annually, equivalent to taking about 2,600 cars off the road every year.
A previous city report indicates the city conducted a similar one-off program in 2017, when landfill gas was extracted from 297 vertical wells and 67 monitoring points and used off-site to generate electricity for sale to BC Hydro and heat Village Farms’ greenhouses.
This resulted in the collection and use of 66.6 million cubic metres of landfill gas, 50% methane, equivalent to the emissions of about 109,000 vehicles. Excess gases were burned in on-site flares to reduce emissions.
The City of Vancouver has an agreement with Metro Vancouver Regional District and the City of Delta to operate Vancouver Landfill, which is currently scheduled to close in 2037. It serves the waste disposal needs of 70% of the entire region.
The landfill has an estimated capacity of 20 million tonnes of waste, and as of the end of 2017 it was estimated to have 7.97 million tonnes of remaining capacity.
Parcels of the landfill site that reached capacity have been progressively closed since 2010. The city is currently seeking a contractor to close a portion of the landfill that was largely filled with garbage to a height of about 15 metres above sea level in the late 1990s.