The decomposition of organic waste in area landfills emits methane, which companies are starting to use as a source of energy. File photo by Ismael Mohamad/UPI | License Photo
Oct. 25 (UPI) -- The operators at a new plant in Minnesota that can use the processes behind the decomposition of organic waste in a landfill to make a type of natural gas said Tuesday the facility represents "the solution" to climate change.
OPAL Fuels, a company specializing in what the industry characterizes as renewable natural gas, and NextEra Energy Resources, one of the largest wholesale generators of electric power in the country, said they've started commercial operations at an area landfill.
The operators said they're able to capture some of the emissions that come from the decomposition of organic material in landfills to produce so-called biogas. Most of those emissions are in the form of methane.
"Methane is a natural byproduct of a variety of sources and is a powerful greenhouse gas," the companies explained. "Renewable natural gas is the right-now solution to the right-now problem of climate change and is one of the most attractive sources of renewable energy.
Renewable natural gas is a growing trend during what's known as the energy transition, the collective global effort to shift dependencies away from conventional fossil fuels. Apart from landfills, producers can get methane through the decomposition of animal waste, such as what's found in the nation's many dairy farms.
Last week, British supermajor BP committed $4 billion in cash to acquire U.S.-based Archaea Energy Inc., a company that operates 50 renewable natural gas and landfill gas-to-energy facilities across the United States.
The partners working in Minnesota said the new facility will be able to produce the equivalent of more than 6 million gallons of biogas per year. That gas will be sent into a pipeline system controlled by Xcel Energy, which meets the electricity needs of nearly 4 million customers in the state.
"This facility is consistent with our belief that a substantial reduction of carbon emissions in the electricity, industrial, and transportation sectors is possible, which represents a significant investment opportunity in the coming decades," said Rebecca Kujawa, the president and CEO of NextEra Energy Resources.