Thursday, February 22, 2024

Toowoomba shows off Queensland’s first landfill gas re-use project

Toowoomba Regional Council hosted local government and industry representatives at its Wetalla Water Reclamation facility today to highlight the environmental and cost saving benefits of an innovative landfill gas re-use project.

Representatives, including Mayors, Chief Executive Officers and waste managers, from Goondiwindi Regional Council, Lismore City Council, Lockyer Valley Regional Council, South Burnett Regional Council, Southern Downs Regional Council and Western Downs Regional Council saw how methane emissions from landfill can be transformed into renewable energy.

In a Queensland first, biogas recovered from the Toowoomba Waste Management Centre (Hermitage Road East) is being collected and converted into electricity via renewable energy and carbon abatement company LGI’s recently commissioned power station.

The initiative significantly reduces Toowoomba Regional Council’s greenhouse gas emissions while powering the Wetalla Water Reclamation Facility, one of Council’s highest energy users, with reliable, renewable energy.

Water and Waste Committee portfolio leader, Councillor Nancy Sommerfield said Council expected it would save approximately $600,000 a year in electricity costs (based on current tariffs) as well as collecting approximately $150,000 a year in Australian Carbon Credit Unit (ACCU) and electricity royalties (based on current charges/royalty rates).

“I’m especially pleased by this win-win for the environment and our ratepayers. (One ACCU represents a tonne of carbon abated),” Cr Sommerfield said.

LGI Chief Operating Officer, Jarryd Doran said Queensland’s council leaders could save millions of dollars by going green as well as having long-term certainty of their cost of energy.

“Toowoomba Regional Council is a shining example of what can be achieved when councils embrace green initiatives and implement environmentally responsible and sustainable practices,” Mr Doran said.

“In addition to powering the Wetalla Water Reclamation Facility, surplus energy generated by LGI’s Toowoomba power station can also be fed into the National Electricity Grid.

“The partnership is a minimal administrative cost to local ratepayers and also sees Toowoomba Regional Council receive a percentage of Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCU) generated by the project.”

LGI’s carbon cutting approach of using proven, cost-effective technologies to capture and abate harmful methane emissions from landfills and generate reliable (24/7) renewable energy is widely used throughout Queensland, with seven councils across 15 sites, including eight producing renewable energy.

Toowoomba is the only behind-the-meter arrangement of its kind at this time.

Mr Doran said LGI’s carbon-cutting blueprint was becoming even more popular following the Australian Government’s recent commitment to cut emissions by 43% by 2030.

“I’m not surprised councils are looking to follow Toowoomba Regional Council’s lead and turn gas from landfill into reliable, renewable power,” Mr Doran said.

Cr Sommerfield said Council was pleased to partner with LGI in its efforts to cut emissions and save energy costs for ratepayers.

“I’m proud of Council’s work that continues to lead the way in the waste management area with its cost-saving plans for powering part of the city’s wastewater treatment plant with biogas captured and recovered from the city’s nearby landfill at Hermitage Road East, Cranley,” Cr Sommerfield said.

“The renewable energy project allows the gas-fired generator to supply part of the power to run the Wetalla Water Reclamation Facility, in addition to delivering ongoing environmental benefits.

“The gas field (at the landfill site) can support the 1,000-kilowatt generator. “We know landfills are considerable emitters of greenhouse gas and this type of project will help to significantly reduce the emission rate and provide a return that allows Council to reduce operating costs.

“The effects of methane gas emissions are mitigated from the landfill, while reducing the reliance on fossil fuels to power our Wetalla Water Reclamation Facility, which is one of Council’s highest energy users.

“Former Councillor John Gouldson and I started discussions on this project in 2014. We are both delighted that it has come to fruition and is delivering positive results for the environment and improving our operational energy efficiency,” Cr Sommerfield said.

Since December 2022, LGI’s approach has helped Toowoomba Regional Council reduce its carbon (CO2e) emissions by 120,000 tonnes, which is the equivalent of planting two million seedlings for the next decade. More than 12.6 million m3 of biogas has been captured, while 3 GWh of renewable energy generated and 33,000 ACCUs created.  

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