Renewable energy sources should be used as often as possible, but anytime we can take a source of waste and turn it into energy we should be taking advantage of it. I was proud of my city when I saw that the local refuse company, Waste Management, had constructed a Landfill Methane Generation facility. All landfills generate methane gasses and municipal solid waste landfills are the third largest cause of manmade methane emissions in the United States. By using this renewable source of energy, recycling our garbage, we create a cleaner environment by reducing methane emissions and reducing the amount of space that our garbage takes up at our landfills. In addition we generate electricity that can be used to supply power to the surrounding communities without burning coal, oil, or natural gas.
The project in Reno is scheduled to provide 3.2 megawatts of electricity to the surrounding communities with a planned expansion that would bring another 1.6 megawatts, enough electricity to power approximately 2,800 homes; not bad for garbage. The plants take advantage of a natural process where the organic waste decomposes under organic conditions. The key is to trap the gasses and allow them to be directed into a digestion tank where the process is increased by eliminating oxygen. Once the garbage is mixed with water and compressed the methane is captured and piped off for use as fuel to generate electricity. It’s an ingenious solution that solves multiple problems. Society will continue to generate garbage; we should be taking advantage of it, and I’m happy to see that my city is turning garbage into energy.