Cache Creek landfill harnesses methane for electricity

Officials say 85 per cent of landfill gas now captured, used to generate power for 2,500 homes

A Wastech employee at the company's new landfill gas capture facility in Cache Creek. The plant converts methane gas into enough renewable electricity to power over 2

The Cache Creek landfill has begun generating electricity from the methane emitted by the millions of tonnes of Metro Vancouver garbage dumped there over the past 26 years.

Three reciprocating engines installed by operator Wastech Services now turn captured landfill gas into 4.8 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 2,500 homes.

The province had made beneficial use of landfill gas a future condition of the landfill’s new operating permit and it was also under a province-wide requirement to capture at least 75 per cent of the gas emitted by 2016.

Cache Creek’s system hit that target years ahead of schedule and is now capturing 85 per cent of the landfill gas that would otherwise escape into the atmosphere and contribute to climate change, said Janet Tecklenborg, environmental services director for Wastech, which is an arm of Belkorp Environmental.

The landfill started capturing gas in 1996 but it had been flared off prior to the completion of the $12-million power generation project.

The electricity produced is sold to BC Hydro.

Methane from garbage is an intense greenhouse gas and last year the landfill captured and flared 22.5 tonnes per day of carbon dioxide equivalent.

The Vancouver Landfill in Delta also captures large amounts of methane, some of which is used to heat nearby greenhouses.

The exhaust from burning methane there is currently released but Village Farms is studying the potential to process and pump the resulting carbon dioxide back into its greenhouses to boost crop yields and reduce emissions that contribute to smog.