Sep 06, 2022
Your household garbage will soon be feedstock for the natural gas pipeline thanks to an innovative partnership between the Atlantic County Utilities Authority (ACUA) and South Jersey Industries (SJI). The two organizations are teaming up to turn landfill gas created by decaying waste at the landfill in Egg Harbor Township into pipeline-quality natural gas. The project will be the first of its kind in the natural gas distribution system for South Jersey Gas Co., a subsidiary of SJI.
“We are excited to embark on this innovative project that contributes to a cleaner environment and makes beneficial use of landfill gas,” said ACUA President Rick Dovey. “This waste-to-energy project truly highlights what can be done between partners with a shared interest in the community and the environment.”
How It Works
As organic materials break down in the landfill, gases like carbon dioxide and methane are created. ACUA currently captures this gas from various locations in the landfill through an extensive collection system. Once the project is in place, the gas would then feed into a cleaning system constructed by SJI that will remove hydrogen sulfide and other impurities from the gas. Once cleaned to pipeline standards, this renewable natural gas (RNG) will be fed into the natural gas distribution network that feeds area homes, businesses, and compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicle fueling stations.
Why It’s Good
It's better for the environment.
Landfill gases currently make up 6.1% of New Jersey’s greenhouse gas emissions. Methane, in particular, has a strong impact on climate change. Capturing and reusing this gas will reduce those emissions. RNG is a clean energy source, and when used in vehicles, it reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 75% in comparison to diesel fuel.
RNG is interchangeable with traditional pipeline natural gas. It can be fed through the existing natural gas infrastructure without disturbing the distribution network already in place. Besides the cleaning equipment, no new infrastructure is needed.
Landfills are continually producing gas as waste breaks down. Even after active landfills close, gases continue to be produced and emitted for years. For example, the Pinelands Park Landfill in Egg Harbor Twp. has been closed for 30 years and still produces landfill gas! RNG can also be created from alternative waste management technologies, such as digestion or gasification.
RNG can be sourced directly from sites in New Jersey while traditional natural gas that is extracted from the ground comes from out of state.
The project is a result of many years of research into new technology and alternative energy sources. It will showcase the viability of renewable energy projects and help New Jersey reach its climate change goals.
The project furthers ACUA’s goals to clean its operations and fleet and showcases SJI’s commitment to diversifying its energy sources.
Construction is expected to begin summer 2023.