The first flicker of an inconspicuous flame in a corner of the city’s landfill today marked a significant step forward for Toowoomba Regional Council’s (TRC) progressive energy re-use project.

Toowoomba Region Mayor Paul Antonio, TRC Water and Waste Committee chair Cr Rebecca Vonhoff and fellow committee portfolio leader Cr Nancy Sommerfield today joined LGI Ltd Chief Operations Officer Jarryd Doran and Project Manager Thomas McWilliam to start the flaring for Council’s landfill gas utilisation project at the Hermitage Road Toowoomba Waste Management Centre.

Mayor Antonio said the flaring marked a milestone for the project, which will provide up to 60% of the power required to operate Council’s nearby Wetalla Water Reclamation Facility.

“After much investigation and preparation, Council today joins LGI to start around six months of flaring to assess the quality and quantity of gas. This is required to determine the appropriate size of the generator that will power our Wetalla facility,” Mayor Antonio said.

“The gas is produced by the breakdown of waste that was deposited at the landfill site since the 1970s.

landfillgas2web“The underground gas is collected by a pipe network across part of the landfill and funnelled to the flare point.”

Cr Vonhoff said landfills were considerable emitters of greenhouse gas and this type of re-use project would help to significantly reduce the emission rate and provide a return that allowed Council to reduce operating costs.

“Council’s contract with LGI ensures we meet obligations under the Environmental Authority to manage landfill gas,” Cr Vonhoff said.

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

“All landfills produce methane due to the breakdown of organic materials in the landfill cells. The methane slowly escapes into the atmosphere if it is not managed correctly.

“It is a condition of our Environmental Authority that we manage the gas, which usually is achieved by simply flaring to convert the methane into carbon dioxide.

“Council is being proactive to ensure the contract with LGI captures the methane gas to generate electricity to offset power to Wetalla, which is a far better use of the gas than simply flaring.”

Cr Sommerfield said Council entered into a 20-year contract with LGI in January this year.

“The project will deliver income through royalty payments to Council from the sale of electricity and carbon abatement programs,” Cr Sommerfield said.

“We estimate the site will produce around 600mᵌ of gas per hour, which is sufficient to run a 1MW generator.

“Work also is progressing on the design of the electrical connection at Wetalla to enable the new power source to be used at the site.

“Specialised electrical equipment will be installed that allows the Wetalla plant to be supplied by a combination of the new gas-fired generator and the electricity grid.

“The new power source to Wetalla is expected to be operating by late 2021.”

Funding for this project will be received under the Federal Government Emissions Reduction Fund for the carbon abatement achieved through this contract.

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Caption: Top: TRC Acting General Manager Water and Waste Services Matt Torr (left), Mayor Paul Antonio, Cr Rebecca Vonhoff and Cr Nancy Sommerfield at the start of flaring at the landfill gas utilisation project (and below left) at the Hermitage Road Toowoomba Waste Management Centre.

Middle: Cr Nancy Sommerfield (left) with LGI Ltd Chief Operations Officer Jarryd Doran and Project Manager Thomas McWilliam, Cr Rebecca Vonhoff and Mayor Paul Antonio inspect TRC's flare testing for the energy re-use project.