Landfill Gas: Creating Green Energy in China

With EPA support, ICMA facilitated a partnership between a U.S. city and Chinese municipalities to recover methane gas from landfills and use it as a clean energy source.

Landfill Gas Wells and Collection Piping

Greenhouse gas emissions are of increasing concern as a contributor to global warming, and new technologies make it possible to recover this gas (e.g., methane gas) from landfills and use it for beneficial purposes. Responding to the concern, ICMA launched Landfill Gas: Creating Green Energy, a program initiated and supported by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The program was a part of a public-private Methane to Markets (M2M) Partnership that has a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by promoting the cost-effective, near-term recovery and use of methane, while providing clean energy to markets around the world.

The year-long program, in 2009-2010, was designed to inform and equip local government leaders in China to recover methane gas from landfills for use as a clean energy source by sharing practices developed in the United States. Through the program, Chinese communities gained technical knowledge about landfill gas (LFG) capture systems, management issues and techniques, and financing methods.

Employing the ICMA CityLinks partnership model, the city of Annapolis, Maryland, shared its expertise in landfill methane gas (LFG) recovery with a half-dozen Chinese municipalities. In Annapolis at the time of the program, a closed but uncapped landfill was being modified to capture methane gas for use as an associated heat source in a nearby biomass gasification facility. The sale of methane to the biomass facility was anticipated to provide a long-term funding stream to the city to support the ongoing maintenance, environmental monitoring, and any environmental cleanup required at the landfill.

Another partner in implementing the program was the Zhongguancun Environmental Protection Industry Promotion Center (Z-Park), which has a long history of working closely with energy and solid waste industry experts, local government officials, and environmental leaders to provide training and build capacity in technology applications.

Program activities included a workshop in Changsha, Hunan Province, in June 2010 attended by municipal officials, students majoring in environmental studies, private-sector representatives, and members of the press. Participants gave the workshop high ratings: 97 percent gave it an overall rating of good, very good, or excellent, and 96 percent indicated that there was "a big chance" (49 percent) or a possibility (47 percent) that they would promote a methane gas recovery system following the workshop.

The workshop was followed by a webcast in Chinese in June 2010.


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