Lethbridge studying landfill gas options


Within the dark underbelly of consumerism, percolating in the bowels of the build environment disposal site, lies a potential resource. Mind you, it’s about perspective. What was once thought of as landfill flatulence, may now be considered the crown jewel of alternative energy.

The City of Lethbridge, Alta., was successful in its application for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ (FCM) grant for Climate change mitigation and adaptation studies under the FCM’s municipalities for Climate Innovation Program (MCIP).

But what does this really mean to the City of Lethbridge?

Currently, the City of Lethbridge is exploring ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in support of Alberta’s mandate to cut methane emissions in Alberta by 45% by 2025 under the Climate Leadership Plan. In support of this initiative, the City of has proposed to undertake a long-term assessment of landfill gas (LFG) production at its Lethbridge Waste & Recycling Centre (W&RC). With the Approval to Operate in 2016 from Alberta Environment and Parks, there is potentially more than 50 years of opportunity with this project.

The funding will be used for three main studies in 2018.

The first project is an updated LFG Production Assessment. The report will  expand upon preliminary work undertaken to date and address future uncertainties associated with potential LFG production rates associated with waste deposition rates and organic content.

The real question for the first project is: How much gas are we producing both now and in the future? How might future organics diversion impact the future potential feasibility of utilization this resource as feedstock?

The second project is a LFG Management Plan. This report would include an updated conceptual design for a LFG collection system (well field and control plant) based upon the updated development plan currently being generated to optimize LFG collection to support beneficial utilization. This plan would incorporate an integrated strategy with cell development, progressive closure, and leachate management. We will know more precisely where wells should be placed and how they would be connected. We would also know where we would need to close off parts of the landfill to maximize generation.

The real question for the second project is: How much, and when, can we incrementally capture? And how much will it cost?

The final project as part of this grant is the LFG Utilization Feasibility Assessment. This report would provide a general overview of LFG utilization options based upon fuel type (i.e., low grade, medium grade, and high grade BTU commodity feedstock), identify regional and local access to markets, review potential roles the City can play in a utilization project, identify site-specific viable utilization options, and undertake preliminary economic analysis of feasible options based upon a 20-year project term.

The real question for the third project is: What can we do with the gas?

Once we have these studies completed, the City of Lethbridge will be in a better position to make decisions on how to move forward with collection and utilization of our gas.

With over 20 years of experience, Michel Lefebvre, M.Sc., P.Eng. is the consultant on the project and is with Tetra Tech’s Waste Management Practice from Edmonton, Alberta.

Mandi Parker, P.Ag. is a Waste & Recycling Specialist with the City of Lethbridge Waste & Recycling Services Team. She has been employed by the City for two years but has been monitoring landfills since Y2K.