Landfilling: may not be the last resort. Landfills as an alternative energy source.
Landfill is often perceived negatively in the context of waste management, as a last resort for waste that is not recycled or otherwise (e.g. thermally) used. However, this may not be entirely true. Even landfills offer opportunities to exploit the potential of the waste they contain. The area they provide also offers opportunities. They become a source of alternative, green energy.
The first way to exploit the potential of landfills is based on the decomposing process that takes place in landfills. Decomposing waste in these landfills automatically produces gas. So-called landfill gas, can be collected through an active degassing system and is then used for heating and electricity generation. The FCC Environment CEE Group has been exploiting the potential of its landfills for many years. The co-generation units in the FCC E CEE Group produce approx. 100 GWh of energy per year.
Another alternative is the use of landfill areas for Growing “Energy Crops”. In particular the slopes of the landfill can be used to ‘grow energy’ in the form of crops such as willow, elephant grass or reed canary grass. The output is in the form of pellets, logs (tree stems) or bales. These can be burnt alongside coal in large power stations, or in smaller installations producing heat and/or power.
Our colleagues in the UK (FCC Environment UK) have planted crops on about 20 sites so far. These energy crops are 'carbon neutral' because the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere during the combustion process of said crops (at the power plant), can be absorbed by other crops during the next growing season.. Energy crops are an excellent choice for FCC Environment because they are perennial and require low levels of management (e.g. pesticides and fertilisers) to ensure yields.
The slopes of reclaimed landfills also provide an ideal area for the placement of photovoltaic panels. FCC Czech Republic is preparing photovoltaic power plant (PVP) projects at the Uhy, Únanov and Žabčice landfills. In all three cases, commissioning is estimated for 2025. The panels installed on all three sites will cover a total area of about 178.000m² and are estimated to produce about 12.300 kW.
FCC Environment CEE wants to continue to use all the renewable resources at its disposal in the fight against climate change and increase its contribution to the circular economy.