Study: Landfill gases could be used as energy source

WAILUKU – Converting those stinky gases from the Central Maui Landfill into electricity could create enough energy to power the equivalent of up to 3,000 Maui homes per year, according to a county-commissioned study.

The 2010 study by engineering consultant A-Mehr Inc. estimated it would cost around $12.6 million to develop a 3.2-megawatt gas-to-energy facility at the landfill or around $8.6 million for a smaller, 1.6-megawatt facility. The report will be reviewed by the Maui County Council Infrastructure Management Committee on Monday, at a meeting that also will include a presentation by the county Department of Environmental Management.

The county already has installed a system to collect and control gas emissions from the Central Maui Landfill, and officials now are evaluating alternatives for using the gases as a renewable energy source, the report notes.

Landfill gases can be used in a variety of ways, including electrical generation and conversion into a high-BTU fuel, according to the report. In addition to providing a source of renewable energy, harnessing the gases is beneficial because it reduces greenhouse-gas emissions and can generate revenue from the sale of the electricity.