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Landfill Methane Outreach Program

Project Development Handbook

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Approximately 250 million tons of solid waste was generated in the United States in 2008 with 54 percent deposited in municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills. As this landfilled waste decomposes, a process that may take 30 years or more, it produces landfill gas (LFG). LFG contains approximately 50% methane and 50% carbon dioxide with less than one percent non-methane organic compounds and trace amounts of organic compounds. If left uncontrolled, LFG can lead to smog formation and air pollution and can pose an explosion hazard. Furthermore, since LFG contains methane—a greenhouse gas with more than 20 times the heat trapping potential of carbon dioxide—it can contribute to climate change. However, its high methane content also means that LFG can be utilized as a valuable source of energy.

There are substantial opportunities across the country to harness this energy resource and turn what would otherwise be a liability into an asset. The U.S. EPA's Landfill Methane Outreach Program (LMOP) encourages and facilitates the development of environmentally and economically sound LFG energy projects by partnering with stakeholders and providing a variety of information, tools, and services. One tool, the LFG Energy Project Development Handbook, provides LFG energy project development guidance, with individual chapters about the basics of LFG energy, gas modeling, technology options, economic analysis and financing, contract and permitting considerations, and selection of project partners.

The intended audience for this handbook is landfill owners, energy service providers, corporate energy end users, state agencies, local governments, and communities. These and other stakeholders interested in developing this valuable resource can all benefit from information provided in this handbook as they work together to develop successful LFG energy projects.

The handbook is organized into the following six chapters:

  • Chapter 1. Landfill Gas Energy Basics (PDF) (17 pp, 458K) — 9/8/10 - Describes the source and characteristics of LFG; provides the basics of LFG collection, treatment, and use in energy recovery systems; discusses the status of LFG energy in the United States and the benefits of LFG energy projects; and lists steps to develop a project.
  • Chapter 2. Landfill Gas Modeling (PDF) (7 pp, 119K) — 9/8/10 - Describes tools and procedures for LFG modeling. Modeling LFG generation and potential is an important step in the project development process, because it provides an estimate of the amount of recoverable methane that will be available over time to fuel an LFG energy project.
  • Chapter 3. Project Technology Options (PDF) (23 pp, 887K) — 9/8/10 - Describes LFG collection and treatment systems, and technologies that can be used to convert LFG into a useful energy form, such as electricity, steam, heat, vehicle fuel, or pipeline-quality gas.
  • Chapter 4. Project Economics and Financing (PDF) (19 pp, 194K) — 9/13/10 - Provides guidance on the steps for performing site-specific economic analyses and discusses the various financing alternatives available for LFG energy projects.
    • Appendix 4-A. Internal Combustion Engine Case Studies (PDF) (32 pp, 231K) — 9/13/10 - Presents financial analysis model inputs and results for an example internal combustion engine LFG energy project.
    • Appendix 4-B. Direct-Use Case Studies (PDF) (26 pp, 208K) — 9/13/10 - Presents financial analysis model inputs and results for an example direct-use LFG energy project.
  • Chapter 5. Landfill Gas Contracts and Permitting (PDF) (20 pp, 173K) — 9/14/10 - Provides guidance and considerations for landfill owner/operators and LFG energy project developers in securing contracts related to beneficial use and emission reduction projects. Also provides an introduction to the types of federal regulations and permitting requirements that may affect LFG energy projects.
  • Chapter 6. Evaluating and Working with Project Partners (PDF) (15 pp, 225K) 9/8/10 - Outlines how landfill owners and energy end users can find and evaluate project partners and discusses the roles of each partner during project development.

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