Although Complex, High-BTU Gains Energy in Market

High-BTU projects involve purifying landfill gas (LFG) up to commercial natural gas concentrations of methane for injection into pipelines or the creation of LNG or CNG for an on-site fueling station. While the US LFG High-BTU market is about 5% of total projects, this may be the fastest growing sector within the landfill gas-to-energy market based on our discussions at the recent SWANA conference.

According to US EPA LMOP 2016 data, this segment produces 118 mmscfd of LFG, but there also have been a half dozen projects recently announced that would increase that total by more than 10%. Our discussions at SWANA also suggest many other projects are being considered, including possible fuel conversion from electric power generation to high-BTU gas or LNG. There also is more flexibility in gas sales, which are national by nature, compared to electric power, which depends on the local grid and regional tariffs.

At the same time, high-BTU projects are technically more complicated to build, operate and finance. There are four leading methods of purifying landfill gas, each with their own pluses and minuses for gas quality, scalability and marginal costs. They all depend, however, on more precise and granular data than electric power projects. We should all expect advances in the overall LFG sector, particularly for analytics and control, to drive a new wave of innovation as people solve some of the challenges and turn art into science around high-BTU LFG.

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