Friday, 7 March 2014

Earning cash from waste

SNP-controlled North Ayrshire Council has revealed it could earn up to a million-pounds over the next five years by selling fumes from decomposing waste.

Landfill gas – mainly methane and carbon dioxide – from the municipal dump at Shewalton, outside Irvine, is now bringing in £200,000 a year. Gas from the compacted waste is converted to electricity after being piped underground to a generator station. In the past, the vapours were extracted through small metal ‘chimneys’ and were burned, rather than being released into the atmosphere.

A 650-metre pipeline transports the gas under the busy A78 trunk road to a unit that turns it into power for the national grid. The Council had to obtain permission from Transport Scotland and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) to install the pipeline.

While the new scheme offers financial benefits, North Ayrshire Council says it remains committed to a strategy of “working towards zero waste” as part of ongoing national initiatives. The Council continues to be one of Scotland’s highest-performing authorities for waste recycling and says such measures “are always given priority over the incineration of residual waste to generate energy”.

Ardrossan & Arran councillor Tony Gurney, the Council’s SNP Cabinet member for Environment and Infrastructure, said, “This is a win-win situation for us in North Ayrshire. All local authorities need to generate less waste, recycle more and safely maximise the use of the resources left in residual waste in line with the local and national Zero Waste Plans.

“Removing the gas in the way we do is environmentally friendly. Converting it to electricity in a generator plant, which is just along the road, is a model of efficiency.

“Energy providers buy the electricity from us for the national grid and we use the proceeds to fund our landfill operations. I can’t imagine a simpler way of demonstrating renewable energy.”

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