Publications

- July 1, 2017: Vol. 4, Number 7

Garbage to Natural Gas: Michigan-based company acquires landfill gas-to-energy projects

by Mike Consol

DTE Biomass Energy acquired two landfill gas-to-energy projects in Texas, purchasing both the operating Fort Bend Power Producers’ facility just outside Rosenberg, and the Seabreeze landfill gas development project in Angleton. Construction of the Seabreeze plant was expected to commence in June.

Fort Bend and Seabreeze bring the number of landfill gas-to-energy projects DTE operates in Texas to three and gives DTE five facilities companywide that convert landfill gas to pipeline-quality renewable natural gas (RNG).

The RNG produced at the Fort Bend project is derived from landfill gas that is then ultimately processed to pipeline-quality standards. This low-carbon fuel is “extremely versatile,” according to DTE officials, and “fully compatible with the U.S. natural gas infrastructure.” Currently, RNG is primarily used to power compressed natural gas and liquefied natural gas vehicles, offsetting the use of fossil-based fuel. DTE says the acquisitions are consistent with the company’s recently announced sustainability initiative to combat climate change.

“These landfill gas-to-energy projects support our continued commitment to renewable energy and growing interest in supplying the renewable vehicle fuels market,” said DTE Biomass president Mark Cousino in a written statement. “We see an increasing demand for natural gas powered vehicles — and RNG production provides a clean, sustainable fuel source with the benefit of reduced emissions over standard fuel.”

Constructed in 2013, the Fort Bend facility generates enough RNG to supply fuel for 560 diesel transit buses annually. Later this year, DTE will increase the output of the project by expanding the plant’s capacity to generate enough RNG to fuel more than 1,000 diesel transit buses.

The Seabreeze plant, scheduled to begin operating during the fourth quarter of this year, is expected to produce a similar volume.

The two plants reduce greenhouse gas by collecting and destroying landfill gas that, according to the EPA, is 25 times more harmful to the environment than carbon dioxide.

Nationally, DTE’s landfill gas portfolio includes:

  • 13 projects generating renewable electricity
  • 3 creating natural gas for industrial applications
  • 5 producing RNG for vehicle use and other gas services

DTE Biomass Energy — an Ann Arbor, Mich.-based subsidiary of Detroit-based DTE Energy — has an operating portfolio of 21 landfill gas-to-energy projects in eight states.

Mike Consol (m.consol@irei.com) is editor of Real Assets Adviser.

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