Landfill Gas to Steam Keeps GM Facilities Green

Landfill gas is used for steam operations at seven General Motors assembly plants, and the company’s Oklahoma City plant is the latest to join the ranks. Expanding the use of landfill gas as energy is helping GM fulfill their goal to increase the use of renewable energy in its energy supply portfolio.

GM facilities in Toledo, Ohio; Orion, Michigan; Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Shreveport, Louisiana use landfill gas to power plant boilers. In addition, the company’s Service Parts Operations in Grand Blanc and Flint, Michigan purchase 13 million kWh a year of landfill gas power generated from the Granger Energy landfill gas-to-electricity project. “GM is helping reduce coal and natural gas consumption at its plants and emissions by capturing methane, that would have been vented to the atmosphere from the landfill, and using it as a source of energy,” said Joseph C. Bibeau, group director of GM’s Energy and Utility Services. “Additionally, GM’s landfill gas projects have proven not only to be good for the environment, but to reduce spending costs, generating annual savings greater than $500,000 at each plant.” According to the World Resources Institute and the Green Power Market Development Group in a 2003 study, GM is the largest non-utility direct user of landfill gas in the U.S. By driving energy conservation initiatives and by using various renewable energy sources, such as methane gas, the company has reduced its natural gas consumption by 21 percent since 1995, and is well on its way to achieving its 25 percent energy reduction goal by 2005. The sum of the landfill gas capacity at the seven GM operations is 1.6 trillion BTUs per year, which is equivalent to the energy needed to heat over 25,000 households. The Oklahoma City project is the result of GM partnering with the City of Oklahoma, Allied Waste, Oklahoma Natural Gas, DTE Biomass Energy and Oklahoma Arcadian Utilities. Landfill gas is generated at the city’s Bryant Street Landfill in Oklahoma City, captured and processed by DTE Biomass Energy, then transported to GM’s facility via a pipeline. A steam boiler on site has been modified to burn landfill gas in lieu of natural gas. As a result, landfill gas represents enough energy to produce over one-half of the total steam used at the facility.
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