Ecuador – Methane Capture (Pichacay)

Renewable Energy, VCS

Overview: Methane Power Plant on Landfill Site

This project is a small-scale power plant located in Santa Ana, in the city of Cuenca, central-southern Ecuador. It comprises the capture of methane gas generated by the decomposing domestic and commercial city waste at the landfill site. The captured methane is combusted in engines that convert the captured gas to renewable electricity, which is delivered to the electricity grid.

Benefits: Emissions reductions and economic benefits

The capture and utilisation of landfill gas (LFG) has multiple benefits for the environment and local community. LFG comprises methane and other odorous gases, such as Hydrogen Sulphide, that are harmful to the local environment. Methane is a dangerous greenhouse gas, which is more potent than carbon dioxide. Prior to implementation of this project, the landfill’s LFG was released to the atmosphere. The LFG capture reduces the site’s greenhouse gas emissions and reduces the risk of explosions in the surroundings. Importantly, the removal for other harmful gases from the immediate atmosphere lowers the health risks to the affected inhabitants and improves the living conditions of the directly affected neighbourhoods. Additionally, the renewable electricity produced by the captured methane replaces electricity production from fossil fuels, thus avoiding further greenhouse gas emissions.

The project brings social benefits to the local area through the creation of employment and the development of social projects financed by project funds. These social projects include economic reactivation, health and sanitation, infrastructure, and environmental management.

Project Carbon Credits

The Pichacay landfill site opened in 2001 and receives approximately 115,000 tonnes of waste annually. The LFG to renewable energy project started commercial operation in July 2017 and has a current capacity of 0.85 MW. The capacity will expand to 3.5MW as the project completes its phased expansion and accepts more waste. Projected emission reductions from the power plant are estimated at 33,237 tonnes CO2 equivalent (tCO2e) per year over the 10-year crediting period (2017 – 2027).

Greenhouse gas reductions achieved by the project in the verification period (July 2017 to December 2018)) were equivalent to 38,259 tCO2e.

The project has been approved and verified by EPIC Sustainability Services Private Limited Verra under the United Nations’ Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) for Landfill Methane Recovery. The carbon credits are issued through Verra’s Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) program.

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