How Walker used green energy from landfill gas to help GM Canada produce 6.4MW of clean/green electricity at its St. Catharines Propulsion Plant and reduce its carbon footprint by up to 70%.|
GM Canada, St. Catharines, Ontario
Walker’s landfill gas supplied as renewable fuel to a neighbouring GM Propulsion Plant makes GM’s St. Catharines facility its greenest propulsion plant globally.
Walker’s landfill expertise extends well beyond simply taking in waste. The company started collecting landfill gas in the mid-1990s at its Niagara landfill operations prior to regulations set by the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change in 2009 which now required large landfills to collect and flare gas. Landfill gas is a direct outcome of organic waste decomposing in the landfill environment without oxygen. In an oxygenated process, organics – widely known as green bin materials – can be recovered as compost. Without oxygen, the breakdown of everyday organic materials such as leftover food, paper or wood creates methane – a strong greenhouse gas and a large contributor to climate change. If captured, however, the methane produced by organics in the landfill can be directly converted into usable renewable energy.
General Motors (GM) of Canada Company, also known as GM Canada, set an ambitious target of powering all its global operations’ electricity needs with 100% renewable energy by 2040. As part of that commitment, GM Canada determined a cogeneration investment at its St. Catharines Propulsion Plant could be a sustainable and environmental solution to reduce future energy costs and significantly reduce emissions.
Cogeneration plants increase efficiency by reducing energy waste. However, they are typically powered by natural gas which is predominantly made up of fossil methane. If powered instead by a renewable energy source like landfill gas, GM’s investment would become an eco-friendlier choice. As a longtime industrial neighbour to GM’s St. Catharines Propulsion Plant, Walker recognized a unique opportunity for GM to utilize the nearby landfill site as a dedicated source of renewable fuel.
Solution & Results
Harnessing the power of landfill gas is not new to Walker. From 2002 to 2016, the company sent landfill gas through a direct pipeline to a nearby paper mill. This enabled the mill to reduce its energy consumption from traditional sources by 65% versus the baseline in 2000 and displace 200 million cubic meters of natural gas over the project lifespan—the equivalent of powering 80,000 Ontario homes for a year. Walker’s experience from this project was crucial to developing an alternative green energy solution that would help GM reduce its carbon footprint. Walker and its partners developed a means of conditioning and compressing landfill gas for direct delivery to GM’s plant through a dedicated pipeline. By partnering with Walker for green energy, GM reduced its net greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 70%. The amount of landfill gas delivered to this site from Walker powers the equivalent of 6,000 Ontario homes per year – nearly 6.4MW of electricity, or roughly one-third of the site’s total demand – making the St. Catharines propulsion plant GM’s greenest propulsion plant globally.
Up to 70% reduction in GHGs
lowering carbon footprint
6.4MW of electricity produced
equal to powering 6,000 Ontario homes annually
Expertise & Benefits
Walker in partnership with Comcor Environmental Limited managed the project from initial development to start-up commissioning and continues to provide support as needed. This cogeneration project demonstrates the power of local partnerships to deliver results that improve the bottom line, protect the environment and meet sustainability targets.
Key project responsibilities:
- Overall project management and project development
- Design and construction of the landfill gas facility and pipeline to GM
- Obtained all regulatory permits and approvals
- Ongoing operations support
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