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Landfill Gas Heats Up Entire French Town

The French town of Plessis-Gassot got bragging rights to the biggest and most powerful landfill gas power plant in France earlier this week, when officials pulled the switch on the new 17.3 MW “Electr’od” cogeneration plant at the local landfill. Plessis-Gassot also became the first town in France to host enough landfill gas power to provide heating for its homes and public buildings.

For the record, the electricity is going into the national grid. However, as host of the new landfill gas power plant, the town expects its heating bills to fall by 92 percent.

But, that’s not what we’re really interested in. What zinged our radar on this one was the involvement of GE, which supplied ten of its Jenbacher gas engines to the landfill gas power plant.

first landfill gas heating district in France

Plessis-Gassot landfill gas power plant (cropped) courtesy of GE.

Renewable Energy Tech And Collaboration

The Jenbacher angle caught our eye because the technology qualified for GE’s collaborative ecomagination global initiative, scoring points for environmental performance as well as economic value.

The Jenbacher series is specifically designed to run at full load under somewhat arduous conditions for a gas engine, including fluctuations in gas quality and pressure.

While not a pure open source platform, ecomagination brings to mind the patent-sharing for fuel cell EVs recently announced by GM and Honda, which might have inspired yesterday’s announcement that Tesla Motors will not pursue lawsuits against “good faith” use of its patents for battery EVs.

You’re going to hear a lot more about collaboration and open sourcing as the global race to transition out of fossil fuel dependency heat up.

Judging from GE’s experience, that’s not just altruism at work. The collaborative approach has been a bottom line powerhouse for GE since ecomagination launched in 2005.

Landfill Gas For A Town In France

The new cogenaration plant replaces a much small and less efficient steam turbine system. With the GE engines, power output went up by 5 MW and the plant’s electrical efficiency increased from 22 to 40 percent.

The breakdown for the ten Jenbacher engines, for those of you keeping score at home, is four 2.7 MW J620 gas engines, five containerized 1.1 MW J416 engines, and one containerized 1 MW J32o. This is also the first installation of GE’s Type 6 landfill gas engine in France.

The electricity produced by the plant is equivalent to fill the non-heating needs of 41,000 typical French homes.

Plessis-Gassot wins out on its utility bills because the plant also has a cogeneration element that produces 30,000 megawatt-hours per year of thermal energy. That’s enough to provide heat for about 2,850 homes.


The thermal energy is going into a new heating and hot water network for homes, public facilities, and a church in the town.

Landfill Gas And Fuel Cells

Once the topic turns to landfill gas, you didn’t really think we’d pass up a chance to drag fuel cells into the discussion, did you? We’ve been having a bit of a conversation about fuel cell EVs over here at CleanTechnica, with one of the topics being the technology’s current reliance on hydrogen sourced from fossil natural gas.

We’re thinking that the potential for using landfill gas, other reclaimed or renewable biofuel, or alternative technology could make that part of the argument moot at some point in the sparkly green future, but that’s just us. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment thread.

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Written By

Tina specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.


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