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Accessing SCADA data from the Tesla. Photo by Jarryd Doran.

Clean Power

This Tesla Model 3 Powered by Methane from a Landfill

I recently interviewed staff at LGI and had a good look at the amazing machinery they use to convert landfill gas to electricity. Today was a chance to see the power station, which is powered by methane landfill, in operation at Dakabin in Queensland. This council landfill is expected to produce enough gas to power at least two 1 MW generators for 20 years, and LGI has the room to put in a third.

You can watch a quick explainer video from LGI, below, that explains how they’re using biogas to produce fuel.

LGI | What we do with biogas from landfills to help save the planet

Jarryd Doran was involved in every aspect of this power station, from the design, to laying the foundations, to now managing the operations. It is the first one he designed, and he and the LGI team have designed and built another 6. They are currently in the final construction phase of number 8 at Toowoomba in Queensland and in the front-end design phase of number 9 for Nowra in New South Wales. Although the power stations look the same on the outside, there have been many improvements in the technology and behind the scenes.

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Dakabin landfill power station drone shot. Photo courtesy of LGI.

One of the potential improvements is the planned inclusion of EV chargers for council vehicles as they upgrade their fleet. These sites also have the potential for public EV chargers powered by firm, renewable methane power to charge cars, such as Jarryd’s Tesla Model 3 Performance and the CEO’s fully electric Mini.

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In the future, LGI will be able to power an EV from methane. Photo by David Waterworth | CleanTechnica.

I was amazed at the complexity of the task of turning methane from the landfill into renewable electricity. I learnt about siloxanes, a compound commonly found in many of the cosmetics and deodorants we use every day and which end up in landfills. LGI remove siloxanes in the biogas from the landfill to prevent it from reaching the engine. This prevents buildup in the engine, which would otherwise alter its compression and shorten the generator’s life. The key benefits are increased operation and decreased maintenance, less lubrication oil required, and increased energy generation. Most of the power generated is supplied into the local power grid, with the parasitic load of the site being only 3.3%.

Jarryd tells me that beneficially using biogas from landfill is proven technology which has been established for decades. LGI has re-engineered and optimised this technology to make it smarter and more economically productive. This enables LGI to deliver this service to smaller and regional locations. He also discussed the dangers of drilling on a landfill, where you could go from organic garbage to a car body within metres. LGI manages this with its own customised drilling equipment.

LGI uses the latest technology to manage its power stations at all of its biogas operations. LGI’s operators can monitor the stations remotely through SCADA and Jarryd can even access this from the touchscreen in his Tesla (photo at the top of this article). SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) is a category of software applications for controlling industrial processes, which is the gathering of data remotely and in real time. This is aided by the fact that some of LGI’s regional stations are connected using Starlink. “This has helped improve the reliability of the data connection to the site and ultimately our ability to adjust the generator’s operation in the energy market.” The Benaraby site is a good example.

Grace is doing an internship at LGI as part of her university degree in Architecture and Construction Management. I asked her why she wanted to get involved with extraction of biogas from landfills and LGI. Her answer was quite surprising. She said she enjoys the challenge of multiple problem solving tasks — “more complicated than solar!”

LGI has taken delivery of its first Tesla Megapack battery (1.3MW/2.6MWh), with plans to install this by the third quarter of this year at an existing biogas-to-electricity site in Queensland. “This will be an Australian first to combine biogas fueled electricity generation with the fast response and flexibility of a battery.” See the video on how renewables affect the grid here.

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Tesla Megapack delivered to LGI Brisbane. Photo courtesy of LGI.

LGI provides economically viable high-tech solutions to the age old problem of what to do with our rubbish. Saving the planet one landfill at a time.

Featured photo by Jarryd Doran.

 
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Written By

David Waterworth is a retired teacher who divides his time between looking after his grandchildren and trying to make sure they have a planet to live on. He is long on Tesla [NASDAQ:TSLA].

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