About a year from now, around the end of next September, the V.I. Waste Management Authority will begin generating electricity with methane gas collected from the Bovoni system, enough electricity to power 900 homes according to the V.I. Energy Office and WMA.
A facility to capture and collect landfill gas at Bovoni is already complete and in start-up mode, WMA Executive Director May Adams Cornwall said this week during budget hearings. The gas collection system is part of preparations for eventual closure of the landfill.
"It's approximately 500 liters per minute we are pulling right now," WMA Chief Engineer James Grum told senators Thursday. But the raw gases coming from the landfill have to be scrubbed before they can be used as fuel, Grum said. "The gas is approximately 50 percent methane and the other 50 percent is carbon dioxide along with other, trace gases," he said.
WMA contracted Island Roads Corporation of St. Thomas to build the landfill gas to energy conversion facility at Bovoni. The facility will convert the gases into fuel to operate an 815-watt generator, according to the Energy Office.
The project was funded mostly by a $3.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy administered by the Energy Office.
“This project is a critical step towards reducing the territory’s dependency on fossil fuel for power production." said Energy Office Director Karl Knight in a statement. "I look forward to the successful commissioning of this system and to eventually replicating this project at the Anguilla landfill on St. Croix," he said.
The electricity will be first utilized to power the Mangrove Lagoon Waste Water Treatment Plant and nearby WMA facilities and then the rest will be sold to the V.I. Water and Power Authority, generating some revenue for WMA while providing a small amount of cheap, clean power to WAPA, Cornwall told the Finance Committee.
Construction is expected to start in November of this year and be finished by September 2012.
“This project demonstrates the authority’s commitment to pursuing alternative energy to reduce energy consumption and the cost of doing business,” Cornwall said.
The project is funded primarily by a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, administered by the V.I. Energy Office, through the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program. The block grant program is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds, commonly known as the stimulus funds, that have been awarded to the Territory.
Gov. John de Jongh Jr. has established a policy initiative to guide the Virgin Islands in reducing its dependency on fossil fuel by 60 percent by the year 2025. Landfill gas-to-energy projects at the Bovoni and Anguilla landfills are expected to achieve as much as three percent of that goal, according to the Energy Office. Methane is also a powerful greenhouse gas, so preventing it from being released into the atmosphere by the landfill benefits the environment as well.