Conversion of landfill gas for domestic use helps environment and could cut bills

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 June, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 01 June, 2007, 12:00am

A project that converts gas from landfills for household use has cut tens of thousands of tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions and may lead to a minor drop in tariffs.

The HK$230 million project launched in April - jointly implemented by Hong Kong and China Gas, and Far East Landfill Technologies, a landfill contractor under Swire Sita Waste Services - cut carbon dioxide emissions by 3,250 tonnes in its first month of operation.

Under the project, gases collected from the North-Eastern New Territories Landfill (NENT) are treated at a plant that removes unwanted impurities and carbon dioxide to produce a natural gas substitute.

The treated gas is then sent via a 19km pipeline to Towngas' production base in Tai Po, where it is further refined as household gas.

Towngas said the plant had an hourly processing capacity of 15,000 cubic metres of landfill gas, which can be converted into 8,000 cubic metres of natural gas substitute. It is one of only a few plants in the world that converts landfill gas for domestic use and is probably one of the largest.

Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen yesterday told an international climate change conference that the project was an example of Hong Kong's commitment to tackle climate change. The project was made possible by a 25-year tripartite agreement signed in 2004 under which the government will receive a royalty from Far East Landfill Technologies at a single-digit rate while Towngas will pay Far Fast at an agreed progressive rate.

Stephen Tam Pok-man, senior production manager at Towngas, said the project had cut gases leading to climate change and was providing a new source of energy.

'Hong Kong doesn't have any natural resource like oil or gas. But now we have this semi-natural resource,' he said.

However, it takes time for the landfill to generate enough gas to support large-scale commercial applications. The NENT landfill, completed at a cost of HK$1 billion in 1995, is now producing around 6,000 cubic metres of gas an hour and generation is not expected to hit capacity before 2015. It receives about 2,000 tonnes of waste a day.

Stepping on the gas

The project produces 6,000 cubic metres of household gas an hour

Cost of the project in Hong Kong dollars: $230m