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In Focus: Gas extraction

Packington claims to have been be the first site in the country to produce electricity from landfill gas, and saw itself as a leader in landfill technology.

It has been producing enough renewable energy to power an area the equivalent of nearby Coleshill for the past 25 years and is likely to continue doing this for another 20 years.

The site commissioned its first gas plant in around 1987. Stuart Hayward-Higham, Suez technical development director, says: “It was designed originally as two gas turbines, connected to one steam turbine, to take the waste heat from the back of the engine, make some steam and then capture the last bit of energy from that.

“They never quite got enough gas to get the second turbine in, so we had one turbine and a steam turbine. To our understanding, it was unique in the world – the only [landfill] gas-fired combined cycle gas steam turbine system. There was a jet turbine at Mucking landfill in Essex but that was on its own.”

This plant was replaced around three years ago because it was struggling to get replacement parts. They were having to be manufactured from scratch which meant lost operational time, so it was decided that a more reliable and flexible plant was needed.

Overall, the new plant is more efficient and more flexible.

“We can go down in 0.5MW stages, whereas before we had a 3.5MW gas turbine and a 3MW steam turbine which were ‘on’ or they were ‘off’, so it was slightly more difficult to manage,” says Hayward- Higham.

With no more waste going into the landfill site, the gas curve will peak and decline during the next 20-25 years. This will be monitored and engines will be moved away when they become redundant.

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