Monterrey, Mexico Taps Methane to Power Its Metro System

In Mexico, methane from landfills, a natural byproduct of decomposing organic matter known as landfill gas, or LFG, makes up 10 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. Beginning in 2001, Monterrey, Mexico—a modern city of nearly four million people that disposes of over 4,500 tons of municipal solid waste a day in the Metropolitan Solid Waste Processing landfill— attempted to harvest methane from the land­fill for electricity while reducing methane emissions. It's a solid ecological one-two punch: reduce gas emissions from solid waste while improving solid waste management.

The project was a joint venture between government and and the private sector and was funded in part by a $5 million grant from the Global Environmental Facility. A seven megawatt plan was built and today captures and converts 214 million cubic meters of LFG into electricity, which powers the light rail transit system, or Metro, by day and light city streets by night. Now Monterrey wants to expand the project to 25 MW facility to cover 80 percent of the munic­ipal government’s electricity. LFG advocates in Mexico hope Monterrey will be an example LFG capture that can be replicated elsewhere in Mexico and Latin America. According to the World Bank, at least three more sites are replicating the project supported through the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) under the Kyoto Protocol.

The city of Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific Coast is one city that is waiting CDM approval for a large-scale project that would capture 52,267 metric tonnes of CO2 per year.

In past posts, we've also covered how Monterrey based CEMEX, a multinational producer of cement and other building materials with headquarters, is planning to develop $120 million in carbon credits via renewable energy projects, energy efficiency, and other CO2 emission reduction projects by 2012, according to Alto Nivel, an online Mexican business magazine.

More on Landfill Gas:
TreeHugger Picks: Landfill Gas, From Trash to Alternative Energy
The EcoComplex Project: Turning Waste into a Commodity
The TH Interview: David Steiner, CEO of Waste Management, Part 1
How to Green Your Electricity

Tags: Alternative Energy | Global Climate Change | Latin America | Mexico

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