Methane gas from rotting rubbish buried in Kyletalesha will soon be used to power homes across Ireland.
Laois County Council are poised to launch a project which will burn off the greenhouse gas to generate electricity for supply to the ESB.
The project is also being undertaken by Offaly and Westmeath county councils.
Kyletalesha on the Portlaoise Mountmellick road, is full to capacity and closed. For the past eight years, methane and other gases produced by decaying refuse were burnt off to prevent environmental damage and bad smells.
Laois County Council’s Senior Executive Engineer Michael Malone says the gas utilisation project will generate 500 to 800kw of electricity per day, for about five years.
“That is enough electricityto supply 800 to 1300 houses,” he said.
He says the noise from the engine and generator will be less than 50 dBs, complying with the council’s waste licence, and it will be enclosed in a container.
The council have already chosen a contractor to install and operate the project, at no cost to the council.
They expect to sign contracts in March and begin operation by autumn.
The profit from selling on the electricity will be split between the company and the council.
The expected profit can not yet be revealed for commercially sensitive reasons.
Mr Malone says the project is good news on many counts.
“We will be making complete use of this gas rather than burning it off, to produce a useful product. We will own that grid connection which could be put to different use down the road, if we were generating gas from biomass,” he said, adding that the project will help Ireland meet its renewable energy target.
Gas production will drop as the rubbish decomposes.
“About 700 cubic metres of gas is produced per hour. By 2020 that will be down to 250 or 300, it might make sense to go back to flaring,” he said.
In the future, Kyletalesha could become a public amenity, hosting bog tours, but an incinerator is not on the cards, Mr Malone believes.
“The incinerator planned at Poolbeg will cater for half the country, and there are others in Cork and Drogheda,” he said, adding that the council have shelved plans to sell the facility “for the moment”.
A member of Kyletalesha Landfill Environment Committee said it was not informed about the project, and the committee had not had a meeting in recent months.