A study of obstacles to use of methane gas produced in landfills for energy
The purpose of this study is to examine why landfill generated methane gas is not being treated as a resource, and used more widely as an energy source in the Southwestern United States; In this thesis, I have identified four possible barriers that may describe why this resource is not being used more often at landfill operations: (1) technological difficulties, (2) economic limitations, (3) regulatory constraints, and (4) insufficient desire to use. I have explored each of the possibilities in depth through case study interviews with individuals employed at six landfill operations, and individuals associated with landfill policy making; Although it would seem that economic reasons might be the major factor in the decision for implementing conversion to energy programs, data showed that technological factors also weigh heavily in the process. Results show that there may not be sufficient methane being generated, and the added cost of installing conversion equipment is not always perceived as cost effective; Results show a strong correlation between regulations and use, with two of the landfills studied showing regulatory considerations as a detriment. The data showed that among landfill operations that are currently using this resource, an overall reduction or savings had been realized. In all six of the landfills studied, the desire to use gas-to-energy was strong, even when there were strong barriers in the other three areas.