THE region could only be years away from powering homes and potentially hospitals with rubbish fumes.
Works are currently under way at the Forest Rd landfill in Tamworth, where crews are drilling 33 gas wells, capturing methane given off from decomposing waste.
The project is worth about $800,000 and it’s the latest sustainability push by Tamworth Regional Council (TRC).
Council manager of waste and water, Dan Coe, said the gas capture project was aimed at reducing the region’s environmental footprint and potentially generating power.
“It could produce around one megawatt, which could [power] around 1000 homes,” Mr Coe said.
But plans for power generation are a fair-way off yet, with TRC set to assess how viable it would be to provide power from the landfill over the next year
“The first 12 months is flaring only and over that 12 months, we will start to assess the viability of power generation,” he said.
Mr Coe said “power generation would be our end goal”, with an idea to run some of the Tamworth hospital with the energy generated already mooted.
Council has already undertaken a range of testing at the site and Mr Coe estimated “120,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year” would be produced from the flaring.
“We have a contract with the Clean Energy Regulator, for the extraction of methane and burning that through a flare,” Mr Coe said.
Over the next two months, crews will continue drilling wells, while installing about two kilometres of pipework and constructing a nine-metre-tall methane flare.
“There’s around 20 metres of waste, we’ve drilled a hole about 15 metres deep,” he said.
“As the waste breaks down, it creates methane and we just pull that out and burn it.
“Basically, it gets piped down to the flare and the flare will burn that methane and turn that into carbon dioxide.”
The project is expected to be completed by the May 1 and there should be a decision on the viability of power generation from the site in 12 months.
Gas capturing at the Forest Rd tip is the latest development in council’s push towards sustainable initiatives in the region.
“In the last couple of years, council has created a sustainability unit,” Mr Coe said.
“So they’re looking at a number of options, like solar panels around our sewerage sites.
“I think recently they’ve looked at street light improvements, as well.”
Last year, council also secured a state government grant to increase local organic recycling, with a facility slated for construction on the Duri-Wallamore Rd.