Waste is creating a natural and beneficial byproduct known as landfill gas (LFG) and government agencies are beginning to learn how to utilize LFG as a sustainable energy source.

LFGs contain roughly 50-55% methane and landfills are the third largest human-caused source of methane gas in the United States. In 2012, landfills made up roughly 18.2% of methane emissions, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. LFGs can produce enough fuels to power tens of thousands of homes, as well as other treatment facility functions.

The notion of using LFG as an energy source, known as landfill-gas-to-energy (LFGE), has intrigued sustainability minded officials at all levels of government, from federal to local. Energy firms have an opportunity partner with agencies not only to win these valuable government contracts, but to also improve the environment.

Waste-to-Energy Projects Provide the Public Sector with New Power Generation Options

In April 2016, Clean Energy Technologies Inc. announced that an innovative waste-to-energy system will be used to provide more than a million kilowatt hours of renewable electricity to power a municipal waste water treatment plant in Tennessee. The technology will convert “some 32 tons of wood waste, scrap tires, and sewer sludge in a fuel gas” that will power the treatment plant.

Furthermore, local governments, municipal authorities, organizations and companies have joined the EPA’s voluntary Landfill Methane Outreach Program (LMOP). These projects range from small-scale community-driven initiatives to multi-million-dollar private investments. The program currently has 648 operational projects, and roughly 400 more landfills as candidates for the program. As it stands, California has the most projects in operation—almost twice as many as Michigan, which comes in as a distant second. Texas has the most candidate projects awaiting EPA’s approval at 46.

The heatmap below shows states with the most currently operational LMOP projects:

States with the Most Operational Landfill Methane Outreach Program (LMOP) Projects:

The business-to-government (B2G) market isn’t simply waiting for EPA to move on LMOP candidate approvals though, other projects are going forward.

Onvia’s database of government projects show that since 2014, local governments (cities and counties) have awarded the majority of contracts related to LFGE efforts. State agencies in Florida and Washington have the largest number of related awards with the majority of the contracts valued between $25,000 and $500,000. Yet, long-term multi-million-dollar contracts aren’t rare. Companies interested in the growing their B2G sales in the LFGE space should be aware that among currently active multi-year term contracts, approximately half are set to expire in two years. These contracts can be easily searched and identified for agency outreach using Onvia’s Term Contract Center.

Here are a few examples of local governments across the country issuing LFGE related contracts:

Hillsborough County in Florida
The county issued an RFP in January 2016 seeking vendor assistance to design, build and operate a landfill-gas-to-energy systems facility.
Cumberland County Improvement Authority in New Jersey
The authority issued an RFP in 2015 to create a regional energy hub to expand existing LFG-to-energy systems and to evaluate potential solutions for food-waste-to-energy systems. A goal is offering renewable energy options for nearby cities and businesses, while also stimulating economic development.

Mike Michels, a co-founder of Cornerstone Environmental Group wrote in recent column that that companies pursuing these projects should know that the many of the largest LFGE projects are already running.

Michels also wrote that communities and citizens could impact movement in the industry too, if they push initiatives to divert organics, such as food and paper products, away from landfills. Companies pursuing LFGE business should consider participation to encourage sustainable practices, such as recycling.

Even though most LFGE projects are already running, as Michels notes, targeting LMOP candidate projects that are awaiting EPA approval is a key area for vendors to keep an eye on. Onvia also recommends tracking upcoming multi-year contract renewals and early budget and spending plan mentions as a strategy to win more government LFGE business.

To Win More Landfill-Gas-to-Energy Projects, Early Awareness is Key

As communities and citizens push for more diversion of food waste and other organic recycling, more innovations in technology and processes to turn waste into energy will emerge.

Onvia’s Spending Forecast Center, a searchable database that allows users to easily search through budgets and spending plans for early mentions of upcoming spending, shows that many cities and towns are already strategizing and discussing large-scale biogas-to-energy efforts biogas-to-energy efforts and anaerobic digesters. Here are just a few examples:

City of Raleigh in North Carolina
The city’s adopted Fiscal Year 2016 plan includes $54.3 million for the 2018 construction of anaerobic digesters at its wastewater treatment plant, including sludge screening, thermal hydrolysis, and co-generation of heat and power.
City of Palo Alto in California
The city’s Fiscal Year 2016 Adopted Capital Budget shows a five-year, $33.7 million project in the works to design and construct anaerobic digesters, biogas utilization, electric co-generation, and a thermal hydrolysis process, which precedes the digestion. The digesters are the final stage in treatment of biosolids to produce material for beneficial use, such as fuels for energy.

Vendors pursuing waste-to-energy related contracts in the public sector are encouraged to search for and track early mentions of upcoming related projects by looking in agency budgets and spending plans.

Learn more about Spending Forecast Center