Herald-Journal, Spartanburg, S.C.
Trevor Anderson, Spartanburg Herald-Journal, S.C.
June 11, 2009
Jun. 11--Spartanburg-based BMW Manufacturing Co. said Wednesday it will invest $12 million to expand its landfill methane gas-to-energy program.
The program, which was implemented in early 2003, collects methane gas at The Palmetto Landfill in Wellford and transports it more than nine miles via pipeline to BMW's production plant near Greer.
More than 60 percent of the plant's total energy requirements are met by burning methane gas, and Bobby Hitt, department manager of media and public affairs for BMW Manufacturing Co., said the expansion will help the company more efficiently use the gas siphoned from the landfill.
"We're all about innovation and improving our sustainability at BMW," he said. "We're happy to be able to add on to this program."
Hitt said the new system will include two gas turbine generators capable of producing 11,000 kilowatts of electricity. The two new turbines will replace four older ones -- improving output from 14 percent to nearly 30 percent while using the same amount of methane.
The landfill project has saved the automaker about $5 million in energy costs annually. The new turbines are expected to increase those savings by up to $2 million a year while reducing carbon dioxide emissions by about 92,000 tons per year.
"BMW's landfill gas program has been a tremendous initiative for the plant," BMW Manufacturing President Josef Kerscher said in a statement. "Using methane gas to power our plant is one example of our focus on environmentally-friendly production processes."
The German automaker has undertaken a $750 million expansion to add 1.5 million square feet of production space and 500 jobs as it seeks to ramp up annual vehicle production from 160,000 units to 240,000 units by 2012.
Once the additions go online, BMW's X3, X5 and X6 models, and their respective variants, will be produced exclusively in Spartanburg for more than 120 markets around the globe.
But Hitt said the expansion of the gas-to-energy program had less to do with increased energy needs and more to do with improving the plant’s ability to collect and use methane.
"It’s a great project for us," he said. "The new turbines are highly efficient and that's really what this is all about."
Methane, which is produced as landfill waste decomposes, is considered to be a very potent greenhouse gas.
Data provided by BMW said the new landfill gas program will reduce CO2 emissions by 92,000 tons per year, up from 65,000 tons previously reported for the four turbines operating 85 percent of the time.
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