Redlands Coast bioenergy plant’s powerful legacy

The bioenergy facility at Redland City Council’s former landfill site at Birkdale has successfully generated more than 68 million kilowatt hours of renewable electricity over its lifespan.

This equates to an environmental impact equivalent to growing nearly 13 million trees for a decade.

Redland City Mayor Karen Williams said the LMS Energy generator had done a remarkable job for more than 12 years, with declining gas flows leading to its shutdown in October.

Cr Williams said LMS Energy’s Birkdale Bioenergy Facility, commissioned in April 2010, had significantly reduced the former landfill’s impact on the environment, saving the equivalent of 779,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere, equivalent to taking 313,000 Australian cars off the road for a year.

Additionally, the facility has produced enough renewable electricity to power 12,000 Queensland homes for a year.

LMS Energy Chief Biogas Officer Greg Falzon and Redland City Mayor Karen Williams at the bioenergy facility at Birkdale.

“The site’s 85 gas wells have captured more than 76 million cubic metres of biogas in their time, equivalent to destroying 15,000 Olympic-size swimming pools of potentially harmful methane. This has had the same impact as growing nearly 13 million trees for 10 years – a remarkable result,” Cr Williams said.

“However, biogas flows at the landfill, which was capped by Council in 2015-16, have been declining over the years, meaning there is a reduced capacity for LMS Energy to turn it into electricity.

“While power generation will end, what methane gas continues to be produced at the site will still be captured and destroyed under this vital climate initiative.

“LMS Energy is a world leader in this field and has done an amazing job over the past two decades.

“While power generation will cease, LMS Energy will continue to operate the gas capture infrastructure and biogas flare at the landfill site to ensure the methane produced continues to be destroyed – providing ongoing carbon abatement for years to come.”

LMS Energy General Manager Matthew Falzon said methane was a potent greenhouse gas produced by the natural breakdown of waste and its destruction was an important climate strategy to reduce the impact of the 27 million tonnes of waste Australians send to landfill each year.

“LMS supports measures to increase recycling and reduce waste. However, while landfills exist, it’s vital that the potent greenhouse gases that they produce are captured and converted into clean, renewable energy – or destroyed,” Mr Falzon said.

“The success of the Birkdale Bioenergy Facility shows that when it comes to renewable energy, not even waste is being wasted anymore.”

Mr Falzon said the loss of power generation capacity was normal for a closed landfill, with biogas levels generally peaking in the year after a landfill was capped and then slowly declining as the waste further decomposed.

“Each year, LMS Energy’s 55 Australian landfill sites collectively generate 600,000 megawatt hours of baseload renewable energy – enough to power 100,000 homes each day,” he said.

“These sites also abate greenhouse gases equivalent to four million tonnes of carbon, making LMS Energy the largest carbon abatement company under Australia’s Emissions Reduction Fund.

“A majority of LMS projects are based in regional communities, such as Redlands Coast, boosting regional development, jobs and manufacturing.

“The long-standing, strong and collaborative partnership between LMS Energy and Redland City Council will remain, with Council showing a strong desire to support innovative Queensland projects that help protect the local community and the environment – and as well as providing ongoing benefits to their rate payers.”

The Birkdale site was a disused quarry before being used for landfill, with more than a million tonnes of waste buried there over its lifespan.

Its capping marked the end of an era for Redland City Council landfills, with all of the waste collected on Redlands Coast since transported to Brisbane and Gold Coast waste management facilities.