Waste Management will soon provide renewable power to the electrical grid for the city of Ottawa as it has received commercial certificate of operation from the Ontario Power Authority under the Ontario feed-in tariff (FIT) program.

Collecting landfill gas and converting it into renewable energy, the facility will be able to generate over 6MW of electricity, enough energy to power 6,000 homes for a year.

Landfill gas which is created naturally as waste decomposes in a landfill, can either be destroyed through a flare or it can be captured, converted and used as a clean energy source, the company said.

The process to convert landfill gas to energy begins with the disposal of organic-rich solid waste into a landfill. As the waste decomposes, gas is produced and recovered by a series of extraction wells placed into the landfill.

The wells are interconnected by a common collection system that transports the gas to a compression facility. There, the gas is processed to remove moisture before being delivered as fuel to an internal combustion engine, which drives a generator to produce electricity.

The generator is connected to a transformer, which increases the voltage of the electricity to match that of the local electrical utility’s distribution system.

Colin Andersen, CEO of Ontario Power Authority, said: “This is a significant milestone for the FIT program and another major step in our strategy to create a clean, reliable electricity system.”

North America-based Waste Management has 115 landfill-gas-to-energy facilities, including one in Quebec and another in development at its Petrolia landfill in southwestern Ontario and these facilities generate nearly 500MW of electricity, enough to power more than 400,000 homes and equivalent to saving nearly seven million barrels of oil per year.

Together with Waste Management’s other renewable energy projects, the Ottawa facility will contribute to the company’s ongoing goals of doubling the amount of waste energy produced from the equivalent of one million homes today, to two million homes by 2020.