Clean biogas direct from the supplier … the compost plant!
Municipalities in southern Luxembourg saw the growing streams of organic waste as an opportunity. With upgrades to a processing facility, bio-waste is now converted not only into compost for agriculture and gardeners, but also into clean biogas which feeds directly into the local network. This is good for the environment and contributes to the local economy.
" The key achievement is a long-term solution for sustainable waste disposal of source separated bio-waste that produces clean, storable, locally-sourced and -used energy as well as compost. This environmentally friendly approach also helps to keep the costs of processing waste down because it is offset by income from the sale of by-products, such as fertiliser, and energy savings for locals thanks to the biogas refinery. "
There is no such thing as waste in the circular economy of the future. This is how partners in Mondercange biogas project viewed the challenge of what to do with the 35 000 tonnes of organic waste, equivalent to 44 % of household waste, produced every year in the south-western part of Luxembourg.
Local composting facilities had been transforming bio-waste generated by the 200 000 local inhabitants into fertilisers and compost material for decades. But with national and EU support, and guidance from engineering specialists, a sophisticated upgrade was carried out between 2009 and 2011. Today, the Mondercange plant is also an on-site refinery which converts, cleans and feeds biogas directly into the local network that supplies around 1300 households.
How does it work?
Organic waste is collected, sorted and mechanically treated to separate the biodegradable material which can be processed or ‘digested’ to produce an unrefined methane. It is then purified, under controlled conditions, into a clean and safe gas that can be ‘injected’ or blended into the SUDGAZ public natural gas network.
The now fully operational plant can produce up to 2 800 000 normal cubic metres of biogas, which at full capacity corresponds to between 1 500 000 and 1 700 000 normal cubic metres of purified gas (current output is between 1 100 000 and 1 200 000 normal cubic metres). This clean natural gas is a renewable resource that helps to reduce dependence on imported energy.
Boost for local economy
The project brought together local authorities in and around Esch-sur-Alzette, the second largest town in Luxembourg, who were looking to develop renewable energy while at the same time exploring options for developing a community-run biogas plant.
A syndicate of municipalities and stakeholders negotiated with privately-held composting facilities to take over the running of the new joint composting and biogas facility. “Waste sorting and the sensible use of biological waste is an important condition for protecting our environment and our resources,” notes the project beneficiary Minnet-Kompost, which was involved in the evolution.
Six new posts were added to the 15 jobs carried over as part of the merger. Several years since going online, the plant continues to receive regular visits from other European countries looking to benchmark Mondercange’s achievements, and partners are asked to present their work at international conferences and workshops.
Total investment and EU funding
Total investment for the project “Composting biogas Mondercange plant” is EUR 23 400 000, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 4 000 000 through the “Regional Competitiveness and Employment” Operational Programme for the 2007-2013 programming period.