June 15 - A community in East Java, Indonesia, is turning methane from the local garbage dump into gas for more than 400 homes. Local authorities have set up a system where methane produced by rotting waste is extracted and pumped to villages nearby, turning greenhouse gas emissions into useful energy. Tara Cleary reports.
The Indonesian province of Malang produces 600 tonnes of garbage every day and most if it ends up here at the local dump. The rotting piles of waste are a source of methane gas, a bi-product of decomposition and a major contributor to global warming. But here at the dump, authorities have turned an environmental hazard into a resource. They're capturing the methane and converting it into a source of energy for more than 400 nearby homes, according to landfill technical manager Lanto. SOUNDBITE: LANTO, TECHNICAL MANAGER OF SUPITURANG LANDFILL, SAYING (Bahasa Indonesia): "We extract methane gas emitted from these garbage piles and transfer it through 48 pipe wells located behind the landfill." The pure methane is separated from other gases like carbon dioxide at an onsite facility. It is then distributed to local villages. Herman Cahyono is one of the happy recipients . He was using Liquid Petroleum Gas but says the landfill methane has slashed his energy costs.. SOUNDBITE: HERMAN CAHYONO, VILLAGER, SAYING (Bahasa Indonesia): "I am using methane gas and only pay about 10,000 Rupiah every month. If I were using Liquid petroleum gas I would have to pay 180,000 Rupiah each month. It is very helpful, and the 10,000 Rupiah is merely the cost of monthly maintenance fees." Lanto says the next step is to increase the system's capacity to produce electricity, enough he says, to eventually support the entire community, while taking even more methane out of the air.