... Renewable Energy Buildout: Chesapeake Utilities Captures Landfill Gas

Renewable Energy Buildout: Chesapeake Utilities Develops Pipeline to Capture Landfill Methane

Aspire Energy Ditch Witch drill rig

A project to capture gas emitted from a landfill in northwestern Ohio is helping to reduce emissions from flaring. The captured gas will then be processed to be used by utility customers and at compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling stations.

Chesapeake Utilities’ subsidiary Aspire Energy of Ohio partnered with OPAL Fuels LLC and Rumpke Waste & Recycling on the Noble Road Landfill RNG Pipeline. Aspire constructed a 33.1-mile pipeline, which was completed in September 2021 and transports renewable natural gas (RNG) from Shiloh, Ohio, in Richland County, to Jeromesville, Ohio, in Ashland County.

Aspire Energy is an unregulated natural gas infrastructure company with more than 2,700 miles of pipeline systems throughout Ohio. The company provides natural gas supplies to various local gas cooperatives and local distribution systems, reaching about 21,000 end-use customers.

The project was developed to transport RNG generated from Rumpke’s Noble Road Landfill in Shiloh to Aspire Energy’s pipeline system, displacing conventionally produced natural gas. In conjunction with this expansion, Aspire Energy also upgraded an existing compressor station to 500 hp and installed two new metering and regulation sites.

/*** Advertisement ***/
Noble Road Facility

Chesapeake Utilities invested $7.3 million in the project, which was constructed in a little more than six months, starting in April 2021.

The project allows Rumpke Waste & Recycling, one of the largest privately owned residential and commercial waste and recycling firms in the United States, to extract and capture waste methane from the Noble Road Landfill. OPAL Fuels, an emerging leader in the production and distribution of RNG, then purifies the biogas to pipeline quality standards through its new, state-of-the-art facility, removing carbon dioxide and other components from the methane.

In addition to supplying Aspire Energy’s customers, the RNG also will be dispensed into fueling stations built and operated by OPAL Fuels. The Noble Road project will capture and transport quantities of RNG equivalent to 6.9 million gasoline gallon equivalents (GGE) per year, enough to fuel 725 biofuel trucks.

The Noble Road Landfill RNG Pipeline project entered the development stage in 2018, according to Ben Harvey, manager for construction services for Chesapeake Utilities, whose territory encompasses Ohio and Delaware.

“The project developed slowly at the start, but it sped up when we partnered with OPAL,” Harvey says. “OPAL already had projects in Ohio, with landfills under contract to produce and collect gas instead of flaring. That’s one of the huge benefits of the project, not flaring the gas.”

Prior to this project being built, the Noble Road Landfill flared methane on a constant basis.
“When you have a flare running 24/7, you’re just burning money,” Harvey says. “Now, we can use that methane and reduce emissions.”

Noble Road landfill RNG project

Building the Pipeline

Through its subsidiary, Chesapeake Utilities contracted with Precision Pipeline Services, Energy Services Corp. and Buckeye Pipeline Construction to build the Noble Road Landfill RNG Pipeline. The project consisted of 50 percent each of 6- and 8-in. diameter high-density polyethylene (HDPE) pipe.
The project required eight permits, from the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), Ashland County, Richland County, Butler Township, Jackson Township, Orange Township, Ashland Railway and an Ohio EPA Air Permit.

“It was great working with them,” Harvey says. “There was no gas main distribution system in their area, and the area representatives saw the value in being able to offer their customers and residents a tie-in. We ended up going public right-of-way the whole way. We had one railroad crossing, and the Ashland Railway Co. was tremendous to work with. We also had a highway crossing with I-71. Those two aspects were the hardest challenges of the project. Everything else was public road right-of-way. Other than the fact that we encountered a little bit of rock, it was a very smooth-running project.”

Harvey adds that the contractors worked with project coordinators throughout, and there were no safety incidents during construction.

Precision Pipeline and Energy Services were the two main contractors, while Buckeye Pipeline conducted the railroad and I-71 crossings.

The pipeline was installed strictly by horizontal directional drilling (HDD), says Matthew Upp, president of Precision Pipeline, based in Lancaster, Ohio. Precision completed 90,000 ft of drilling for the project, using primarily a Ditch Witch JT40 drilling rig. The contracting company had two HDD crews on site, as well as vacuum excavation crews, fusion crews and a CCTV camera crew.

“Aspire was great to work with,” Upp says. “From the pre-job planning stage including maps, permitting, existing utility prints, material requisition and site contacts, their team had everything ready to go so we could hit the ground running. During the project construction Aspire had their representatives on site to inspect and assist with any questions or changes that arose during the project. When it came time to test, Aspire personnel provided us with their pigging and testing procedures ahead of time so Precision was able to have the proper items on the project and ready to go. Ben Harvey and his team were very organized and professional from project start to finish allowing Precision to focus on safely installing the new pipeline in a timely manner.”

While Upp says that other Precision Pipeline customers are looking at RNG projects, this was the first one his company has been involved in constructing.

“We were excited to partner with Aspire on this RNG project for many reasons,” Upp says. “These projects will supplement our current domestic energy production, improve our local air quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions globally, all of which are extremely relevant to our current climate and economic status.”

Upp hopes to see more of these types of projects being developed in the future.
“We’ve got to do something to supplement our energy production,” he says. “With diesel fuel around $6 a gallon, there’s got to be a solution. Hopefully, it’s local. We have quoted a couple of other RNG projects, and we’re starting to see more activity.”

Aspire Energy camera truck

Processing RNG

OPAL Fuels specializes in capturing methane emissions at the source and recycles the trapped energy into a commercially viable, low-cost alternative to diesel fuel. The company also develops and constructs RNG fueling stations to serve heavy-duty truck fleets.

For the Noble Road project, the RNG is created by capturing and converting fugitive methane emissions from landfill gas or livestock waste and removing carbon dioxide and other components to produce pipeline quality renewable natural gas, according to Adam Comora, co-CEO of OPAL Fuels.

“The resulting RNG can be transported via pipeline and ultimately dispensed at fueling stations for renewable natural gas-powered heavy-duty trucks, can be sold to other natural gas users such as utilities or can be converted to green hydrogen,” he adds.

In addition to producing RNG, the project is expected to reduce the landfill’s methane emissions by approximately 20,000 tons per year, says Comora, adding that methane is 28 to 36 times more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2) at trapping heat in the atmosphere over a 100-year period.

“Additionally, the project will help reduce CO2 emissions by more than 48,000 tons per year,” he says. “The expected annual emissions reduction from this project is equivalent to CO2 emissions from over 54 million gallons of gasoline, approximately 1.1 million barrels of oil consumed or carbon sequestered by more than 570,000 acres of U.S. forests in one year.”

Comora calls the Noble Road Landfill RNG a “win-win-win scenario” for the energy industry.
“This project demonstrates the critical role that RNG can play in creating new revenue streams for upstream partners like landfill operators and dairies,” he says, “and to drive cost savings for the heavy-duty trucking sector, and to cut greenhouse gas emissions using a non-fossil fuel.”

Interest in and support for landfill RNG projects is growing in the United States, Comora says, citing the positive impacts on the environment.

“Reducing methane emissions is one of the most immediate and impactful steps to slow climate change,” he says. “According to the White House’s new U.S. Methane Emissions Reduction Action Plan, in the U.S. methane accounts for approximately 10 percent of human-caused or anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.”

The Noble Road pipeline was Chesapeake Utilities’ first investment in RNG, and Harvey says the company is pursuing a number of potential projects aimed at reducing emissions and developing lower-carbon sources of energy across its nine-state service territory.

“Noble Road was a test project,” he says. “Once we saw the success of the project, more RNG projects entered the business development phase.”

Chesapeake Utilities is headquartered in Dover, Delaware, and owns, operates and develops natural gas and propane infrastructure assets serving customers in Delaware, Florida, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Ohio. Harvey says the company’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) group is looking at multiple ways to increase its sustainable business, including through additional RNG projects, as well as hydrogen, combined heat and power (CHP), and other initiatives.

Bradley Kramer is managing editor of North American Energy Pipelines. Contact him at bkramer@benjaminmedia.com.


Comments are closed here.