Duke University has developed the OptimaBIOGAS tool to model the opportunities for and costs of developing, transporting, and generating usable energy from a variety of biogas sources. In this analysis, the tool is used to clarify the options for and costs of sourcing biogas from landfills within North Carolina. The study found that biogas production is possible throughout many existing landfills in the state, but the economic viability of producing biogas at these locations depends on the cost of collecting and conditioning the gas and either using it to produce electric power onsite or transporting it into the existing natural gas pipeline network. In most cases, both the pipeline injection and electricity generation scenario are more costly than conventional sources in the gas and electricity markets; therefore some price premium would need to be paid to make them profitable. The state’s Renewable Energy and Efficiency Portfolio Standard might offer renewable energy credit payments to help these projects compete. However, biogas buyers may need to pay an additional “green energy” price premium to cover the higher costs of generation.
Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions