Environmental Protection

BMW Invests $12 M in Methane Gas Power for Manufacturing Plant

BMW is investing another $12 million to expand the capacity and efficiency of its landfill methane "Gas-to-Energy" program at Spartanburg, S.C.

The new system, which is nearing completion, will include two new highly-efficient gas turbine generators capable of producing 11,000 kilowatts (kW) of electricity. These two new co-generation turbines will replace four older, less-efficient turbines. The new turbines have the capability to increase electrical output from 14 percent up to almost 30 percent of the plant's current electrical demand. While the new turbines double the overall electrical output using the same amount of methane gas, through electrical and hot water generation over 60 percent of the plant's total energy requirements continue to be provided by methane gas produced at the nearby landfill.

"BMW's landfill gas program has been a tremendous initiative for the plant," says Josef Kerscher, president of BMW Manufacturing. "Using methane gas to power our plant is one example of our focus on environmentally friendly production processes."

In addition to adding larger turbines and heat recovery boilers, BMW will integrate a new specialized treatment system to remove siloxanes from the methane gas (a compound common to landfill gas and potentially destructive to gas turbines). Two of the four original 1,200kW gas turbine engines will remain in place to serve as a back-up for the new system.

BMW's original landfill gas project was implemented in December 2002 and supported by Ameresco, Inc. the original project developer, and Waste Management Inc., operator of the Palmetto Landfill located in Wellford, S.C. The initial infrastructure allowed for collecting, cleaning, and compressing methane gas from the Palmetto Landfill near Spartanburg, transporting it through a 9.5-mile pipeline to the BMW plant, compressing and then using it to power four gas turbine generators.

To date the landfill gas project has saved BMW an annual average of $5 million in energy costs. With the addition of the new turbines, this project will return an additional average annual cost savings to BMW of up to $2 million and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 92,000 tons per year.

BMW Manufacturing Co. is a subsidiary of BMW AG in Munich, Germany and is the global producer of the BMW X5 Sports Activity Vehicle and X6 Sports Activity Coupe.

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