Toyota began discussing the methane-fueled generator with the landfill owner in 2010. Last year, they officially announced the plan and started construction. After burning the gas, an underground line takes the electricity around 6.5 miles from the dump to the factory where it helps build vehicles like the Camry and Avalon hybrids. If there's need in the future, the automaker can expand the system to up to 10 megawatts an hour.
The methane generator feeds into Toyota's plan to eliminate carbon dioxide emissions from its factories by 2050. The company wants to switch to hydrogen-based production at some point in that timeframe. "The landfill gas generator represents the kind of thinking that our company is asking us to do to reduce our carbon footprint over the next 35 years," Kevin Butt, Toyota's general manager for environment strategies, said in the landfill announcement.
The Japanese automaker isn't alone in using methane from garbage dumps to power factories. BMW has a similar system at its Spartanburg, SC, plant, and General Motors uses one at the Orion Assembly Plant. The video above provides a little more info on Toyota's solution.
Toyota's Georgetown Plant Contributes to Global Environmental Goal
Landfill Gas Generator to Produce One Million Watts for Vehicle Production
November 16, 2015
GEORGETOWN, Ky. (Nov. 16, 2015) – Toyota is working to help everyone breathe a little easier.
The company recently announced its intent to virtually eliminate CO2 emissions from its factories and vehicles, and it's about to flip the switch on a very tangible example of this effort. Toyota's Georgetown, Ky., manufacturing plant will begin generating electricity from methane, a byproduct of trash decomposition at the nearby Central Kentucky Landfill on Nov. 23, 2015.
"We will generate one megawatt (1 million watts) per hour at the site," said Toyota's environmental strategies manager Dave Absher. "That's enough annual energy generation to produce approximately 10,000 vehicles. The system can eventually be scaled up to 10 megawatts per hour."
Toyota's global headquarters recently announced a very aggressive goal of largely eliminating CO2 emissions from its vehicles and manufacturing plants by 2050. The launch of the Mirai hydrogen fuel cell vehicle this year; making its fuel cell patents available to other automakers; and developing manufacturing technologies that use hydrogen as a power source are specific initiatives mentioned within the plan. Alternative energy sources such as wind, solar, and locally produced renewable energy also will be required to achieve the goal.
"The landfill gas generator represents the kind of thinking that our company is asking us to do to reduce our carbon footprint over the next 35 years," said Kevin Butt, Toyota's general manager for environment strategies. "It's a small step, but a significant one. These types of changes to our manufacturing operations coupled with other global initiatives will help us reach this very aggressive goal."
The project is a collaboration between Toyota's Georgetown manufacturing plant and the Central Kentucky Landfill owned and operated by Waste Services of the Bluegrass. Landfills are required to monitor methane levels and report these levels to the EPA. Capturing and burning the methane has been determined by the EPA to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Toyota Georgetown's project began in 2010 when the two companies met to discuss the potential. Last fall, Waste Services began installing a methane collection system and Toyota began installing the generator at the site. An underground electric transmission line runs from the landfill approximately 6.5 miles to deliver the electricity to the plant.
"This project was a true collaboration between the two companies," said Absher. "There was also a tremendous amount of support from the local community, public utilities and elected officials to get the project off the ground."
More information about Toyota's environmental initiatives is available in the North American Environmental Report http://www.toyota.com/usa/environmentreport2015/ which was released this week.
About Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc.
Toyota's largest plant in North America, Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc. (TMMK) started production in May 1988. The Georgetown, Ky. plant employs approximately 6,600 full time team members and represents a $6 billion investment. TMMK currently produces the Camry, Camry Hybrid, Avalon, Avalon Hybrid and Venza as well as four-cylinder and V-6 engines and other engine components. Annual capacity is 500,000 vehicles and 600,000 engines. Since 1987, TMMK has donated more than $44 million to non-profit organizations throughout Kentucky. www.toyotageorgetown.com