Toyota recently announced its goal to virtually eliminate CO2 emissions from its factories and vehicles. As part of that goal,on November 23rd the company’s Georgetown, Kentucky, manufacturing plant will begin generating electricity from methane, a byproduct of trash decomposition at the nearby Central Kentucky Landfill. “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 generator 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 will also 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 thirty five years,” said Toyota’s general manager for environment strategies, Kevin Butt. “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 collaboration between the two companies,” said Todd Skaggs, CEO of Waste Services of the Bluegrass. “We are very happy to work with Toyota and the vision Toyota has set forth. There was a tremendous amount of support from the local community, public utilities and elected officials to get the project off the ground. This landmark project gives all of us another reason to be Kentucky Proud.”
Here is a video of a robotic weld line in the body shop at Toyota’s Georgetown, Kentucky manufacturing plant.
ST Staff Writers
This post was prepared by Solar Thermal Magazine staff.