A new partnership between UK renewable energy business ENER-G and the Municipality of Aguascalientes has seen the opening of Mexico’s first landfill gas capture facility at San Nicolás landfill.

ENER-G Natural Power and its sister company Biogas Technology are generating clean electrical energy from biogas for use by Nissan at its manufacturing site in Aguascalientes. The power generated is being sold over a long term power purchase agreement with the car maker.

ENER-G’s renewable energy project will help Mexico deliver on its bold new Climate Change Act, which will commit Mexico to cutting its carbon dioxide emissions by 30% by 2020, and by 50% below current levels by 2050, and to generate 35% of electricity from renewable sources by 2024.

Nissan is the first automotive plant in Mexico to use electricity from biogas, and it is the first project of its kind for any Nissan manufacturing plant in the world.

The Nissan production site, which makes March, Versa and Sentra cars, receives 2.475MW of clean energy – sufficient to produce 37,000 vehicles per year.

The £4.4m investment by the ENER-G group will reduce carbon dioxide emissions at the landfill site by approximately 90,000 tonnes per year. This is equivalent to the environmental benefit of 7,045 hectares (17,409 acres) of pine forest.

The 42 hectare (104 acre) landfill site, which is owned by the Municipality of Aquascalientes, receives household, commercial and industrial waste. A total of 3.9 million tonnes of waste is currently deposited at the site, which has been in operation for ten years.

The two phase biogas generation project started in 2006 when ENER-G group company Biogas Technology was appointed by the Municipality of Aquascalientes to collect and destroy the biogas emissions by flaring. These emissions comprise mainly methane gas, a harmful greenhouse gas, which is 21 times more damaging to the environment than carbon dioxide.

This was the first project in Mexico to be registered with the United Nations under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), part of the Kyoto Protocol. Under CDM, certified emission reduction credits are provided for each tonne of carbon dioxide saved, which can then be traded internationally to offset emissions by large polluters in the developed world. So far, Biogas Technology has delivered 200,000 tonnes of carbon reduction benefits, equivalent to the environmental benefit of 15,656 hectares (38,686 acres) of pine forest. This has generated significant economic benefits for the Municipality of Aguascalientes.

The second phase of the project involved ENER-G Natural Power installing two 1.6MW biogas generators as part of a six month build programme. This has involved arranging the sale of electricity to Nissan Mexicana and arranging export to the site over a distance of approximately 20km. The clean electricity is transported via overhead lines through a supply contract with the Federal Commission of Electricity.

Due to the effect of ‘thin’ air at the high altitude of the San Nicholas site, ENER-G Natural Power was required to install an oversized 3.2MW system to achieve the desired de-rated capacity of 2.5MW electrical capacity. The biogas supply is expected to last for at least 15 years.

Hugh Richmond, managing director of ENER-G Natural Power, said, “This ambitious project is converting damaging greenhouse gases into renewable power that is benefiting Mexico’s successful car industry, providing valuable income for the Municipality of Aquascalientes, and benefiting the environment. We are very proud to work with our sister company Biogas Technology to invest in Mexico’s next generation renewable technology and to help the government to deliver on legally binding targets to reduce carbon dioxide emissions through its ambitious new Climate Change Act . We have ambitions to build more of these plants in Mexico to match the strong desire and commitment by the Mexico government for investment in renewables.”

Ian Gadsby, managing director of Biogas Technology, added, “Over the past six years, we have reduced carbon emissions from the San Nicholas site by more than 200,000 tonnes, helping to improve the city’s environmental performance and generate an income for the city through the CDM. Working with our sister company ENER-G Natural Power, we continue to control and reduce emissions, not only by destruction of the methane gas, but also in producing green electricity which displaces electricity produced by fossil fuelled power stations.”

Armando Avila, vice president of manufacturing of Nissan Mexicana, said, “At Nissan we are proud to work with the city of Aguascalientes and ENER-G Natural Power to improve the environment. This project allows us four years to advance the environmental challenges of our program Nissan Green Program 2016 to reduce CO2 emissions.”