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Google to Buy Carbon Offsets from Landfill Gas-to-Energy Project

Google will purchase carbon credits generated by a landfill gas-to-energy project in Berkeley County, S.C., through 2013 as part of its commitment to become a carbon neutral company. The Berkeley Green Power Project will create an estimated 200,000 to 300,000 metric tons of carbon offsets, comparable to the emissions from the electricity consumed by approximately 30,000 to 45,000 U.S. households in a year, according to Santee Cooper, South Carolina’s state-owned electric and water utility.

The joint effort by Berkeley County Water & Sanitation (BCWS), Blue Source, Google and Santee Cooper will convert biogas (decomposing waste) into electricity, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions generated by the county landfill.

BCWS owns and operates approximately 60 landfill-gas extraction wells at its county landfill. Starting this fall, the methane captured in these wells will be piped to Santee Cooper’s new Berkeley Green Power Generating Station. The gas will generate 3 megawatts of electricity, which is enough to power 1,500 average-sized homes in the Southeast.

BCWS also is flaring the methane, which also reduces the impact of the methane on the climate.

Matt Dunne, Google’s U.S. community affairs manager told the Charleston City Paper that the flaring off or burning methane significantly reduces the amount of carbon the gas ultimately emits.

Blue Source will quantify and market the emission reductions in the form of voluntary carbon credits. The company plans to register the third-party verified credits created by the project on the Climate Action Reserve’s public registry

The project is said to be the first of its kind to be implemented along South Carolina’s coast. The credits Google purchases will be retired and not allowed to be further sold or traded.

Other companies such as Anheuser-Busch and Waste Management as well as college campuses including the University of New Hampshire are using landfill biogas as an alternative fuel source.

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