A Very Different Cogen – Getting the Green Light on Landfill Gas

In this Insight, Maryanne Mason discusses how the Burlington team’s solution to reduce the annual grid power usage of the region resulted in a multi-million dollar grant for our client’s facility.


The escalating costs of electricity in Ontario, Canada have led many large industrial facilities to consider alternative means to reduce their energy usage or to produce electricity at a reduced cost. Our client, who operates an automotive plant in Southern Ontario, required a cost-effective power solution for their propulsion facility. The facility currently produces engines and transmissions - a process that consumes a significant amount of electricity.

A typical gas-fired generator converts about 42% of its fuel into electricity, and the rest is released as heat - much of which can be recovered and used. Installations that recover and utilize the released heat are designated as Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plants, or more simply, as Cogeneration (Cogen) plants. 

Natural gas fired CHP plants are becoming more common; though only a few have access to a renewable fuel source. There are several generators installed in Ontario that use renewable fuels (digester gas or landfill gas from municipal waste), but these sites are isolated and often don’t have access to a heating load. However, our client’s facility has access to a nearby landfill gas site, and the plant's massive electricity consumption and seasonal heating loads would make it one of the few renewable fuel CHP plants in Ontario. As a result, our client’s Cogen plant was eligible for increased funding from the government of Ontario.

Feasibility Study – Basis for Grant Application

To improve the affordability of the proposed CHP facility, Ausenco Burlington conducted a feasibility study that formed the basis of a grant application for Ontario’s “Save on Energy” program. The grant is awarded based on the reduction of annual grid electricity usage.  The application must show the calculated power savings and the cost of the project to determine the available incentive that the program awards. The basis for the incentive of funding relies on the renewable nature of the landfill gas.

Our study reviewed numerous ways in which the waste heat could be used to save energy. We determined that absorption chillers, a process that uses heat to cool water, would provide a year-round usage for the waste heat and reduce the power usage of electrically driven chillers. Waste heat would be eliminated from the system using existing cooling towers.


The Ausenco-designed landfill gas cogeneration facility was projected to increase the total energy recovery rate efficiency from 49% to 88%. Following the review of the grant by an energy consultant, our client received approval for a substantial multimillion dollar grant! To measure and confirm the power savings, Ausenco proposed a verification plan. Additional incentives were applied based on natural gas and CO2 emission reductions which decreased the net capital cost of the project further. The lower capital cost reduced the payback period and helped the project move into the detailed design phase.

For more information on this project and our Cogen experience, contact Maryanne Mason at maryanne.mason@ausenco.com.