Toyota will soon be manufacturing cars with “green” gas. The company announced its efforts to nearly eliminate all CO2 emissions from its factories and vehicles and will achieve this, in part, with electricity produced from methane. The “green” gas, also known in some instances as renewable natural gas, is a byproduct of trash decomposition from 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 system can eventually be scaled up to 10 megawatts per hour.”
Toyota has announced aggressive global emission reduction goals for all of its production plants as well as for the cars they produce. This year the company launched the Mirai hydrogen fuel cell vehicle and has made the technology available for use by other automakers. In addition, they are developing manufacturing technologies that also use hydrogen as a power source within their plants. The company has also integrated other renewable energy power sources including wind, solar and locally produced renewable energy. Toyota hopes to reach its zero emissions goal by 2050.
“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. 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,” Absher added. “There was also a tremendous amount of support from the local community, public utilities and elected officials to get the project off the ground.”