Community, Council

Smart heating solution to smelly problem

Mechanical compliance coordinator Duncan Jarvie oversees the heating systems at both Wairau and Nelson Hospitals. Photo: File.

Wairau Hospital water heaters could use gas generated from landfill to help cut carbon emissions.

Marlborough District Council are looking at ways to help slash greenhouse gases from Bluegums landfill on Taylor Pass Road.

While methane is currently burnt off, it could help power the hospital boilers instead.

An independent study showed using the gas would help the hospital reduce its carbon emissions.

Council solid waste manager Alec McNeil says council and Nelson Marlborough District Health Board and were currently discussing its findings.

The move comes as the DHB look at replacing Wairau Hospital’s aging boilers.

“They [the Wairau Hospital] are at a crucial capital replacement junction.

“They know the current system has maybe 18 to 24 months of life left. But once they make a replacement, that’s them locked in for 10, 20 years,” Alec says.

The hospital averaged about 1000 tonnes of coal burnt a year over the last eight years.

Connecting the landfill and hospital sites would see council lay 4.1 kilometres of pipes, costing between $1m and $1.5m.

Once down, the system would cost $20,000 a year to manage.

The council would charge the hospital for the gas to help cover the cost of supplying it.

A charge rate had not yet been sized up, but the council was not looking for a “profit centre”.

Nelson Marlborough Health finance performance and facilities general manager Eric Sinclair says the board was considering a range of options to replace Wairau Hospital’s coal-fired boilers, including the council’s landfill gas option.

Landfill gas was already used to power a boiler at Nelson Hospital, which turned it into building heating and hot water.

“The collection and destruction of the landfill gas reduces the amount of more harmful gases from being released from the landfill into the atmosphere and the smell normally associated with landfill,” says Eric.

The landfill generated about 1.4 million cubic metres of methane a year and can provide enough gas for up to another 30 years, even if it closed tomorrow.

Bluegums Landfill is expected to take rubbish until 2054.

LDR - Local Democracy Reporting

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