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Biogas fuel in Iceland

Iceland has used biological methane (biogas) as fuel for transport for more than a decade. The methane is collected from a landfill (waste yard) close to the capital, Reykjavik.

A public company, Sorpa, coordinates the solid waste disposal from Reykjavík and six other adjacent municipalities. Sorpa owns and operates the Álfsnes Landfill, serving the greater Reykjavik area. This organic waste in this landfill produces a substantial volume of methane.

In 1999 Sorpa founded a subsidiary, Metan Ltd. (metan means methane in Icelandic), whose purpose is to produce and market energy in the form of electricity, raw gas, landfill gas and upgraded methane.  They are also in the business of knowledge collection within the field of biogas and landfill gas utilization. In addition to Sorpa, Metan Ltd. has two other shareholders. They are the public energy firm Orkuveita Reykjavíkur (Reykjavik Energy) and the private oil importer and distributor N1 Ltd.

The main task of Metan has been the development and marketing of alternative fuel from waste landfills in the form of methane. For years even before starting fuel production, Sorpa channeled the methane gas to a burning device to render it less toxic and limits its greenhouse gas effects.

Metan Ltd. operates a gas refinery and production plant at the Álfsnes Landfill where the methane is treated by a cleaning process. The upgraded methane product is then used as fuel for vehicles. Finally, any gas not used for upgrading to methane fuel is funneled to a generator for producing electricity.

The methane power plant opened in 2003. This was the first time methane gas from a landfill site was used to generate electricity in Iceland. Metan Ltd. is a member of the Natural and Bio Gas Vehicle Association of Europe (NGVA Europe).

You can read more about Iceland’s methane- and renewable fuel industry in our special section about green fuel.