C40 Cities Mayors Summit

Joburg cleans up its act with waste landfill gas to electricity

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Climate change is a reality. Johannesburg has experienced flooding, heat waves, hailstorms and other extreme weather conditions.  Environmental pollution besides its other impacts produces green house gases, which are considered to be the major cause influencing in climate change.   

As a result, the City of Johannesburg (CoJ) is ensuring that the environmental pollution impacts stemming from waste are averted, and that green house gas emissions are reduced. The City’s integrated waste management operation – incorporates waste separation at source, garden dumping sites and composting plants. In addition, Joburg has successfully implemented two landfill gas-to-energy projects. At the Robinson Deep landfill site and the Marie Louise project, landfill gas is extracted, combusted and flared as carbon dioxide, to generate electricity. Soon, a total of 19MW of electricity will be generated from 5 landfill sites, which could be used by about 12500 middle-income households. 

As Joburg confirmed its readiness to host the prestigious C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group Mayors Summit on 4 to 6 February 2014, the Executive Mayor of Joburg, Clr Mpho Parks Tau said, Pikitup’s waste separation at source project, encourages residents to separate their waste; paper goes into orange bags and recyclables like bottles and cans in colourless bags. To date 264 889 households are participating in the waste separation at source project. There are plans to rollout this project to other areas too.

The City has created Garden Dumping Sites for the disposal of light garden waste, where it’s chipped into manageable sizes and transported to a composting plant. The composting plant processes about 150,000 tonnes of green waste per year into soil-enhancing compost. This compost is then sold to the agricultural sector and to city homeowners for suburban gardens.

Mayor Tau says, “Garden sites divert green waste from being disposed at the landfill sites, as they take up a lot of airspace and contribute a lot in terms of methane generation.”

The City is currently disposing about 1.6 million tonnes of waste in the four operational landfill sites. As a result the City is spending much on transportation costs, which also contributes to air pollution and Green House Gas emmissions from the trucks. 

Landfill gas is mainly made up of methane, carbon dioxide and oxygen, of which methane is the most harmful on the ozone layer.  The landfill gas-to-energy projects minimise environmental damaged by reducing methane emissions. Methane is sucked through the combination of vertical and horizontal pipes to the flare system where it’s burnt and released as carbon dioxide which is less harmful than methane gas. 

The Robinson Deep landfill was completed in May 2011. 68 gas wells were installed and will be increased during the second phase of the project. It has produced 137,888 Certified Emission Reductions (CER’s) and destructed 18,288,457Nm3 of landfill gas, which would have otherwise been released into the atmosphere.

Construction of the Marie Louise project commenced in February 2012 with 28 wells being installed.

To date, a total 19,042 CER’s were amassed and 3,157,656Nm3 of landfill gas was destructed since May 2012. Eventually a total of 19MW of electricity will be generated at five landfill sites, which could be used by about 12,500 middle-income households. 

Construction for the three remaining sites (Goudkoppies, Ennerdale and Linbro Park) will commence shortly.

In October 2013, the Department of Energy approved the project and agreed to sign a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Eskom for 18MW contribution as part of the Independent Power Producers programme.  The project was registered with United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in December 2012 wherein it can start selling carbon credits under Kyoto Protocol, which were accrued from date of commissioning of the sites.

“The City is investigating further options in partnership with the private sector and by collaborating with C40 cities to resolve the challenges. Joburgers are instrumental in helping the City to manage its waste.  The choices we collectively make today will determine the future of our city, country and planet, “concludes Mayor Tau.

According to the Institute of Waste Management of Southern Africa, recycling is key to reduce the amount of waste that lands up on our landfill sites.  When we start to recycle we reduce the amount of waste going to our landfill site thus prolonging the lifespan of our landfill sites.  

Tips on reducing waste at home:

• Pay attention to packaging

• Buy products that are packaged minimally

• Buy larger packages when possible

• Buy concentrated products if you can

• Do you really need the new article that you buy?

• Use reusable shopping bags.

• Purchase reusable products

• Buy rechargeable batteries.

• Recycle as much as you can.

• Use energy saving bulbs

• Buy quality products.

• Sell or donate articles that you don’t need anymore

• Purchase items that are made from recycled products

• Make compost out of your green waste

For further information on C40 Cities Mayors Summit, please visit http://c40summitjohannesburg.org

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