The City of Johannesburg commissioned its first landfill gas-to-energy project, with a further four sites to follow over the next 12 months.
Through the Infrastructure and Services Department (ISD), Johannesburg initiated the landfill gas-to-energy Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) project in 2007.
The project would make use of five of the city’s landfill sites including Marie Louise, Robinson Deep, Ennerdale, Linbro Park and Goudkoppies landfills.
The Robinson Deep landfill gas-to-energy project, which would be fully operational by June, was the first to be completed, and would be followed by the commissioning of Marie Louise landfill in August, and the rest by June 2012.
It was expected that the renewable energy generated would be fed into the municipal grid, thus off-setting largely coal-derived electricity.
“When completed this will be the biggest landfill gas-to-energy project in South-Africa,” said Johannesburg ISD representative Palesa Mathibeli.
An estimated 19 MW of power would be generated from the project, comparable to electricity usage by about 12 500 middle-income households.
EnerG Systems Joburg Consortium was appointed in 2007 to plan, design and implement the landfill gas-to-energy project on behalf of the city. Mathibeli explained that during the project initiation phase, the main intention was to appoint a private service provider through a long-term contract to invest in the development, implementation and operation of the project, to minimise the substantial initial capital investment by the city.
Thus Mathabeli said that the city entered into a long-term contract of 20 years to enable EnerG Systems to execute the project at no cost to the city.
Access to funding for CDM projects was said to be difficult to obtain because the projects are a mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol, which currently does not extend beyond 2012. Thus there is uncertainty regarding sale of generated emission reductions post-2012.
Also, financial institutions view electricity sales from the landfill gas projects as being more bankable and require project developers to have a signed power purchase agreement prior to funding approval.
Despite funding challenges, Mathibeli said that Joburg’s landfill gas project was proceeding and the ISD, together with the service provider EnerG Systems, have agreed on alternative ways to implement and expedite the project.
The project would mitigate greenhouse gases emitted from the landfills, and would extract and eliminate harmful gases that are currently causing bad odours, affecting nearby communities surrounding the landfill sites.