Cape Town’s first step in generating electricity from landfill gas

Cape Town has begun plans to disappear from Eskom’s network and away from power outages. It involves obtaining energy from independent energy producers (IPP), but the plan to use solar and wind energy for grid electricity has not been successful for everyone, including Andrew Kenny who is convinced that it will raise its electricity bills. Another task to reduce Eskom’s dependency is the mother city’s efforts to generate electricity from landfill gas. Member of the town council on waste management in urban areas, Officer Grant Twigg, BizNews said that the pilot project will soon power hundreds of houses and take an important step towards fulfilling Cape Town’s promise to move away from relying on Eskom. – Linda van Tilburg

Starting small with the Coast Park landfill and hoping to expand

Our mayor is trying his best to make sure we turn off Eskom and get our own city up and running. The project began in 2018 and is trying to capture the landfill gas and convert it into electricity. So, as you know, everything has gone to landfill; over the years it has formed gases and we are now translating it into energy. We’re putting everything together so we can start converting it to electricity.

We are starting at one landfill which is rather small. We also have a larger landfill and are going to move to that one as well. But this is just to see if there is a possibility of doing it, and that’s it. This is small and will not provide electricity for Cape Town; it looks very promising but to a very small extent. It is an experiment and a mistake and at the moment it is producing 2 MW of energy that we are going to put in the city grid which will go into getting rid of the Eskom system. This is one of those projects where we’re trying to see how we can get off the internet … What we have is underground infrastructure. We have pipes that go into the landfill, draw the gases and the good gas – if I may say so – is cleaned out. The good gas and the carbon gases are separated. The good gas goes into the system, where we can produce the good gas into electricity.

We are starting with Coastal Park and trying to see how much electricity we can produce for the city network and then move to our larger, larger landfill, which will take us to 2034. Then a new landfill will be inspected so we can start produce more electricity to enter the city network.

Hundreds of homes will be powered by landfill gas and carbon credits can be earned

I will not be able to tell you how the machine works and how it detects what is good or bad. The experts who worked on this created the system where the good gas enters the electricity system and the bad gases are burned, which gets carbon units. So we earn a carbon credit because we are not putting the bad gas into the environment; two flies are being struck at once.

We are trying to save space and create a cleaner environment. Although it is something small, the city is exploring all possibilities to create waste in electricity and this is a great achievement. While there is little at this stage, we are hopeful that this could be the forum going forward; to see what options there are with waste in general for generating electricity. This is the pilot. I am hopeful that my colleagues in the electricity field within the city will take action and see what else can be done. From our side, we intend to maximize waste of energy. I think they will take advantage of it further and we will see how we can help. Today it is the landfill gas, maybe tomorrow it will be general waste that could be producing electricity. It will produce electricity for hundreds of houses … We are taking advantage of something that is already happening elsewhere. We have seen some of the projects in other countries and can learn from them.

South Africa is late to the party in dealing with waste

It’s a big challenge. South Africa started only late with the amount of waste we send to our landfills. We’re always taken everything to the landfill. What we are looking at now is separating at the source, having a better way of separating our recyclables so that we do not send this to landfills and generate less waste. We have started sorting rubbish at home, educating schools and in our different communities, ensuring that recyclable material does not go to our landfills and generating work in the process.

Incorporating informal waste management into the city’s waste management system

At present, informal waste collectors are collecting waste and taking it to industry. What the city is doing, in terms of national law, is incorporating these collectors into our system. We can create space for them to work, to collect more waste from different communities through various projects to remove more recyclable materials.

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Cape Town’s first step in generating electricity from landfill gas

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