Cape Town dump produces first gas‚ with electricity in the pipeline

02 March 2018 - 16:08
By Aron Hyman
Image: iStock

Cape Town took the first steps on Friday towards using a stinky eyesore to create clean energy.

Xanthea Limberg‚ the mayoral committee member for water‚ waste and energy‚ launched a gas extraction and flaring facility at Coastal Park landfill in Muizenberg which will destroy methane produced by the landfill by burning it at 1‚000ºC.

In as little as 18 months the plant is expected to add a methane-powered generator which will produce 1MW of power — enough to run the waste water treatment facility in nearby Pelican Park.

According to project manager Alberto Borello‚ from Fountain Green Energy‚ landfills are responsible for 4% of South Africa’s greenhouse gas emissions‚ mostly in the form of methane.

More than half the gas produced by rotting waste at Coastal Park is methane‚ while 40% is carbon dioxide.

The new project consists of 49 wells‚ each with a perforated pipe sunk about 20 metres into the garbage to suck out the gases. In the lifetime of the operation‚ Borello said 525‚000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions would be avoided.

The rate of extraction is expected to reach 1‚000m³ per hour‚ enough to power 128 landfill trucks if they ran on methane.

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Limberg said the production of electricity would not only help the city to save money but reduce its carbon emissions and accumulate UN carbon credits.

“This kind of intervention is critical for moving Cape Town a step closer to being a sustainable city. Global warming is one of the key factors that drives climate variability – and ultimately climate change – the effects of which we are already feeling acutely in the Western Cape‚” said Limberg.

“The destruction of this greenhouse gas‚ which is a major contributor to global warming‚ assists not only the city but contributes to national climate change mitigation goals.”

Similar projects are taking place at the city’s other two landfill sites in Vissershok and Bellville South.

Borello said the gas extraction would also reduce the size of the landfill heap‚ extending the site’s life.