The idea is to extract gas from waste generated from your trash, to produce electricity as an alternate source of energy to ease strain on the overburdened national grid.
The city anticipates that by 2016, around 19 megawatts of electricity will be produced – enough electricity to power 16 500 medium-sized houses, The Star reports. The project will become the biggest landfill gas-to-energy project in the country once completed.
A similar project being piloted at the Robinson Deep landfill in the south of Joburg has already shown good results, Pikitup GM for disposals David Harris said.
“We will install connectors to our infrastructure and within the next year or two we want to start generating power from this gas. Five operational landfill sites [Robinson Deep, Marie Louise, Linbro Park, Ennerdale, Goudkoppies and Witkoppies] will produce electricity for the city from converting gas,” he said.
The gas is currently being extracted and the toxic gasses burnt through a flare to minimise exposure to methane.
While methane gas is a handy alternative to conventional energy, energy analyst Roger Lilley says it hasn’t always been a popular choice given the significant costs involved in storing and distributing it.
“The gas in question is methane, which is commonly obtained from landfill sites when vegetables or any biodegradable waste degrade and it produces methane. But it must be stored properly and distributed, and there are considerable costs involved,” he told Business Day.
Further than a tool to help alleviate the power crisis, retrieving the methane gas from waste means harmful biogases aren’t being emitted into the environment – an initiative that could earn the city carbon credits on international markets.
Harris said there was enough gas in reserve to run the project for the next 15-20 years, but that gas production rates could vary depending on influencing factors including age and composition of waste, the temperature and moisture content of each site.
Sources: The Star, Business Day