PIKITUP SETS SOLID WASTE-TO-ENERGY STANDARD
PIKITUP, the Waste Management Company of the City of Johannesburg, is moving full steam ahead with activities in using landfill waste for renewable electricity generation, liquefied gas and energy whilst addressing the city’s waste disposal crisis.
In the last few months, Pikitup Managing Director Lungile Dhlamini has presided over a forward-looking strategy for improved efficiencies by enhancing private sector collaborations for improved solid waste collection and disposal services across the city.
This has progressively led to the five Johannesburg landfill sites being able to generate up to 13 Mega Watts of electricity, which could meet the energy needs of about 13 000 to 20 000 middle-income households.
In a city that generates more than two million tonnes of solid waste a year, in the backdrop of dwindling landfill airspace that is left with a lifespan of less than 6 years, Pikitup’s strategy unlocks a plethora of opportunities in ongoing efforts to provide adequate, safe and sustainable waste management.
Landfill gases, comprising 50% methane, 42% carbon dioxide, nitrogen and oxygen compounds, are released into the atmosphere when bacteria decomposes waste in the landfills.
Pikitup processes capture the methane (which is the most harmful to the environment) for renewable generation of electricity.
Peak production occurs a year after material has been deposited in the landfill, and has a generation lifespan of 20 years.
Dhlamini says a multi-million rand solid waste-to-energy plant that will generate electricity and liquefied gas, will soon be built in Johannesburg.
The plant will also generate organic fertiliser to spur growth in agriculture, contribute to food security, job creation, public health and meet the national, provincial and the local government goals of reducing waste to landfill, whilst decreasing the carbon footprint.
Pikitup has set itself a five year target to deliver the project. Dhlamini explains that they will not use funds from the City, but will go out to the open market for equity funding and private, public partnerships.
“The reason for taking this route is that the City would not have the required capital resources nor the technical expertise, human skills or risk appetite to sponsor such a mega project.
“The private sector partners would operate the plant for a number of years whilst recouping their investment, training Pikitup staff to take over after the specified period, which could be 25 years,” Dhlamini says.
It is envisaged that the plant will use 500 000 tons of waste annually to generate about 24 megawatt of electrical energy. That could supply close to 60 000 households with power supply for basic use such as lights, cooking, geyser and other electrical appliances.
Dhlamini estimates that the plant could cost R1.2 billion to build.
Meanwhile, Pikitup’s ongoing solid waste-to-energy projects is a landmark achievement for the City of Johannesburg being the first independent power procurement project using landfill gas to be implemented in South Africa.
Gas-to-energy projects have been implemented at the Marie Louise and Robinson Deep landfill sites.
The Department of Energy has already approved the project and the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Eskom for a 13 MW contribution as part of the Independent Power Producers programme has been signed.
It was also registered with the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in December 2012; to sell carbon credits under the Kyoto Protocol. Meanwhile, Pikitup’s innovations are in line with South Africa’s development agenda for municipalities to be more creative and explore the use of renewable energy diversifying their revenue stream.