City making headway in project to turn waste into power

The City of Cape Town Waste to Energy Project at the Coastal Park landfill. | Supplied

The City of Cape Town Waste to Energy Project at the Coastal Park landfill. | Supplied

Published Feb 29, 2024


The City’s urban waste and energy directorate says it one step closer to turning the metro’s waste into energy.

Mayco member for urban waste Grant Twigg shared the department’s progress on its Waste to Energy Project following a visit to the Coastal Park landfill site on Tuesday.

The project is an initiative by the City to produce electricity from the combustion of landfill gas, primarily made up of methane produced when organic matter such as food scraps breaks down in the oxygen-depleted environment of the landfill.

To convert the gas into electricity, perforated wells will be dug into the landfill site to extract and channel gas as fuel to produce electricity in specially designed engines. Before the gas engines can be put into operation, a specialised thermal mass flow meter must be installed.

Regulatory processes must be followed to permit the connection of the engines to the electricity grid.

However, to progress to the next stage, the City was awaiting delivery of critical spares for the gas engines.

The estimated start date for electricity production was in the second half of the year, should no complications arise, the City said.

“As we witness the growing impacts of climate change, we must take proactive steps to mitigate its effects.

“Visiting the Coastal Park landfill and witnessing the progress in converting landfill gas into electricity reaffirms our commitment to sustainable practices,” said Twigg.

“By harnessing renewable energy from waste, we not only reduce harmful emissions but also move closer to a greener, more resilient future for Cape Town,” he said.

“I am proud that the City is leading by example, taking action to combat climate change head-on.”

When working at full capacity, the project was expected to produce nough electricity to power operations and equipment at the landfill site, including the new recycling facility that was under construction.

“Unfortunately, the electricity produced will not be sufficient to offset load shedding on its own.

“However, it will assist in conjunction with other efforts being made in the Energy Directorate,” Twigg said.

Energy mayco member Beverley van Reenen said: “The City is initiating new generation assets connected to the distribution grid – embedded generation – and to the Eskom transmission or distribution grids. This is to harness the energy resources in the municipal boundary and neighbouring regions.

“This includes ground-mounted, rooftop and floating solar and waste-toenergy projects such as this one, and the exploration of gas, wind, biosolids and sludge beneficiation, and small hydropower turbines.”

Meanwhile, while the process of putting the gas engines into operation was under way, the City said it was using a flaring system at the endpoint of the well system to destroy landfill gas before it entered the atmosphere.