Waste management activities, especially waste disposal by landfill, are an often overlooked contributor to GHG emissions. The city needed to develop a plan that would address waste/water sector GHG emissions but not drain its resources, hence adopting a partnership structure for private sector capital investment.
The city also needed to tackle the electricity regulatory framework in South Africa, which was unsupportive of independent power producers. ESJ engaged with South Africa’s national government for 5 years to change the legislation on inclusion of independent power producers in the electricity sector, finally achieving government adoption of the Renewable Electricity Independent Power Procurement Program.
Johannesburg’s Northern Wastewater Treatment plant, the largest in the city, has implemented a biogas to energy project, which is currently operational and produces 1.1MW of energy, equivalent to 12% of the plant's operation energy needs. Thus far, the project has resulted in 173,908 carbon credits.
In another strand of the programme, plans are being developed to implement biodigestors at the city’s five landfill sites. These will harness biogas from landfill waste to be used to fuel Johannesburg’s bus fleet.
The five landfill gas generation plants will open between 2016 and 2018 and will produce a combined 13MW of renewable energy, enough to power around 24,000 homes. ENER-G, a partner of the program, estimates that this will result in CO2e emissions savings of over 500,000 metric tonnes of CO2e per year.
Less dependency on external energy providers will provide economic co-benefits to the project. A signed 20-year deal with electricity provider Eskom will ensure sale of generated energy, wider distribution in the energy network and long term economic sustainability of the project.