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Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  26 May 2009

POWER SUPPLY: Cape Town Looks At Gas-To-Electricity Plan


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The City of Cape Town is about to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Central Energy Fund which will enable it to produce income-creating electricity from the methane (CH4) gas generated in the City’s landfill sites.

Alderman Clive Justus, Mayoral Committee Member for Utility Services, said that a report on the project had recently been presented to the Utility Services Portfolio Committee. It gave an update on the project which seeks to substantially reduce the amount of methane gas presently escaping from our landfill sites which contributes to global warming. This will be done by way of a CDM (Cleaner Development Mechanism) carried out in terms of the Kyoto protocol, with low or little risk to the City.

The City has, as part of its waste management infrastructure, a number of large landfill sites, some closed and some still operating. These landfill sites all contribute passively to global warming as landfill gas is produced by the decomposition of the waste and currently escapes into the atmosphere.

As the responsible authority, the City is obliged to consider suitable mechanisms for the recovery of this gas and, where viable, to investigate its conversion into an alternative and renewable energy form.

It is envisaged that the methane gas could generate significant amounts of “green” electricity that can be fed into the national electricity network. This has become more lucrative because NERSA, the National Electricity Regulator, recently published very favourable tariffs for supplies which are generated by outside bodies and which are fed into the national electricity grid.  To encourage electricity production, NERSA has set the rate for electricity produced from a landfill gas source at 90 c/kwhr. This is considerably higher than the rates that the City would normally pay for the electricity it buys.

In addition to the revenue derived by the City from the sale of electricity, further income could be generated by selling carbon credits. These are units of carbon emissions that can be purchased or sold between participating members (i.e. countries, corporations etc.) in order to meet compliance with carbon emission allowance. The carbon credits are recognised and viable provided the project is registered as a Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) Climate Change Product and will remain so until at least 2012 when the Kyoto Protocol comes up for review and will probably be extended. This income will be derived from trading in Certified Emission Reduction certificates (CERs). These CER certificates are Government certified and ensure that every tonne of claimed emissions reduction is actually achieved.

Several similar projects have already been registered in South Africa as a consequence of Durban’s success with its Marianhill Gas to Energy project.

Alderman Justus said the finalisation of a memorandum of understanding to be signed by the Central Energy Fund and the City in the next few weeks shows that significant progress has been made in implementing this project. A pre-feasibility study has already been completed and an EIA study has commenced. An in-depth feasibility study will be undertaken shortly and everything achieved so far has involved no risk or cost to the City.  The outcome of these studies and agreements will be used to formulate the comprehensive proposal that will be submitted to Council.

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