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South Africa to use landfill waste to generate electricity by 2025

By Hauwa Ali

The South African city of Cape Town plans to use waste to produce energy that will be able to supply electricity to 5,850 homes by 2025.

The R197 million ($11.5 million) project is mainly for the construction of a biogas plant with a capacity of 2 MW, which can be expanded to 9 MW.

The plant, which will be built at the Vissershok landfill site will also help reduce the impact of waste on health and pollution, as well as create jobs for communities.

According to experts, the organic matter in landfills decomposes and forms a methane-rich gas that has about 25 times the warming potential of CO2.

“Wells will be dug in the landfill to extract the gas before being connected to the newly built flare complex where it will be diverted to a gas engine to generate electricity,” says the municipality led by Geordin Hill-Lewis.

According to the local authorities, the future Vissershok power plant will reduce Cape Town’s dependence on Eskom, South Africa’s power company.

Faced with the most severe blackouts in South Africa’s history, the government is struggling for ways to mitigate their impact on businesses and livelihoods, with efforts to buy more power from private producers and neighboring countries.

Africa’s most industrialized nation is facing more than four hours of electricity cuts at a stretch because state-owned utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. can’t produce enough power from its old and poorly maintained plants to meet demand.

Although the country has faced rolling blackouts since 2008, a succession of action plans have failed to provide lasting solutions. The government’s latest pledge to intervene comes after 6,000 megawatts of capacity was cut from the national grid over the weekend as power stations malfunctioned.

Record shows South Africa produces 12.7 million tonnes of solid waste each year. In this context, waste-to-energy is becoming an alternative in this southern African country, which depends on coal for more than 80% of its electricity production.

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