The Solid Waste Department’s Landfill Gas Extraction and Utilisation Project, currently in operation at the Coastal Park landfill, has earned the first carbon credits from the UN-approved Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). This important milestone will hopefully encourage other municipalities or companies involved in landfilling throughout South Africa to start earning carbon credits from similar projects.
The CDM administration has approved that a total of 126 274 carbon credits be issued to the City for reducing carbon emissions through their Landfill Gas Extraction and Utilisation Project at the Coastal Park landfill site. CDM is one of the flexibility mechanisms under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Kyoto Protocol, which encourages developing countries to implement emission reduction, thereby obtaining carbon credits.
The purpose of the project is to reduce carbon emissions at Coastal Park landfill to contribute to the overall mitigation of the effects of climate change. This is also achieved through the conversion of landfill gas into electricity. Landfill gas, predominantly of methane, has a global warming potential approximately 25 times greater than carbon dioxide.
In the City’s projects, the gas extractions system comprises a well field made up of a combination of vertical and horizontal wells, well heads, condensate traps, pipelines, gas blowers, measuring instrumentation and a gas flare. The system extracts landfill gas for flaring to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions associated with waste decomposition in landfill sites. Once the electricity generation equipment is installed, the landfill gas will be used to generate electricity. A total of 2MW engines will be installed at Coastal Park landfill site this year.
Each carbon credit represents one tonne reduction in equivalent carbon dioxide emissions. This means the City, through this project, has reduced 126 274 tonne of carbon emissions since July 2018 when the accumulation of credits began. This is equivalent to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from approximately 24 762 passenger vehicles driven for one year, or carbon captured and stored from the atmosphere (i.e. sequestration) by planting 2 million trees’ seedlings grown for over 10 years.
Having carbon credits is beneficial in that these credits can be sold to industries that are otherwise unable to reduce carbon emissions to meet their carbon tax obligations; on the international carbon markets, on the South African market in terms of recently promulgated Carbon Tax legislation, and can also be used to meet the City’s own obligations under the Carbon tax in the form of offsets (SA Carbon Offset Regulations).