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South Africa: Durban Landfill Gas-to-Electricity Project
(Prototype Carbon Fund)

UNFCCC Reference No.: 0545

2 Project Documents

Project Photo 1
The Mariannhill landfill gas recovery unit

The World Bank's Prototype Carbon Fund is pleased to be the purchaser of 337,000 tonnes of Carbon Dioxide Equivalent Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emission Reductions from the first landfill gas-to-energy project registered under the CDM in the African continent - the Mariannhill landfill site. The project, initiated in 2004 and expected to be active up to 2018, consists on the implementation of a landfill gas collection system at the Mariannhill landfill site located in Durban, and its use to generate renewable energy. The electricity produced mitigates methane emissions and replaces more-carbon-intensive electricity that would have been produced from the national grid. The Project was the first of its kind to be registered in Africa under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), and is arguably the first landfill site worldwide to be incorporated into an ecosystem restoration site and registered as a National Conservancy Site.

Project Photo 2
Sustainably managed waste disposal at Mariannhill

Mariannhill landfill site has served as a pioneer for other CDM landfill gas capture and landfill gas-to-energy projects on the continent, and the project stands as an example of successful collaboration between the local Municipality--eThekwini Municipality--, the Department of Cleansing and Solid Waste (DSW) as the responsible municipal agency, and the World Bank's energy, environment, and carbon finance teams.

The methodology for GHG accounting from use or flaring of landfill gas was developed specifically for this project, since in 2004 there was no approved methodology for accounting for GHG emissions generated by landfills. This initial methodology served as the basis for the development of the United Nation consolidated methodology for "Flaring or use of landfill gas", which is now used worldwide.

The Durban Landfill-Gas-to Electricity project has positive effects on local air and groundwater quality and safety. By displacing electricity from the grid the project reduces emissions related to coal-fired power production which include sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides and particulates. It also reduces the adverse impacts related to transportation of coal and coal-mining (dust and acid mine drainage). Near the landfill sites the project improves local air quality by further reducing the amount of landfill gas released into the atmosphere, and thus reducing the risk of dangerous methane gas concentrations and of exposure of neighboring residents to odor. This is particularly relevant for the Mariannhill landfill site which is located close to residential areas. All gas capturing wells are equipped for leachate removal which contributes to the protection of groundwater.

With regard to local employment the project has resulted in a small increase in the area of skilled jobs for operation and maintenance of the equipment at the landfill and the power generation units.

The landfill site has won numerous awards worldwide, as a result of DSW's commitment to sustainability and environmental management. Some examples are as follows:

  • In August 2012 the global professional services firm KPMG named the Project as the only one of six African infrastructures projects among its list of "100 most innovative and inspiring urban infrastructure projects in the world".
  • In 2009 the project won the Honorary Energy Globe Award for Sustainability.
  • In 2008 the Mariannhill landfill site won the Dubai International Award for Best Practices to Improve the Living Environment.
  • Several Conservancy and Green Energy Awards in South Africa.

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