21 May 2012 – This week the City of Johannesburg welcomes some 5,000 power professionals from more than 60 countries for the annual African Utility Week, the continent’s largest utility services conference and exhibition.
 
Johannesburg’s 2040 vision is to create a world class African city of the future. The city’s sustainability cluster is responsible for implementing energy solutions that are supportive of a low carbon infrastructure. The city’s energy sector director in the infrastructure and services department, Thabo Mahlatsi, says that Johannesburg is serious about diversifying its energy mix. “We are coming with alternative energy sources that will make Jo’burg the benchmark to show how best energy resources can be utilised to benefit citizens. Jo’burg will be the centre of excellence in terms of policy framework, and practical implementation of low carbon economic infrastructure that will be the benchmark for all municipalities in the country and even internationally,” he says.

The city of Johannesburg has embarked on a first for the country, setting up a waste to energy facility through a private partnership project, which should be operational by 2015. Palesa Mathibeli, senior project manager, alternative waste treatment technology projects for the city, says, “We will be reducing a lot of waste going to landfills which are under a lot of pressure. We envisage that 500,000 tonnes of waste a year will be processed this way. The facility will produce 60 MW to 75 MW of renewable energy a day.” Revenue from the sale of by-products such as recyclable waste, heat and bioenergy will be generated while there is the potential for the City of Johannesburg to earn carbon credits.

Among the renewable and cleaner energy projects being undertaken in Johannesburg are:

  • The landfill gas to energy clean development mechanism project that uses methane gas produced by the biodegradation of waste as fuel to run generators which generate renewable electricity into the municipal grid.
  • The Johannesburg zoo has a 4.0 kW solar photovoltaic system, biogas digester at the restaurant and solar powered fence for the cheetah enclosure.
  • The ABSA Towers West building was constructed with the environmental priorities of bringing about a reduction in the consumption of energy, water and materials, and reducing carbon emissions.
  • The Vodafone Site Solutions Innovation Centre is the first ever six star Green Star SA rated building in South Africa.