21 October 2009 – Initiatives are underway to adopt practices in renewable energy in South Africa. Independent power producer (IPP) Lesedi Biogas Project (LBP) is planning to build one of the world’s largest open-air feedlot manure-to-power plants, in Heidelberg, near Johannesburg, South Africa.
The plant will use anaerobic fermentation (bacterial fermentation of organic waste, with little or no oxygen present) to produce a methane rich gas which can be used to produce electricity or burn for heat.
Methane, which is a byproduct of much biological decomposition, is a very potent greenhouse gas having an effect of up to twenty times that of CO2. The process of extracting biogas from manure includes the collection and utilization of methane through anaerobic fermentation, a process which has a very positive environmental impact.
The project is scheduled to cost about $15 million to develop and aims to be completed within 18 months of the capital being acquired. LBP expects the plant to be wholly operational by 2011.
The successful implementation of this first commercial sized biogas plant in South Africa will hopefully increase the focus on and understanding of the opportunities of this technology, while establishing the Power Purchase Agreement mechanism necessary to allow producers to sell their energy.