Ricochet News

Buffalo City Metro explores green power

Jul 29, 2017
Buffalo City Metro explores green power

Buffalo City Metro embarked on a quest to explore the potential of turning its waste into energy in a workshop with Germany’s DLR Institute of Networked Energy Systems at the Beacon Bay Electricity Department this week.

Portfolio Head for Infrastructure Services Ncedo Kumbaca together with the Water and Electricity Managers in the Metro met with the two German Scientists from DLR to explore the various ways in which the City can create renewable energy from its waste water and sludge treatment works.

The DLR Institute of Networked Energy Systems in the City of Oldenburg, Germany develops technologies and concepts for future energy supply based on renewable energy sources. 

The City of Oldenburg and Buffalo City Metro have been in a sister relationship since 2009 and the workshop is part of the sharing of knowledge between the two cities.

The purpose of the workshop was to discuss ways in which to collaborate the German and South African ideas for energy renewal projects in the City.

With a history of forced load shedding in South Africa which has had major effects on the country’s economy, Buffalo City’s Department of Electricity was tasked with implementing alternative strategies for the prevention of load shedding.

In his presentation on the City’s current state, Acting Electricity and Energy Services Manager Robert Ferrier said, “Currently BCMM imports all It’s energy from external sources, mainly Eskom and in terms of national requirements BCMM should reduce consumption of electricidal energy by 10 percent.”

He further added that the City’s Electricity Department was in the process of issuing a renewable energy audit tender to establish clearly the potential within BCM.

This audit will establish what has been done to date, identify gaps and opportunities in the market, set objectives and targets, identify strategies and programs, identify strategic partners and develop a multi-year program and allocate resources.

DLR believes that the Metro has great potential for creating its own energy from its wastewater and sludge treatment works and feeding it back into the grid thus reducing its reliance on external sources.

DLR scientist Meike Kuhnel said, “BCMM currently does not create electricity from its wastewater and sludge treatment works. There is an opportunity here to produce electricity and have self-sufficient plants.”

Some of the potential sources of energy which the City has identified include wind energy in places where large areas of land that is not suitable for building houses can be used for wind farms, solar energy, waste to energy, waste dump sites and energy from sewage.

“The big site we are looking at is the Berlin dump site, we have huge potential for recycling as well as harvesting natural gas from this site,” said Ferrier.

Wastewater and Sludge Treatment Works Manager Mark Westerburg said that the infrastructure is in place for the possible energy renewal programmes and the City has budgeted R420 million in the current financial year for the upgrades of the Reeston and Phakamisa wastewater works and Eastern Beach sewers.

Several ways in which the National Department of Energy has identified to help the City conserve energy encompass the introduction of light-emitting-diode (LED) street lights to save energy, energy efficiency in all municipal buildings and upgrading the electrical grid to a smart grid including smart metering.

The Energy Department proposes a memorandum of agreement with the East London Industrial Development Zone (ELIDZ) to co-operate on all potential projects within the BCM area.