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South Africa: Gas engines installed at emissions credit-funded biogas plant

GE Energy has supplied three of its ecomagination-certified Jenbacher biogas generator sets to the owner of a process effluent-to-biogas plant that will provide electricity to a gas-to-liquids (GTL) refinery in South Africa.
The plant represents South Africa’s first commercial independent power producer (IPP) Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) project, a United Nations carbon-emissions trading program under the Kyoto Protocol. The project is expected to produce approximately 33,000 certified emissions reductions (CERs) annually.

WSP Energy, a London-based IPP and a subsidiary of the listed WSP Group, developed and owns the 4.2-megawatt (MW) biogas project at the world’s first GTL refinery, which is owned and operated by the national oil company PetroSA. The GTL refinery is located on the southern tip of South Africa, near the coastal town of Mossel Bay.

The Jenbacher gas engines will be fueled by methane biogas created from the anaerobic digestion of reaction water collected in PetroSA’s process-effluent treatment plant. The three Jenbacher JGS 420 GS-B.L. units will each generate 1.4 MW of electricity, which WSP Energy will then sell to PetroSA under a 15-year power purchase agreement (PPA). The units will be fully operational in October.

The project is GE’s first Jenbacher biogas plant in this country. In January 2007, GE announced its Jenbacher gen-sets had been installed to generate electricity at South Africa’s first landfill gas-to-energy plants.

“GE Energy is excited to provide its gas engine technology for South Africa’s first biogas-CDM project,” said Prady Iyyanki, CEO of GE Energy’s Jenbacher gas engine business. “This project will serve as an important regional reference plant to both demonstrate the effectiveness of GE’s Jenbacher biogas engines, as well as the economic viability of using alternative energy and CDM funding to help address South Africa’s pressing energy and environmental requirements.”

The project offers numerous economic and environmental benefits to PetroSA and the region. By utilizing its own existing on-site energy source, PetroSA will replace 4.2 MW of grid-based power from the local electricity utility. In turn, this eliminates the need to produce an equivalent amount of energy at coal-fired generating plants – a key element of South Africa’s CDM focus.

Along with receiving debt financing from the South African Development Bank, the CDM sale of emissions credits helped make the PetroSA project economically feasible for WSP Energy. WSP also has announced it will use a portion of its CER sales proceeds to support a regional poverty alleviation initiative. The program enhances the quality of life for a number of South Africa’s poor, using the funds to support the creation of sustainable commercial farming operations.

GE is well represented in South Africa through its regional equipment sales and service provider for Jenbacher gas engines, Agaricus Trading cc., which will support the PetroSA biogas project through a 15-year customer service agreement.

GE Energy’s Jenbacher gas engine business is a leading manufacturer of gas-fueled reciprocating engines, packaged generator sets and cogeneration systems for power generation as well as gas engines for mechanical drive applications. GE’s Jenbacher gas engines run on natural gas or a variety of specialty waste gases, including biogas and landfill gas.

Additional information: GE Energy
News date: 02/10/2007

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