Pioneering greener living

Green bond. (Supplied)

Green bond. (Supplied)

The listing — a first for a municipality in South Africa and a first among the global C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group — took place in June this year, and was declared an immediate success. 

The R1.46-billion bond COJGO1 was priced at 185 basis points (1.85%) above the R2023 Government Bond and will mature in 2024. Executive Mayor Mpho Parks Tau announced that the bond auction was 150% oversubscribed. 

This is not the first bond to be pioneered by the City. It has issued seven long dated bonds to date, making it a consistent and responsible issuer in the debt capital markets, having issued a total of R8.5-billion in bonds and commercial paper totalling R6.1-billion. 

“To date the City has successfully redeemed a total of R1.9-billion comprising the COJ01, COJ03, retail bonds and partial redemption of COJ02 for R166.6-million,” said Tau.

The Green Bond is designed to take the City closer to its long-term goals of becoming a green, sustainable and healthy metro. In marking the occasion, Tau said: “The Green Bond will provide the City with a funding source to improve and expedite the implementation of its climate change mitigation strategy and move the City towards a low carbon infrastructure, minimal resource reliance and increased preservation of natural resources.”

The City of Johannesburg concedes that it is among the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases in South Africa, mainly as a result of industrial, transport and residential activities. The Green Bond is just the latest in a series of programmes designed to maximise resources and lower the City’s carbon footprint. 

Tau said: “What distinguishes this Green Bond from any other general obligation bond is that the projects to be financed are green initiatives such as the Biogas to Energy Project and the Solar Geyser Initiative, as well as all other projects that reduce greenhouse emissions and contribute to a resilient and sustainable City.”

 Showcasing Joburg’s leadership

Describing the Green Bonds as “one of the critical building blocks in our programme of achieving our goal to make Joburg a World Class African City”, Tau said this latest move in the greening of the City would be showcased to the world later this year. 

“The City through this innovative financing mechanism will benefit in terms of accessing additional funding, tapping into a new investor base with social responsible investment (SRI) mandate and positive image projected to investors in dealing with climate change challenges. “Given that we are the first City in the C40 Cities Network this Green Bond issuance will be shared with other Cities at the UN Climate Summit to be held in New York in September 2014. This will be an opportunity not only to show case the credit strength and innovation of the City but the sophistication of South African financial markets and systems,” he said.

Greener waste water treatment

The Biogas to Energy project, officially launched at the City’s biggest waste water treatment plant, Northern Waste Water Treatment Works, in August last year, is turning biogas from waste into power at five of the City’s waste water treatment plants to offset rising electricity costs. 

The MMC for Environment and Infrastructure Services, Matshidiso Mfikoe, said in launching the project that when Eskom announced tariff increases that were to take place between 2010 and 2012, the City quickly realised that the increases would have a direct effect on operational costs of waste water treatment in Johannesburg. 

“Furthermore, the tariff increases by Eskom indicated that the annual electrical power costs would treble in the next seven to 10 years. It is estimated that by 2020 the cost of electricity for waste water treatment in Johannesburg will increase from R93-million per annum as it was in 2010 to about R300-million per annum. 

“This estimated amount excludes the proposed 16% tariff increase per annum by Eskom. The tariff increases will thus put enormous financial pressure on water service providers.”

He noted that this would have implications on the environment, the provision of health services to the residents of the City of Johannesburg, the downstream cost of potable water production, the economy and the quality of services that the City delivers to its residents. 

“After the announcement of tariff hikes, Johannesburg Water took the liberty of investigating ways of generating electrical power from the biogas produced at their waste water treatment works as well as to reducing the current electrical power demand.” 

After extensive feasibility studies and research, the City finalised a report in 2010, which recommended the implementation of a pilot project at Northern Waste Water Treatment works, as a pilot, before it is moved to other waste water treatment works.

“The aim of all of this is to become as self-sufficient as possible for the electrical power demands of our waste water treatment plants by 2016. Initially combined heat and power (CHP) generated could possibly provide about 55% of the waste water treatment electricity needs. 

“And all of the electrical power generated at the waste water treatment plant will be used on the works site. This will result in Johannesburg Water saving on costs that would have inevitably affected the residents of the City,” said Mfikoe.

Waste to energy

As part of the City’s ongoing efforts to improve waste management, it has prioritised projects to divert waste from landfills and to turn waste into energy where possible. Tau said in his State of the City address this year: “The diversion of waste away from landfills remains a key priority for the City of Johannesburg. Some of the waste streams identified include the diversion of green waste, builders’ rubble, food waste and residual waste.  Separation at source is currently being rolled out in Waterval, Zondi, Diepsloot, Orange Farm, Central Camp, Marlboro and Southdale.  A total of 470 000 households are targeted for participation in the programme.  

“The City’s garden sites are being upgraded to accept recyclables. In the final stages of the programme, a total of 950 000 households will be included in the programme. As builders’ rubble is also a huge contributor to illegal dumping, we are making available mobile crush plants and static crushing plants at various landfill sites to address this challenge as well.”

He said the City also recognised the role of the various stakeholders in reducing waste to landfills, and would partner with the private sector to accelerate the implementation of-waste-to-energy projects that will move the City towards the attainment of a 70% reduction by 2030. 

In addition, more than R2-billion has been earmarked for waste-to- energy projects that are already reported to be producing higher electricity yields than expected. 

The City reports that since the start of the flaring of methane gas at Robinson Deep landfill site, the daily pumping of landfill gas at Robinson Deep is at 1500 cubic meters per hour and should rise to 3000m3 when the flare is operated at full capacity.

This translates into 5MW of renewable electricity, which will provide power for approximately 4to 5000 houses, reducing the greenhouse potential of landfill gas by approximately 149 000 tonnes of CO2 per annum

All five of the City’s landfill sites (Marie Louise, Robinson Deep, Ennerdale, Linbro Park and Goudkoppies) will, in the near future, be converted from methane gas flaring to power generation sites and will be producing approximately 19MW of electricity which can supply 12 500 medium-size households over 20 years and beyond.

Greener transport

Implementation of the Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, which has displaced hundreds of taxis and minibuses and is used by tens of thousands of commuters daily, has already made significant inroads into combating the carbon problem. 

The third phase of Rea Vaya, which began in February, will include 16km of new BRT trunk infrastructure along Louis Botha and Katherine streets, 10 new stations, a state of the art and underground public transport interchange at the site of the Wynberg Bridge; 31km of public environment upgrade in Alexandra as part of the Complete Streets initiative;  and more than 5km of walking and cycling lanes and a new bridge over the M1 to accommodate over 10 000 people who walk between Alexandra and the Sandton CBD every day. 

The plan also includes a second bridge for dedicated Rea Vaya bus lanes in Marlboro; a new transport system in the Sandton CBD so that there can be seamless integration between the Gautrain station, walking, cycling, Rea Vaya, mini bus taxis and other bus services; and a new bus depot in the inner city, and Alexandra. With the full implementation of Bus Rapid Transit it is estimated that the City will save 1.6-million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions by 2020.

Over the next few years, the implementation of the City’s ambitious Corridors of Freedom programme, with its associated reduction in commuting time and distances, will also significantly reduce C02 emissions and enhance the quality of life of all residents. (Read about the Corridors of Freedom on page 3)

In his State of the City address this year, Mayor Tau also noted that the City has launched its first two Metrobuses powered by dual fuel — Compressed Natural Gas and diesel.  

“In the next financial year, Metrobus will be converting 30 more buses as well as purchasing 150 new buses to use dual fuel,” he said. 

“There are significant advantages to the City of using dual fuel buses. Not only are they cleaner — our first two buses are emitting 90% less carbon emissions than a diesel bus — but the fuel source, biogas, can be sourced from waste including grass from City Parks, biowaste from the Fresh Produce Market and bio crops especially grown for this purpose.”

Broad greener, power-saving initiatives

In addition, the City is retrofitting buildings with energy efficient lighting, cooling and heating systems in a project to include more than 100 municipal buildings, cutting hundreds of tonnes of C02 emissions. 

Outdoor lighting is being retrofitted with energy saving LEDs, and solar water heaters are being rolled out in a number of areas. The Cosmo City Climate Proofing Project, which involved the provision of low pressure solar water geysers to more than 1 000 low income households including the provision of energy efficiency lights and planting of fruit trees, led to the expansion of the solar geyser programme to other areas of the City through the City Power Solar Water Geyser Programme (SWHP). 

The SWHP was launched in October 2012, aimed at rolling out 110 000 geysers to low-income households over three years. Tau said: “The 43 000 solar water heaters installed by City Power collectively generate the equivalent of 22.5 GigaWatt hours of electricity per year — enough to run a small town or part of a suburban area. The installation of 42 000 smart meters, geyser control systems and energy efficiency programmes, all of which are ongoing, will continue to enhance our energy efficiency.” 

He added: “The City has mandated the Environment, Infrastructure and Services Departments, and the Board and Management of City Power to present to the Council proposals for a future energy mix. This should include the increased utilisation of gas, the uptake of roof top photovoltaic systems and other alternative, greener energy sources.”

This article has been paid for by the City of Johannesburg. Contents and pictures were supplied and signed off by City of Johannesburg.



blog comments powered by Disqus