A plan to build a biogas plant on the site of Bordo Poniente, formerly Mexico City’s largest landfill site, is set to go ahead, says city Mayor Miguel Ángel Mancera.
The dump was closed in late 2011 in an effort to make the city’s waste management system greener and a concession for methane plant was granted in November 2012.
However, the project was delayed for several reasons, including project modifications, economic uncertainty, devaluation of the peso and the range of permissions that needed to be obtained.
Mancera stated that the project was “put at risk” because “investment became more complicated and more difficult to structure.”
These obstacles have now been overcome.
The plant will harvest methane gas produced by 70 million tonnes of trash, generating 508 gigawatts of energy per year. The electricity will be used to power the capital’s 517,000 streetlights and 1,700 public buildings.
Along with the creation of a new constitution for the city, the plant is considered a signature project of Mancera’s administration.
“It’s a global project, a project that we can only compare to projects that are being worked on in Madrid and Los Angeles,” the mayor said.
He said it would lead to an annual saving of 500 million pesos (US $26.5 million).
Federal Finance Secretary José Antonio Meade said the Bordo Poniente plant, to which the federal government is also contributing, is one of the most important projects in the world given its energy creating capacity.
Mancera recognized the role of business along with Meade in getting the project off the ground, saying, “if it hadn’t been for his (Meade’s) willingness to support it, we couldn’t have done it.”
“There had to be a financial restructuring, there had to be a rethink,” the mayor said.
An initial investment of 3 billion pesos has been allocated to it.
However, Mancera stated, “it’s worth pointing out that the government isn’t investing directly. It’s an investment in a concession that was granted by the previous government and now, after all this work, will begin its job.”
The concession granted to the consortium Sistemas Eléctricos Metropolitanos will expire in 2037.
Bancomext — Mexico’s development bank, Fonadin— the national infrastructure fund and Nafinsa— another development bank, are also backing the project.
It is expected that it will be two years before the site is fully operational but limited energy generation could start by the end of this year.
According to Edgar Tungüï, Mexico City’s Secretary of Public Works and Services, work has already begun.
“Today we can inform you that we have started the first work on the site, leveling of the ground and construction of drainage slopes. This work will take approximately four months during which almost a million tonnes of earth will be placed on the site and the drilling of 500 biogas extraction wells will commence. At the end of that period we will be in a position to supply energy to Mexico City,” he said.
When fully operational, the plant will reduce Mexico City’s emissions by 1 million tons annually, equivalent to removing 21,500 microbuses from the city’s streets or planting 3 million trees, authorities say.
Mexico currently has 19 plants that generate electricity from biogas, situated in 11 different states.
However, federal Energy Secretary Pedro Joaquín Coldwell said, “despite that, the use of biogas is still fledgling. In 2016 just 157 gigawatt-hours were produced with that resource, only 0.25 % of clean energy and a tiny fraction of all the energy we generate.”