Monday, 5 July 2010

Sharjah and Kyoto

The last few JCBs filling in the final watery holes are all that remain of Sharjah's Old Landfill. The enormous site has taken years to be remediated, the largest such project anywhere in the world. The project has run over by about two years, if the United Nations is to be believed, but has in many ways been a pioneering achievement - all carried out under the Kyoto Protocol.

Remediating Sharjah's landfill was carried out under the auspices of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The project has meant scooping out something like 7.5 million cubic metres of old, festering rubbish and has resulted in turning something like two million square metres of land into 'brown field' real estate. Buildings are already going up on the remediated land.

The project has been truly a landmark affair - basically diggers have been scooping up buckets of waste which are then sorted and graded. Two sorting lines took out the bulky stuff, while organic waste was crushed and ground into material suitable to refill the site. Stuff that couldn't be used or recycled was taken up to the new landfill site (out in the desert on the Dhaid road).

This is the site - the Al Falah area of Sharjah. The Emirates Road runs along the base of the diagram - the purple stuff is the last area to be worked on (and pictured at the top of this post).

It's taken five years. Five years of digging through a pile of festering, stinking muck and sorting, then recycling it. The massive project has been financed partly by the sale of  real estate and partly by the sale of climate credits, or CERs (Certified Emission Reduction) - carbon credits to you, mate. From what I can gather, the carbon credits were bought up by Austria. The project qualifies for carbon credits because old landfills release huge volumes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere - the original project plan outlines reductions of something like 438,000 tonnes of Carbon Dioxide or its equivalent over the original, rather ambitious, 2005-2008 timeline for the project.

The whole thing has been carried out to European standards, with the waste materials produced tested against German legal standards. Carried out by contractor Halcrow, the project was put together by EET - The Emirates Environmental Technology Co which is itself 49% owned by Austrian company IUT.

We drive past it every morning on the way to work and have watched, fascinated as the diggers have slowly reduced the enormous pile of fetid, black-looking rubbish until you can now look across an area of flat land - a little piece of Kyoto...


the real nick said...

Unfortunately, and ironically, the basic concept of this endeavour (move rubbish somewhere else) was already outdated by the time it started. Carbon trading doesn't solve anything. Moving rubbish elsewhere doesn't solve anything. It just superficially plasters over cracks. (which actually does sound apt for a place like the UAE)

The latest technology - already trialled for real in the UK and elsewhere, hence several years in the making - makes electricity out landfill sites by harvesting the methane gas deposites that are being created by the decomposing rubbish. These are literally wells driven deep into the landfill pits to release the gas, like a catheter. Gas is then pumped to power stations to make electricity. Then there are other technologies like bio digesters which UK's Sainsbury's chain of supermarkets will be using to convert their entire food waste into energy for their outlets etc. etc. The rest is sold back to the grid.

But then of course, Sharjah has no need for extra electricity...

Keefieboy said...

Alexander - need your advice:

Alwaysozmatt said...

Wouldn't be a client would they Alexander?

alexander... said...

Matt, I'm mildly shocked that you'd ask the question.

But as you ask it, the answer's no.

I'd obviously declare an interest if I ever wrote about a client on here.

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