Mexico City's subway to run on solid waste

A thermal recovery plant will transform solid waste into energy to power the subway system in Mexico City
Mexico City's Mayor, Miguel Ángel Mancera (center left) presenting the project of the Thermal Recovery Plant – Photo by IRVIN OLIVARES/EL UNIVERSAL
05/09/2017
15:00
Phenélope Aldaz
Mexico City
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The Thermal Recovery Plant of Mexico City “El Sarape” will transform solid waste into energy to power the subway system, and is expected to begin operations in 18 months – with the first stone being set in November this year, according to Mexico City's Mayor, Miguel Ángel Mancera.

The Mayor has said this is a 12- billion investment (of Mexican pesos) by the consortium Proactiva Medio Ambiente S.A. de C.V. - Veolia, to build and operate the facility.

During the presentation of the project, Mancera claimed the plant – to be built in a land formerly used as a landfill – will be the largest in the world, with 30% more capacity than the plant in Los Angeles.

“This plant will also be able to power the New Mexico City Airport and contribute to the environmental efforts in the area, that is why we have placed it at a strategical location,” he added.

The director of the Urban Management Agency, Jaime Slomianski, said that out of the 13 thousand tonnes of waste produced daily in Mexico City, 4 thousand 500 hundred tonnes of non-recyclable inorganic waste will be sent to “El Sarape”, which will produce 965 thousand megawatts per hour, to power the 12 subway lines.

The plant will have the capacity to receive 20 trucks simultaneously, thanks to its four independent combustion lines – operating 24 hours – reducing 700 thousand tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.

The plant, together with the new waste separation regulation for Mexico City and other measures implemented on the matter, aim to reduce the amount of unused waste to one thousand tonnes, according to Slomianski.

Jorge Gaviño, director of the Collective Transport System, said the annual payment of one billion and 860 hundred thousand Mexican pesos to the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) will now be given for the operation of the plant.

He also added that as part of the mitigation measures, the agency will allocate 65 million (of a total investment of 120 million) to the construction of the Ecological Park Laguna in the Tláhuac borough, which will have a 12-hectare extension, a lake, and a wastewater treatment plant.

The Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources, Rafael Pacchiano, said the Thermal Recovery Plant is an example to be followed, and qualified the problem of waste disposal in Mexico as “atrocious”, considering that “out of the 117 thousand tonnes of waste generated daily across the country, over 70% end up in our rivers, forests and ravines, constituting not only an urgent environmental problem but also a health hazard.”

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