Ghana’s parliament has recently mandated that the country will run on 10% electricity from alternative sources by 2020. One way renewable energy czar Kwabena Otu-Danquah plans on doing this is by tapping into an exceptionally plentiful resource: sewage.
Ghana, located in west Africa, apparently dumps about 1,000 tons of sewage into the ocean every day off the coast of the capital Accra. However, the first “fecal sludge-fed biodiesel plant” will be built in the city to cook waste and turn it into something useful. I bet those fumes smell lovely.
This concept isn’t exactly new. Methane from rotting sewage has been captured to generate power for decades, but newer techniques are turning the sewage right into a valuable source of energy through liquid fuel. According to recent research, sewage also yields a much more cost-effective fuel. It’s only 3 cents for a liter of lipids from sludge, compared to 80 cents for a liter made by soybean oil.
The biofuel from this plant will be about $7 a gallon, but Waste Enterprisers, a Ghanian firm backed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will be selling the fuel to commercial customers who also have 10% clean energy goals. If this pilot project is successful, four more plants will be built.
This is definitely a productive way of turning an inexpensive, highly renewable resource into something beneficial for everyone, including the ocean’s inhabitants.
Image CC licensed by James Cridland: The sea from Accra, Ghana.