Ghanaâ€™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:Â 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 â€œfecal sludge-fed biodiesel plantâ€ will be built in the city to cook waste and turn it into something useful. I bet those fumes smell lovely.
This concept isnâ€™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. Itâ€™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 oceanâ€™s inhabitants.
Image CC licensed by James Cridland: The sea from Accra, Ghana.