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Cambridge Industries, a company headquartered in London, is planning to turn the rubbish accumulated for almost half a century at Addis Ababa’s waste disposal site, commonly known as ‘Koshie’ into electricity. The company plans to generate 50 megawatts (MW) of electric power within one year using a specialized incinerator and has secured USD 100 million from the Green Development Fund on a soft loan basis. The trash is expected to produce electricity for the next thirty years and will provide the country with USD 100,000 per year in carbon credit, Capital learnt.
As opposed to the former trial of producing electricity from methane gas created beneath the rubbish, the current approach is to turn the rubbish itself into electrical power. Methane is a powerful gas that has the potential to pollute the environment 20 times more than carbon dioxide.
In some municipal landfills, the methane produced by an aerobic decomposition is captured and used to generate electricity. However, in the past 10 years, modern incinerators have become more applicable. An incinerator is a machine that captures the energy from solid waste as well as the emissions from ignition. Modern incinerators use rubbish as a fuel to generate electricity. Trash is burned at a high temperature, exceeding 850 degrees Celsius. In doing so, the machine transforms harmful gases into harmless ones. The new technology is in line with Ethiopia’s Green Growth Strategy, which is an attempt to implement environmentally friendly policy.
The feasibility study to apply the new technology was conducted by Cambridge Industries in collaboration with the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation, the City Government of Addis Ababa and the Ministry of Water and Energy.
When completed, the project will become the largest of its kind in Africa. Only two countries currently produce electricity from rubbish in Africa using the new technology; South Africa (18.5 MW), and Rwanda (17 MW).
Previously a Finnish Company, Eco Com, was working on 19 hectares of the dump site to produce electricity from methane gas. Nigeria produces 5.6 MW using this technology.
Now the city administration has obtained 137 hectares from Oromiya Regional State around Sendafa town some 37Km from Addis Ababa, a new dump site. More than 40 million birr has been paid to relocate farmers from the area. In new dump site, there will be a modern landfill sanitary system with four trans-filtration sites in four corners of the city; Bole, Akaki, Kolfe and Koshie. These four sites will separate trash into recyclable and non recyclable materials; turning the waste into wealth and helping the environment at the same time.
About half of the residential solid waste generated in Addis Ababa is organic. Paper accounts for 12.21 percent and plastics 12.43 percent. Textile, metal and glass make up a smaller percentage of the waste dumped at 2.98 percent, 2.15 percent and 3.22 percent, respectively.