A KZN firm is pioneering a project to turn farm waste in a virtual desert area into renewable energy, writes Alan Cooper
A ground-breaking feasibility study for a 1 Megawatt waste-to-energy project is under way in Namibia.
The project is being undertaken by Pietermartizburg based renewable energy solutions provider Renen and the outcome could have a significant impact on Southern Africa’s economic growth and energy generation.
GreenDessert involves the installation of anaerobic bio-digesters using the waste-stream generated by agriculture and other operations. Renen is well placed to tackle the project with an impressive track record in sub-Saharan Africa and internationally.
The project is backed by the Energy and Environment Project SA and East Africa and is funded by the governments of Finland, Austria and the UK and hosted by the Development Bank of Southern Africa.
“Partnerships adn innovations are the key ways to Renen’s success” says warren Confait. “We aim to add value to lives wherever we can by offering a broad range of alternative energy products and solutions considerate of the world we live in.” Our products include Solar PV, solar Thermal, water heating, solar collectors, fireplaces, bio-mass energy, solar pool heating, LED lighting, wind power and generators. We offer an extensive research, monitoring and project management service and a host of green consulting services.
“Namibia depends largely on electricity generated by Eskom; so it’s exposed to harsh future price increases and supply insecurity,” says Confait.“This alone makes the search for alternative power sources vital to the economy’s sustainability.”
The project has the potential to ease greenhouse gas emissions (to meet Kyoto Protocol goals), cut dependence on electricity supply from Eskom, create jobs and develop skills. It could be replicated in other parts of the country.
Intensive farming methods are increasingly being used in southern Africa. So the need to do something with waste has generated interest in waste-to-energy projects.
Few such projects have been implemented since most farmers are conservative, know little about alternative power engineering and lack the capital to invest in such projects.
“The model for the feasibility study takes into account the different skills of Namibian agriculture and power producers,” says Confait, “and it could be adapted for other waste sources.”
The project is also being driven by the need for efficient waste management by commercial agricultural operations, offering cost-savings for stakeholders.
The energy can be used by the person who supplies the waste material.
“Although no similar projects have been implemented in the country and few have been initiated in southern Africa, many have been installed and managed with success in Europe and North America.
“The success of these projects, associated with a direct link to knowledgeable individuals and organisations in the relevant countries, provides a strong empirical base from which this project can be implemented and potentially replicated in the future.”
With South Africa’s largest rooftop gridtied PV power plant of 1MW under their belts, Renen now hopes to roll out 3-8MW this year.